Sharpening steel or honing steel: the difference
The sharpening steel and the honing steel: optically speaking they are very similar and often confused with each other. There is, however, an important difference between these two tools. It is the goal you pursue: sharpening or bending.
The function of a sharpening steel
A sharpening steel removes material from your knife. By moving the edge alongside the steel remove steel to restore the V-shape of the edge. A sharpening steel can therefore be used to sharpen knives that have become blunt after frequent use. If you would use a sharpening steel on a daily basis little would be left of your blade after some time.
The function of a honing steel
A honing steel, on the contrary, is not used to sharpen but to restore the bent edge. We call this folding back the burr. You can basically do this every time before you start using your knife. By doing so you make sure that the edge is straight and not curved.
The main difference between a sharpening and a honing steel is therefore whether or not material is removed. Honing steels are made from steel that has no sharpening function. Sharpening steels are ceramic or have a diamond coating and therefore harder than steel. Diamond-coated sharpening steels work fast, but also remove a lot of steel. For that reason it is best to opt for a ceramic sharpening steel if you use your knives on a daily basis. If you don't use your knives that often a diamond-coated version is a great option.