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How long can you expect your knives to stay sharp? - Kakushin

How long can you expect your knives to stay sharp?

We all desire those high-end knives known for their exceptional sharpness, yet even they have a limited lifespan.

While the quality of a kitchen knife significantly influences its performance and longevity, it's crucial to remember that proper care is paramount. Just like the longevity of car tires, which can vary from 20,000 to over 100,000 kilometers depending on driving habits, the lifespan of a knife is influenced by how it's used and maintained. Even with exceptional cutting performance, a high-quality knife won't maintain its sharpness indefinitely if not cared for properly.

Today, I'll discuss the top 5 reasons your knives may not hold an optimal cutting edge, along with tricks to ensure they remain well-maintained and retain their edge for as long as possible. Let's dive in.

Top 5 reasons for dull knives:
Bad Cutting Surface

The cutting surface often serves as the most underestimated tool in many kitchens. There's a common misconception that the resistance of a product equates to its quality, leading many astray. It's important to understand that your cutting surface will naturally experience wear over time. Therefore, materials like bamboo, glass, stainless steel, granite/marble, and even certain plastic boards are detrimental to your knives—they may offer resistance, but the knife bears the brunt of the force. Ultimately, either the knife or the cutting board will wear faster.

At Kakushin, we favor cutting boards made of elastomers, such as Hasegawa or rubber from Parker Asahi. While wooden cutting boards are also excellent options, they demand higher maintenance. If you're willing to invest time in waxing, oiling, and sanding down your cutting board, those crafted from end-grain wood are not only beautiful but can also serve as a stylish addition to your kitchen decor.

Improper Movements

Keep in mind that your knife isn't meant for sweeping or scooping—it's designed for precision cutting. We've all been guilty of using the edge of our knives to push ingredients around the cutting board, inadvertently causing what's known as a "rolled-edge." This occurs when the sharp edge of your knife folds over, affecting its ability to bite into ingredients effectively.

A helpful suggestion we offer to customers is to utilize the back of the knife for tossing ingredients or to keep a scraper handy for this purpose. By adopting these practices, you can avoid damaging the edge of your knife and ensure its longevity and optimal performance.

No Blade Protection

Storing your knives safely after use is crucial for preserving their cutting edge and preventing chips. A common mistake is stacking knives on top of each other in drawers or sliding them into slots not designed for their shape.

Magnetic boards or blade guards/sheaths offer excellent storage options for knives. While various products are available on the market, the optimal solution ensures that your blade remains contact-free and doesn't constantly rub against other materials, which could cause damage over time.

Rough Washing

The way knives are washed can significantly affect their sharpness. Scrubby pads or abrasive sponges, especially when used directly on the knife, can dull the edge. Contrary to popular belief, dishwashers themselves aren't necessarily the problem. It's not the heat that impacts knife sharpness, but rather the long washing cycle during which knives can bounce around in their tray, potentially damaging protective basket materials and causing metal-on-metal rubbing that dulls the blades. Additionally, dishwashers can be harsh on knife handles, leading to drying and cracking.

The best cleaning option for knives is simple: a damp rag and mild detergent will suffice, provided you promptly remove any residues from your countertop to prevent them from drying onto the knives.

Lack of Honing

The purpose of a honing rod is often misunderstood, with many believing it's meant to sharpen knives. In reality, honing and sharpening are distinct processes. Honing involves cleaning, maintaining, and realigning the edge of your knife and should be done regularly (every few meals) to preserve its sharpness. On the other hand, sharpening entails removing metal to recreate an edge and should only be attempted when honing is no longer effective.

Improper sharpening techniques or tools can actually damage your knives, underscoring the necessity of honing. However, it's important to note that honing rods come in various shapes and materials, and it's crucial to choose one tailored to your knife's materials. When in doubt, a soft ceramic honing rod is a safe option.

Considering all these factors, is it worthwhile to invest in a high-end knife? Absolutely. High-end knives offer superior steel quality and often feature better edge geometry, factors that are frequently overlooked. Our blog aims to emphasize that whether you have a high-end knife or a budget blade, implementing these tips and tricks will extend the longevity of any knife. While a quality knife will derive greater benefits from these practices, it's crucial not to underestimate the care required for all kitchen knives.

To fully appreciate the exceptional precision and cutting power of a quality knife, one must be prepared to invest not only financially but also time and effort into proper care. Therefore, before committing to high-end products, it's essential to acknowledge the need for adjusting habits and dedicating extra care to ensure optimal performance.

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