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Knife Steel Guide & Chart

Discover the top knife steel types for your needs. Learn about the different properties and characteristics of each steel type to choose the best one for your knife.


Steel Type

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel knives are a popular choice for many professional chefs and cooking enthusiasts due to their sharpness, wear resistance and beauty. Carbon steel is a type of steel that contains a higher percentage of carbon and less chrome, vanadium and molybdenum compared to stainless steel, which gives it certain unique properties.

One of the primary benefits of carbon steel knives is their ability to hold a sharp edge for longer than stainless steel knives. The high carbon content of the steel allows the blade to be sharpened to a finer edge, which results in better cutting performance. However, the tradeoff is that they may be more prone to rust and corrosion if not properly cared for.

One of the unique characteristics of carbon steel knives is that they can develop a patina over time, which is a natural, dark coating that forms on the blade as it reacts with air and moisture. Some people consider the patina to be a desirable feature, as it adds character, uniqueness and addition food release but the look may bother some.

In summary, carbon steel knives are a popular choice for those looking for something ultra-sharp. While they may require a bit more care than stainless steel knives, they offer unique benefits that make them a popular choice for many professional chefs and home cooks alike.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel knives are a popular choice for home cooks and professional chefs that don’t want the extra care that comes with carbon steel. Stainless steel is a type of steel that contains at least 10.5% chromium, making it resistant to rust and corrosion which is ideal for use in humid environments or for cutting acidic foods, which can cause discoloration or rust on other types of knives.

Another advantage of stainless steel knives is their durability. They are typically less prone to chipping or breaking than other types of knives, which means that for some users, they might last longer with proper care.

Stainless steel knives are also relatively easy to maintain. They do not require as much care as other types of knives, such as carbon steel knives, and can be cleaned with a mild soap and water. Additionally, some models are dishwasher safe, which makes them convenient for those who do not have time to hand wash their knives.

One of the potential downsides of stainless steel knives is that they may not hold an edge as well as other types of knives. However, this can vary based on the specific grade of stainless steel and the design of the blade.

Rust Resistant

Yes it will require less maintenance and if you forget to wipe down your blade, aside from perhaps the rare surface rust, it will not rust the actual metal.

No prone to build rust if not dried and maintained. For those, it's highly recommended to even oil the blades to disperse humidity when they are not used regularly or stored away.

Steel Hardness (HRC)

Steel hardness is often achieved by the heat threat and can vary for many for the same steel type, the below chart is a +/- estimate of the Hardness Rockwell C.

Low HRC: Under 55 
Medium HRC: Between 55 and 60

High HRC: Above 60

Sharpening Friendly

Sharpening steel can be complex discussion, below we tried to simplify the friendliness of sharpening by creating 3 general buckets for an easier comprehension.

Red is difficult to sharpen and achieve a good burr. While it's not impossible, it might take more time and effort.

Yellow is challenging for beginners to properly sharpen however with a bit of practice you can master the process.

Green is easy to create a burr in a shorter amount of time with minimal pressure.