A knife is one of the most used cutleries in the kitchen and home in general. You are going to need it to cut to size your fish, piece of meat, vegetables, and other items before you start cooking. In short, it’s not possible to prepare heavy meals without coming in contact with a knife. That’s how essential this cutlery can be. But then, the increased use of stainless steel knives in many homes will make you question if such knives are a better option. So here’s the question;
Are stainless steel knives good?
A stainless steel knife can be both good and bad. It all depends on the intended use. For instance, if you’re seeking for a hunting or combat knife, then the carbon steel knife would make a wise choice. That’s because it can withstand hard use, made super sharper with ease, or are a bit stronger. But if you plan to expose your knife to moisture a lot, such as fishing or cooking, then a stainless steel knife will be a wise choice. It will not only serve your household longer but require less care. Another reason stainless steel knives are long-lasting is that they are quite resistant to chipping and corrosion.
Also, one thing that will determine if a stainless steel knife is good or bad is the grade. Of course, a low class or poorly made knife won’t be of any use to you. Such blades are usually not able to retain their edges, corrodes quickly and aren’t durable.
So, that’s it about stainless steel knives. However, there are other details I provided in this post that would be helpful to you. So, keep on reading!
Stainless Steel Knives: Things You Need To Know
You must have come across or read numerous things about the rivalry between stainless steel and carbon steel knives. Well, it didn’t start today. Anyway, let’s continue on stainless steel knives. What are stainless steel knives?
When most people who know a thing or two about knives place an order, they majorly request for knives made of stainless steel. And of course, the knife might probably be used in the kitchen or other indoor use. I said before that stainless steel knives are much more ideal for use in moist or wet conditions. These include cooking or fishing.
You know these conditions requires coming in contact with water all the time. Of course, it’s not possible to cut something, be it vegetables or fish, without the knife coming in contact with water. That’s the point I am trying to make here.
What are stainless steel knives best known for? Here’s another good question, and one that people ask a lot.
These sets of knives are much more popular because they are rust-resistant. In other words, they don’t rust easily as other forms of knives do. You can use such knives on wet or salty foods, including acidic foods like fruits, without any issue.
Another reason is that they are much easier to maintain. All you have to do to get the dirt off is to rinse with water.
Note: Ensure you use warm running water to rinse your stainless steel knife, particularly the blade, after use. Make it a habit to carry out such a task after every use. Use a liquid soap (no harsh chemical please) and allow the knife to dry before storing where it originally belongs or should be.
Another way you can enjoy using a stainless steel knife is when it doesn’t contain other forms of alloying elements, which is dictated during the manufacturing process. In this case, the chromium in the product can form bonds with most of the carbon, and thus form chromium carbide.
This chromium carbide tends to be a super hard ceramic that helps to enhance the edge retention capacity of the knife. In other words, it would enable the blade to hold its sharp edge much longer than anticipated.
However, you need to understand that different grades of stainless steel knives exist. You will also find that most stainless steel knives are poorly made products. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect much from such products. They usually don’t last long or retain their edges for long.
Here’s the definition of stainless steel knives: The first element considered in any stainless steel definition is chromium. It is an essential constituent as far as stainless steel is concerned. Furthermore, for a knife or steel to be called “stainless steel,” it must contain at least 10.5 percent of chromium.
The Grades Of Stainless Steel Knives
You might be wondering why the grades of steel matters. Well, it is what determines everything about the knife. These include corrosion resistance, durability, the hardness of the blade, as well as edge retention.
Now let me ask this question. Have you or someone you know been in a situation whereby a knife that was in use got damaged or blunt? The feeling of such disappointment is always hard to explain. It might even be that you are far away from home or don’t have a replacement to get the job done.
That’s why I said grade matters when it comes to choosing knives. You should also know that steel grade affects the prices of knives. One made of higher or premium-grade steel would cost much more than one made of cheap or low-grade steel. That’s the fact.
Before we go forward to discuss stainless steel grades, let me quickly remind you that cutlery-grade stainless steels tend to have more chromium content. Remember, the use of chromium in the manufacturing of these knives helps to make them corrosion resistant.
So, the impressive thing about cutlery-grade steel knives is that it contains over 13% chromium, which tends to be a big plus. The idea is this oxide helps create a form of passive film over the knife blade that protects it against staining and corrosion.
But make no mistake; a couple of knives out there come manufactured with martensitic stainless steel, which is low-grade steel.
Alright, without wasting time, here are the different grades of stainless steel materials.
The 420 and 420J stainless steel grade –
Here’s the first on this list. It’s not high-end steel anyway. The 420 and 420J are low-quality stainless steel, considered to be at the bottom end of the spectrum. A Knife produced of this steel isn’t super wear-resistant but stain-resistant. In the strength and toughness department, knives made of such stainless steel do perform well, at least to an extent. But it could lose its sharp edge faster than other grades of stainless steel out there.
The 440A, 425M, 420HC, and 6A –
These are similar grades of stainless steel. They have high carbon content too. This 440A grade is more of an upgrade on the 420 and 420J. And in the strength and wear resistance department, it tends to be a much better option. Edge retention is also an added advantage for the 440-grade stainless steel. Plus, it is corrosion-resistant, and you won’t break a sweat while trying to re-sharpen it.
The 440 C, Gin-1, 8A, and ATS-55 –
The third on this list is the 440C and others in the same category, which I mentioned above. This 440C is like an upgrade on the 440A. It contains high carbon and chromium content than the 440A. However, one of the drawbacks is that it is a bit less corrosion resistant than the 440A but much harder. Also, it is much stain-resistant and holds up its sharp edge much longer.
The 154CM (ATS-34) Stainless Steel –
Permit me to start by saying the 400 grades (440A, 425M, 420HC, and 440C) are much better than this 154CM when it comes to stain-resistance. Other than that, the 154CM stainless steel grade knives are sturdier and hold their edges much better.
VG-10 Stainless Steel Knife –
When it comes to toughness and stain-resistance, the VG-10 stands out from the crowd. It also holds its edge much longer than the other lower grades mentioned on this list. The VG-10 contains a high amount of vanadium.
S30V Stainless Steel Knife –
Here comes a stainless steel grade that’s not very friendly when it comes to re-sharpening, thanks to its hardness. It contains 14% chromium. Other constituents include vanadium and molybdenum, which helps to enhance its ability to hold its sharp edge, resist corrosion, and makes it incredibly tough.
Other Grades of Stainless Steel Used In Knife Making
- S60V and S90V – CPM T440V and CPM T420V, respectively.12C27 stainless steel.
- AUS-6, AUS-8, and AUS-10. These are also called 6A, 8A, and 10A.
- ATS-34 stainless steel.
- BG-42 stainless steel.
- Damascus steel
This list is according to the steel grades, from the lowest (420 and 420J) to the highest (Damascus steel). So, please take note!
When we said quality or grade, we are merely referring to the toughness and hardness, including edge retention of the said stainless steel.
So, are stainless steel knives good, in your opinion? Anyway, at this point, you should have the information needed to provide a robust answer. For me, and like I said at the beginning, two things will determine whether the stainless steel knife you are getting is good or not. One is the intended use, and the other is the grade of the stainless steel. A high-Grade stainless steel knife should be able to retain its edge, provides some level of toughness and hardness.