We have listed the most common blade types for kitchen knives.
Before stainless steel and ceramic blades were introduced into the marketplace, high-carbon steel was one of the very few options. Even with the inclusion of stainless steel and ceramic blades, high-carbon steel has maintained much of its popularity.
One of the major reasons for high-carbon steel’s popularity is its ability to maintain a sharp cutting edge. Obviously, with time, any blade will slowly grow dull – a high-carbon blade is no different. Still, it holds its edge better than most competitors. Also, despite its incredible strength and durability, high-carbon steel is much easier to sharpen than stainless steel.
Steel is a compound of iron and carbon. Yet to be classified as high-carbon steel, it needs to have anywhere from 0.6% to 1.7% carbon by weight. For premium cutlery and knives, the higher carbon content is typically better. For one, higher carbon allows for a sharper cutting edge. To be considered stainless steel, the steel must have a chromium content of more than 12%. While all steel contains carbon, typically steels that do not contain chromium are referred to as carbon steels.
The differences between high carbon steel can be subtle, but they all work to create a specific knife experience. Below we explain the differences between white steel, blue steel, as well as the different types of each.
- WHITE HIGH-CARBON STEEL #1 & #2
White steel is made from finely grained carbon steel that lacks a lot of contaminants within the iron, meaning that knives made from white, high-carbon steel are able to sharpen into a razor-like edge. Many sashimi chefs love white steel knives because they can create very fine, exact cuts of fish, vegetables, and garnish. Very volatile and difficult to forge, white steel varies in its level on carbon content. #1 has the highest and will, therefore, hold its cutting edge the best. However, it’s also the most brittle, which is typically why #2 is the most commonly used by chefs.
- BLUE HIGH-CARBON STEEL #1 & #2, AND SUPER BLUE HIGH-CARBON
As stated above, steel consists of iron and carbon but different alloys can be added to create different types of steel. For example, stainless steel is created from added chromium. Blue steel has tungsten and chromium added to the iron and carbon to create an easier tempering process and also a knife that holds its edge longer than a white steel knife, however, while not taking on such a fine cutting edge. Just like white steel #1 and white steel #2, blue, high-carbon steel #1 has more carbon content than its #2 companion and super blue high-carbon steel has added vanadium for wear resistance and has the longest edge life of the blue steels.
Stainless steel gained popularity based mostly on its rust-resistant properties. Thanks to its rust-resistant properties, stainless steel is completely dishwasher safe. This means that, unlike old high-carbon knives, new stainless steel knives can be used, thrown in a dishwasher, and worried about later. As with all things, though, this convenience comes with a price.
Stainless steel blades simply do not stay sharp for nearly as long as high-carbon blades. In fact, this realization had a lot of people changing their minds soon after stainless steel knives came into popularity – returning to the tried and true, high-carbon blade they were used to.
- Cromova stainless steel
is steel with 0.8 % carbon and added chrome, molybdenum, and vanadium. Cromova steel has a fine grain structure and can be sharpened very sharp. It combines good cutting characteristics with good rust resistance.
- Cronodur 30 stainless steel
Cronodur 30 is stainless steel with low carbon content and the addition of nitrogen. That benefits the resistance against corrosion while the hardness is good too.
- D2 / SKD11 Stainless powder steel
D2 and SKD11 are named for the same powder steel. Its fine structure and good distribution of the elements make it possible to add more alloy elements than in regular stainless steel. That increases the hardness and cutting characteristics. D2 / SKD11 steel is slightly harder than SG2 / SGPS steel but because of the lower chrome content less rust resistant too. It often is called a semi-stainless steel type.
- Carbon steel HRC 60
This steel is hard at 60 Rockwell C hard, but not extremely hard. The carbon percentage is 0.8%.
- SG2 / SGPS Stainless powder steel
SG2 and SGPS are two names for the same powder steel. Its fine structure and good distribution of the elements makes it possible to add more alloy elements than in ordinary stainless steel. That increases the hardness and cutting characteristics. Nevertheless, the rust resistance of SG2 / SGPS is higher than that of VG10 steel.
- X50CrMoV15 Stainless steel
The rust resistance is high and the cutting characteristics are perfect.
Excellent for family use and professional use where not everyone is careful with the knives. For info: X stands for stainless, 50 for 0.50% carbon and 15 for 15% Chrome. In addition, the steel contains small quantities of Molybdenum and Vanadium to improve the grain structure and durability.
High-Carbon Stainless SteelHigh-carbon stainless steel keeps its edge longer than stainless steel; it is much more rust-resistant than high-carbon steel and will stay sharper much longer than stainless steel.
- VG10 (V-Gold 10) Stainless steel
Ceramic is slowly becoming a popular option in cookware. It creates a perfect non-stick surface without the chemicals you often see used in non-stick coatings. Additionally, whereas non-stick coatings can flake off, ceramic coatings are there to stay – so long as you do not drop them. Non-stick surfaces are what made the popularity of ceramic rise in the world of pots and pans. In the knife world, however, realizing the benefits of ceramic has taken a little longer.
Ceramic blades, manage to stay sharp for an incredibly long time. Additional impressive features of ceramic blades are that they will not pit or stain as the result of contact with acidic or salt-based foods. They are also rust-resistant, like stainless steel, and can usually be placed in the dishwasher for a quick clean.
Which kind of knives do you have? How is your experience with the knives?