A kitchen knife is an essential must-have for any cook, whether a home or professional cook. Like most kitchen equipment, a good quality kitchen knife should last you a significant number of years. It’s not always easy to pinpoint how long your kitchen knife will last, especially if you are an inexperienced cook. So, we are here to help! This detailed guide helps you figure out just how long a kitchen knife will last you and how to choose the perfect long-lasting knife.
Here’s How Long Do Kitchen Knives Last?
A good quality kitchen knife should last you a lifetime. However, maintenance plays a crucial role in ensuring this longevity. To extend the longevity of a knife, you should sharpen it consistently, depending on how frequently you use it.
The reason why a good quality knife will last you a lifetime is that when its edge dulls, you can easily sharpen it. Additionally, the right kind of sharpener can clear out and tweak any imperfections that may form on the blade overtime.
But, when thinking of the knife’s longevity, don’t only focus on the blade. You have to consider other factors like the knife’s handle and overall design. For example, a half tang knife is more likely to snap in two than a full tang one.
What Are the Best Materials for Kitchen Knives?
The best materials for kitchen knives include stainless steel, carbon steel, high carbon stainless steel, ceramic, and Damascus steel. While both materials are great, each option comes with a unique advantage.
Stainless steel knives are known for their incredible weather resistance. These knives are highly resistant to rust, corrosion, and discoloration, due to their high chromium content. Furthermore, stainless steel knives don’t pose the risks of leaching or reacting with acidic foods as metals such as iron. Stainless steel knives are also great for those who want a shiny and aesthetically pleasing knife.
Carbon steel comprises carbon steel fused with iron. This combination gives the knife an ultra-sharp and long-lasting edge compared to a stainless steel knife. In addition to their durability, carbon steel knives are quite affordable. However, like cast iron skillets, they require frequent seasoning to reduce the likelihood of rust and corrosion build-up.
High Carbon Stainless Steel
A relatively new knife material, high carbon stainless steel combines carbon steel and chromium-molybdenum steel. Like stainless steel knives, high carbon steel knives are resistant to rust, corrosion, and discoloration.
Additionally, similar to carbon steel knives, high carbon stainless steel knives also offer an ultra-sharp and longer-lasting edge. Most professional chefs prefer to use these knives for their durability and sharpness. They are also great for cutting meat, thanks to their sharpness. However, they can be quite expensive.
Ceramic knives are another popular option among professional chefs. These knives are known for their sharp blades and incredible edge retention. Ceramic knives are also resistant to rust, stains, and discoloration. Unlike metal knives, ceramic knives are quite light, making them easy to handle and control. However, you have to exercise extra caution when using a ceramic knife as it can be extremely sharp.
Damascus steel knives refer to knives with blades made from layers of different types of steel fused together. Damascus steel is typically used by knife artists and makers that want to achieve unique and attractive patterns. These knives offer great quality but can be a little costly.
Why Are Good Kitchen Knives So Expensive?
Good kitchen knives are expensive due to the craftsmanship put into their fabrication and materials used. Most of the cost that goes into knife making is taken up by steel.
To produce good quality knives, you must go for high-grade steel, which increases the cost significantly. Other factors that contribute to high knife costs include cutting tools (for fabricating the blades).
When Should You Upgrade Your Old Kitchen Knives?
You should upgrade your old kitchen knife at least once every five years. To do so, you can have a professional blacksmith redo, reblue, and even faceplate the blades. This helps to restore their performance and edge sharpness as if they were new.
How Often Should You Sharpen Your Knives?
You should sharpen your knife at least once a year. However, if you use your knife more regularly, increase the sharpening frequency to at least twice a year. In addition to sharpening your knife, you should also hone it.
Honing should be done more frequently at least after every 2 to 4 uses at home and after every use in a commercial or professional setting. The honing and sharpening practice helps maintain a sharp edge on your knife, decreasing the risks of injuries and maintaining better food prep quality.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Knife Damage?
Many factors in your kitchen can easily lead to damage to your kitchen knives. Here are the most common causes for knife damage:
- Using your knife for the wrong food or household items – for example, using a regular kitchen knife to cut thick bones or as a box cutter
- Frequently washing your knife in the dishwasher, which leads to rust and corrosion build up as well as dulling
- Using your knife on stone or glass cutting boards as they cause the blade to grind and chip
- Poor storage practices, like letting your knife clatter around your kitchen drawers
- Leaving the knife in wet conditions, increasing the risks of rust and corrosion build-up
- Putting the knife in storage while still wet
- Not drying the knife immediately after washing (leaving it on the sink drying rack)
- Scrapping your knife across the cutting board (the side to side motions bend the edge)
- Poor sharpening and honing practices (using the knife when it’s dull)
Do Expensive Knives Last Longer Than Cheap Knives?
For the most part, expensive knives last longer than cheap knives. This is because most expensive knives use the highest grade and quality blade materials, like high-end high carbon stainless steel or Damascus steel.
But sometimes, the price alone will not guarantee your knife’s durability and longevity. Proper maintenance and care still play an important role in preserving your knife’s durability and performance.
Therefore, if poorly maintained, an expensive knife can very easily be outperformed by a cheaper one. Moreover, an expensive price tag may not mean a knife is of good quality. After all, you can easily score very good quality cheap knives when you thoroughly scour the market.
Here’s How You Can Make Your Kitchen Knives Last Longer
There are several ways you can prolong the durability and performance of your knife. Here’s how to do so;
Sharpen the Knife Regularly
Sharpening and honing your knife increases edge retention and knife durability. Make sure you hone your knife at least after every 2 to 4 uses and have it professionally sharpened at least once or twice a year.
Use a Cutting Board
A cutting board is essential, not only for producing clean and neat cuts on your food. It is also essential for protecting your knife’s blade. To prevent the blade from grinding or chipping, go for wooden, plastic, or grain cutting boards. Avoid stone and glass cutting boards at all costs.
Hand Wash the Knife and Avoid the Dishwasher
Even knives advertised as being dishwasher safe should never be tossed into the machine. Instead, you want to hand wash your knife. Tossing a knife in the washer will dull the blade overtime.
Additionally, the use of water and harsh soap chemicals will ultimately lead to the formation of rust and corrosion. To further preserve your knife’s durability, make sure you wipe it immediately after washing and store it away in its knife block. Never leave it wet to air dry on the drying rack.
Apply Oil to the Knife Before Storing It Away
This practice isn’t limited to carbon steel knives alone. Oiling your knife before storage seals and protects the blade. The oiling also creates a barrier, protecting the blade from air and acids (when used on acidic foods like tomatoes or oranges).
Store the Knife in a Wood Block or a Magnetic Rack
Storing your knife in a special knife wooden block or magnetic rack protects the blade against potential damage. For example, letting a kitchen knife clutter around a drawer makes it susceptible to nicks and dings from other loose items in the drawer. In these specialized storage options, the blade will not come in contact with any item, reducing the risks of chipping or breaking.
The bottom line is the best kitchen knives are built to last you a lifetime. However, you should never depend on the fabrication alone. Even the best quality and high-end knives can very easily get damaged and fray in performance. In addition to choosing a good quality knife, you must also exercise the right care and maintenance practices, the number one being consistent sharpening of the blade.
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I’m a food and cooking enthusiast and I love testing new kitchen gadgets almost as much as I love eating new, different exciting foods. Most of the time I try to taste new recipes even sometimes I cook. But if I don’t then I go to my computer and start writing for my blog or research for other kitchen products manually. I believe the kitchen and food are an important part of our everyday life. That’s why I spend tons of time on it and learned a lot about it.