There are a few materials that can be used to make kitchen knives, including titanium, which is often combined with silver, diamond, or ceramic. However, the most popular and arguably best material to make a kitchen knife out of is steel.
But wait—there are a number of different types of steel too, all with their own unique properties and benefits! Wondering which one might be best for you? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Here, we take you through the benefits of steel and explore the various different types of steel kitchen knives available here at Milly’s Store, including Damascus steel, stainless steel, and carbon steel.
We also share our top tips on how to care for and maintain your steel kitchen knives, so you can get the most out of them.
The different types of steel kitchen knife
When shopping around for kitchen knives, there are three main types of steel you’re going to come across. These are:
- Stainless steel
- Damascus steel
- Carbon steel
There are a number of reasons why steel in general is one of the best materials to make a kitchen knife from, including:
- Steel maintains an edge well so it won’t need sharpening as often as other materials.
- Steel isn’t as brittle as other materials, like titanium, so it is more hardwearing.
- Stainless steel is extremely resistant to rust and corrosion.
- Steel can withstand more pressure against cutting surfaces than other materials, which makes for more comfortable and more effective use.
- Steel is less expensive than other materials such as titanium.
However, there are also a whole host of benefits unique to each specific category of steel.
Let’s take a look at each one in more detail so you can make more informed product-buying decisions…
Stainless steel knives
Stainless steel is a material that most of us will be extremely familiar with around our kitchens—and in a lot of other places too for that matter.
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron that is resistant to rusting and corrosion. It contains at least 11% chromium and may contain other elements to achieve various product properties. That’s what makes it such a desirable material for so many different things; it can be exposed to water and moisture and is resistant to damage if cared for correctly.
Benefits of a stainless steel knife
- Chopping, slicing, dicing, peeling, washing—whatever you’re doing with your kitchen knife, you can guarantee it’s going to get wet or come into contact with potential corrosive substances. Choosing a stainless steel kitchen knife means you can avoid damaging your knives and benefit from low maintenance demands.
- Stainless steel knives don’t easily stain or discolour.
- Stainless steel is extremely easy to protect with simple kitchen knife cleaning and drying habits. See our helpful tips on how to care for your knifes.
Upgrade your collection with our Global G-636/7B 7 Piece Knife Block Set, made from the best stainless steel in the business.
Things to consider:
- Due to the addition of chromium, and other elements some stainless steel blades will require more maintenance and sharpening than other types of materials. Stainless steel is extremely easy to protect as long as you follow our kitchen knife cleaning and drying recommendations. See our helpful tips on how to care for your knives.
- Due to them not being as sharp as their carbon steel and Damascus steel counterparts, stainless steel knives often need sharpening more regularly for optimal use. See our Global Knives G Series 18cm Santoku Knife G46.
What is Damascus steel?
The origins of Damascus steel date all the way back to 300 and 500 A.D. when it was used to create weapons and blades. It is a type of alloy that combines different layers of steel in different densities. Damascus Steel can be manufactured with up to 67 layers of steel.
Our Kasumi Damascus Santoku Knife 13cm Blade, for example, is made from 32-layer Damascus steel, which has created almost tree-like patterns on the blade.
Modern Damascus steel production techniques involve adding high percentages of carbon to the original material, heating it into a more malleable form, and then cooling it into shape. Once formed, it becomes extremely durable and therefore is a popular choice for premium tools, vehicle parts, and of course, kitchen knives.
Wondering if something has been made from Damascus steel? You’ll be able to recognise it instantly by its signature wavy surface pattern.
It’s a light and dark pattern that looks like the swirly marks made when oil meets water—a visually appealing feature of Damascus steel knife designs. The synonymous pattern is caused by the varying degrees of carbon present.
Benefits of a Damascus steel knife
Many people are drawn to Damascus steel kitchen knives as an aesthetic choice because of their unique pattern— they do look pretty cool in the kitchen after all.
However, there is also a whole host of functional benefits that make Damascus steel a great option for a kitchen knife too, including:
- Damascus knife steel is some of the sharpest you can get.
- They also hold an edge for a long time so won’t need sharpening on a regular basis.
- They’re beautiful to look at so make a great addition to your kitchen decor.
- Thanks to the layering of hard and soft steels, a Damascus steel knife has the benefit of being extremely hard wearing but still flexible. This provides fantastic versatility in both professional and amateur kitchens.
See our Kai Shun Premier Tim Malzer 20cm Chef's Knife which is manufactured from 67 layer VG10 Steel.
Some things to keep in mind
- Damascus steel isn’t stainless steel so it will rust and corrode more easily if you don’t look after it properly.
- A Damascus steel knife is one of the more expensive options (but worth the investment, in our opinion).
Think Damascus steel might be the one for you? Check out our Gourmet Damascus 67 Layer VG10 Steel 5 Piece Knife Block Set. It comes with a complimentary set of kitchen shears too.
Carbon steel kitchen knives
This type of kitchen knife is made using a combination of iron and carbon. How much carbon is used dictates the category a kitchen knife falls under, whether they’re soft steel, medium carbon steel, or high carbon steel.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the higher the amount of carbon, the harder and more rigid the blade. Lower percentages of carbon produce a more yielding type of carbon steel kitchen knife.
Is carbon a good type of knife steel?
Yes, carbon steel is a great material for kitchen knives as it creates a sharp, rigid blade that maintains an edge well and won’t need sharpening very regularly.
Carbon steel knives are also known for being some of the thinnest-edged blades, which makes them a great tool to reach for when you’re looking to make precise, neat cuts.
It might not be necessary when you’re slicing a loaf of sourdough but if you’re cutting something intricate, small or delicate, for example, carbon knife steel could be your best friend.
Carbon knife steel is also highly resistant to impact so it won’t be easily damaged or blunted when you’re chopping and slicing against hard surfaces.
Some things to consider
- Just like Damascus steel, carbon knife steel can also be corroded or rusted if it’s not cared for correctly as it isn’t a type of stainless steel. This means they require a little more looking after when it comes to cleaning and drying.
- Carbon steel kitchen knives are often slightly more pricey than cheaper stainless steel options, so it depends on how much you’re looking to splash out on a new knife.
Milly’s Store: the home of industry-leading steel knives, kitchen accessories, and more.
We hope you’ve found this whistlestop tour of steel kitchen knives helpful and that you’re now feeling more confident to head to checkout with the perfect products for you.
A kitchen knife collection is something you should grow over time so that you can have a selection of different styles, shapes, and materials to hand when you need them. Each of the types of steel we’ve explored here brings its own advantages and has its own rightful place in any kitchen.
After all, if you’re going to take your cookery skills to the next level—whether you’re a humble home cook or a polished professional chef—you need all the right tools in your toolkit (or knife block).