How to Keep Kitchen Knives from Rusting

If you are worried about your knives rusting, you probably use carbon steel knives. Now, I am not suggesting that it’s impossible for stainless steel knives to rust, but as the name suggests, they are far more resistant to rusting then carbon steel knives.

But if you don’t take care of your stainless steel knives, you shouldn’t be surprised to see stains appear on them. So, how to keep kitchen knives from rusting?

Well, in the case of stainless steel knives, even the bare minimum care would prevent rust. However, for carbon knives, considerable care is required. However, the extra care is worth the trouble is you value your knife’ ability to hold an edge and the relative ease of sharpening them.

How to Keep Kitchen Knives from Rusting?

Steel is a combination of two elements, namely, iron and carbon. If you add some chromium into the mix, the steel will develop some resistance to rust. Now, before we begin, let me just emphasize on the word resistant because it’s practically impossible for any metal to be completely rust proof.

So if you leave a stainless steel knife wet and dirty in the sink, the chances are that you will find it starting to rust. Ifyou see someone complaining about their stainless steel knife starting to rust, don’t worry, it’s not the quality of the knife.

One of the problems with rust is that it doesn’t stop. Once something starts to rust, it just continues to spread. But you knew that. This is why it’s particularly important to make sure none of your knives start to rust in the first place. There are some ways to prevent your knives from rusting, in fact, with some effort you can even limit and contain rust, which is what we will be discussing in this article.

A Dry Knife Doesn’t Rust

Quite self-explanatory isn’t it? If you simply make sure to keep your stainless steel knives clean and dry, it won’t rust. That’s pretty much all you have to do with stainless steel. However, when it comes to carbon steel knives, you will have to develop some important habits.

For example, you need to clean and dry the knife between using it on different ingredients. It’s not as much work as it sounds. Simply rinse the knife tip down in running water and wipe it with a dry towel. If the sink is not in arm’s reach, use a damp cloth to clean and a dry towel to wipe it down.

Avoid Acids

Try to avoid using carbon steel knives with acidic ingredients such as lemons and tomatoes. Since stainless steel reacts much slower to acids, you should always use stainless steel knives when working with acidic ingredients. Every single time you cut something that’s acidic you should immediately rinse and dry the knife. Another thing you can do is try to rub your knives with some slurry of baking soda, as it helps to limit its reactivity, before using it with acidic ingredients.

Embrace the Patina

There is another type of iron oxide that does not result in rusting. This second iron oxide does not get unstable and starts to degrade the metal but instead forms a patina, also known as black iron oxide.

Depending on the ingredients you’re working on, you may sometimes notice slight changes in the color of your carbon steel knives, for example, hues of purple, blue, black, grey or brown. Any of these are good. The only time to be alarmed is when you notice a reddish orange.

This layer is referred to as patina, and since it is a stable compound, it prevents the metal from rusting. Most non-acidic foods will help build patina, but certain foods such as meat or simply soaking the knife in blood will contribute to making it much faster. You can even force a patina using warm vinegar, mustard or potatoes.

Cup of Joe

You can use coffee to force a patina. To do this, you will need cheap pre-ground instant coffee. Brew a pot of strong coffee. When I say strong, I mean something you wouldn’t want to drink yourself.

Once you have your pot of coffee, you will want to refrigerate it. You want the coffee chilled. Get a jug or some other kind of pot where you can put your knife in. Make sure the knife if tip down when you put it inside the pot.

Once the knife is inside the pot, fill it with coffee and make sure the entire blade is submerged while the handle is dry. You will want to leave your knife for at least six hours to eight hours, ideally overnight. After the recommended amount of time has passed, take the knife out, wipe it down with a damp cloth and make sure to dry it properly.

Your knife should be completely transformed by now, aesthetically as well as in its ability to fight off the rust. Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to maintain it, but it will be far more rust resistant than before.

Oil it up

You just cannot neglect carbon steel knives. So, if you have more knives than you can regularly use or if you live in a humid area, you might want to consider oiling your knives with some oil. However, make sure to use traditional oil for storing knives. Otherwise, you will find yourself needlessly scrubbing to get that pesky oil off.

Kill it before it’s too late

No matter how careful you are with your knives, it’s still possible you might see some rust. But if you catch it early, you might just be able to remove it before it’s too late. Use wet dry sand paper. It will clean the rust right off without scratching the surface too much.

Sushi chefs are known to rub daikon on their knives as a precaution. There are some ways to deal with rust.You just have to act before it’s too late. If you are regularly using your knives, then it shouldn’t be much of an issue. But if you have to store them, then you definitely need to make sure they’re oiled and protected.

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