Gift Ideas, How To, Kitchen Neccessities — November 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm

What’s the best knife? Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel Knives

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Kyocera ceramic knives make a nice addition to a kitchen.
Kyocera ceramic knives make a nice addition to a kitchen.

Update: Due to extreme popularity, Part 2 of this article now available.

You want to buy some knives, however there are so many choices. Should you buy Ceramic knives or Stainless Steel ? There are so many different brands as well. Where do you even start? Most people have no idea which way to go, so they just suffer with the same old knives that they have always used.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. The knife is the single most important item in the kitchen. Once you properly know how to use a knife, cooking becomes a lot easier. But before you can use it, you have to buy one. I know…I know, I am master of the obvious.
Let’s start by discussing the main differences between the two. Quite simply it is the materials. Ceramic knives are created often by dry pressing zirconia powder and firing at very high temperatures (1000 degrees). The resultant blade is then sharpened by grinding it on a diamond wheel. The result is a very hard edge that rarely necessitates sharpening. As for a Stainless Steel blade, they are made from alloys. Typical metals found in the alloys are carbon, iron, and chromium. The stainless steel prevents the knife from rusting away.



CERAMIC KNIVES PROS:

  • Ceramic knives for all intents and purposes are sharper than steel knives.
  • Extremely strong composition which allows for the sharp edge.
  • Excellent for slicing vegetables, such as tomatoes, and boneless meat.
  • Ceramic knives are non-porous and impervious to corrosive items, such as acids, and salts.
  • Won’t have to sharpen very often as the blade won’t dull easily.
  • They are almost impossible to stain.

CERAMIC KNIVES CONS:

  • Their strength is their weakness. As a matter of fact, they can be brittle. Take care when dishwashing or storing as they can chip very easy.
  • Very difficult to sharpen yourself. Probably will have to do professionally.
  • Because of the brittleness, not recommended to press garlic or cut through bones or meat. As a matter of fact, Kyocera website says “avoid: carving, prying, and boning.”

STAINLESS STEEL PROS:

  • Knives are very versatile, no restrictions.
  • Knives can be professional sharpened (unless you really know how to do this) to get a very sharp edge.
  • Can press garlic and cut though bones.
  • Stain resistant, not quite at the same level as ceramic, but I have never had a problem.
  • Able to wash in the dishwasher without breaking.

STAINLESS STEEL CONS:

  • May require frequent sharpening.
  • Stainless Steel is porous and can harbor bacteria and odors.
  • Blade unlikely to be as sharp as a ceramic knife.

CONCLUSION: There is no doubt that ceramic knives are significantly better than stainless steel knives in numerous situations. However, it comes with some limitations. When it comes to slicing items such as tomatoes and boneless meats, a ceramic knife is superior. But, the brittleness prevents the knives from being everyday knives. My advice is to buy a Stainless Steel knives set as your everyday knives. If you are budget conscious, stop there. If you still have a few extra dollars, or someone else wants to spoil you, add a two piece ceramic set to supplement the steel knives.

Below are pictures and links to a very nice stainless steel set from Chicago Cutlery and a two piece ceramic set from Kyocera, the first to sell ceramic knives in the US. Both are sold through Amazon. So if you are in need of some new knives, feel free to head over to Amazon and check things out. I would highly recommend each of these for purchase.

Continue To Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Knives, Part 2

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14 Comments

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  2. Ceramic Kitchen Knife

    Thanks for the information, I am extremely impressed with your writing style.

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  9. I received an acrylic bread knife as a wedding gift. The brand is Sabre Paris. I’ve never seen or used a knife like this before and I’d like to know more about it but I can’t seem to find much information anywhere. Is acrylic only used for cutlery that needn’t be very sharp such as spoons, forks, butter knives and bread knives… or do they make whole knife sets this way? Right now I’m assuming it’s the former and it’s done more for stylistic/aesthetic purposes. Any info you could give me would be helpful… I’m not really that experienced in kitchen ware but I’d like to know what I’ve got. Thanks!!

    • Samantha, I have no experience using acrylic knives, so I must preface this as saying, this is an educated guess. I don’t think an acrylic knife could function well as an everyday knife. They may perform some tasks well, bread slicing, however I don’t believe that they would hold up to all the kitchen tasks for which a knife is needed.

      A simple google search for your knife company did turn up product results for complete knife sets. These knives do look good, however I just don’t think they are going to hold up. These knives are stylish, but not functional. My advice if your looking for a quality knife set, is to buy the stainless steel knives.

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  11. Ceramics are too brittle and the sharpening is a pain!!! No diamond stone gives the edge of shapton or chosera water stones. For ultimate super steels look for s90v and s110v or bohler m390, k390 and k294. Any of those steels with good profile and heat treat will take a 10deg relief with 15 deg microbevel with sharpness and edge retention FAR superior to ceramic, also MUCH tougher! Just be prepared to battle to profile those steels, especially when RC rating get over 60 all the way up to 62 or 63RC! Get a pro with edge pro or wicked edge set to do it and the touch up of micro bevel can last months when stropped regularly. These steels have an extremely fine even carbide structure and take RIDICULOUSLY sharp edges when done right. Picture tomato with knife above, knife drops only with knife weight and halves tomato!!! Potatoes chopped like normal people chop onions!!! Good steel is a better choice hands down!!!

  12. Raybuttocks Backside

    Ceramic can be sharpened. The trick is 330, then 1200 grit sandpaper wrapped in a leather block to level any chips, then strop it. That’s really the only downside to ceramic is not knowing how to sharpen if it micro chips. Just a lot of misinformation like Raymond is throwing around. He’s talking about 60 to 63 which is almost as vulnerable to chips.

  13. Has anyone tried Wilson Cutlery Ceramic knives? I stumbled on their site and am just trying to find out more about them…www.wilsoncutlery.com

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