Steel is one of the most popular materials for kitchen knives. It is easy to understand why since steel is sharp and durable, among other good things.
It is worth mentioning, however, that not all types of steel are the same. To be a well-informed buyer, you should know the best steel for kitchen knives.
From stainless to carbon, steels have different properties. They are different in terms of hardness and ease of cleaning, among other things. The price will also vary depending on the steel that is used in a knife.
The options for the best steel kitchen knives will be overwhelming. However, do not see this as an excuse to decide in haste. Read on and we’ll talk about some of the options that should be on your radar.
What Makes Steel Different?
To start this guide, let’s first talk about five of the things that will make the types of steel different.
- Hardness: Expressed as Rockwell Scale or RS, this refers to the ability of steel to resist permanent deformation. This is directly related to the strength of the steel.
- Toughness: It is the ability to resist the applied force. It dictates how it can handle chipping and cracking. Unlike hardness, measuring the toughness of steel is less standardized.
- Wear-Resistance: This refers to the ability of the material to resist abrasive and adhesive wear. Abrasive wear happens when the harder particles pass through a softer surface. On the other hand, adhesive wear is a situation when debris lodges from one surface to another.
- Corrosion-Resistance: As the name implies, it is the ability to resist corrosion, such as rust. Steel must resist moisture and humidity, among other environmental factors.
- Edge Retention: This refers to how long the blade will retain its sharpness, which speaks of the performance of the knife.
Aside from the characteristics mentioned above, steel is also different in terms of their physical composition.
The main materials will dictate the type of steel. Carbon, a hardening element, is one of the most common.
Almost all types of steel in kitchen knives will contain carbon. Chromium is also used to combat corrosion.
To improve the strength of the blade, cobalt, phosphorus, and silicon are common materials used. For maintaining the strength of steel despite elevated temperatures, molybdenum is added.
Introduction to Knife Steel – Which Steel Is Best?
The Best Steel for Kitchen Knives
Steel is a general term that refers to an alloy of iron. It contains carbon, manganese, phosphorus, and silicone, among other things. The composition will vary depending on the type of steel.
This is one of the best choices if you are looking for the best steel in kitchen knives. It is known for being durable and affordable. With its corrosion-resistance, it can last long.
However, it is important to note one thing – true stainless steel does not exist. If you want to be more technical, the stainless steel that we know should be referred to as stain-resistant steel.
To be considered stainless steel, one of the main requirements is that there should be chromium. The amount of chromium will vary, but in most manufacturers, it is at least 10.5%.
One of the most common types of stainless steel is Cronodur 30. It has nitrogen and low-carbon content. Another common type is VG10, which has a high carbon content.
For high-quality German knives, on the other hand, they use stainless steel known as X50CrMoV15, which has stainless, carbon, and chrome, as well as small amounts of vanadium and molybdenum.
A common problem with stainless steel is its performance. It is not as sharp as other blades, which also explains why it is cheap.
You might need to frequently hone the knives, but this should not be a problem if you have the right honing rod for the job.
Also called powder metallurgy, powder steel is a bonded material that mixes several metal powders. The very fine grounded metals are compressed, and high temperature is used for shaping the outcome, especially in knives.
One of the most common types of powder steel used in kitchen knives is MC66. It is recognized as the hardest powder steel.
It also has the highest alloy content, making it a great option if durability is an important concern in your search for the best kitchen knives.
SG2 and SGPS are also common options when it comes to powder steel used in kitchen knives. With the fine structure of these materials, it is possible to add more alloys, and this will result in better hardness. This material is also often laminated.
If the carbon content of steel is over 1%, then it is carbon steel. It does not have a high level of chromium but usually contains vanadium and manganese.
It is known for having a reasonable price and excellent edge retention. However, it can be susceptible to stains. Over time, the blade can be discolored and will not look good.
A popular type of carbon steel in kitchen knives is known as Aogami or blue paper steel. It is a pure type of steel with only carbon as the alloy used.
The carbon is usually in the crystal grid of the steel. It has good corrosion and chipping resistance, assuring that your knife will withstand the test of time.
Another popular option for carbon steel used in kitchen knives is 1095. Although, it is more common in larger heavy-duty blades, such as survival knives.
Types of steel – Carbon vs Stainless. Which is better?
Top Picks for the Best Steel Kitchen Knives 2021 Reviewed
Looking for high-quality kitchen knives to buy? We’ll make your life easier! Below are some of the best products that should be on your radar!
No. 1: Cuisinart C77SS-15PK 15-piece Stainless Steel Knife Set
The brand name itself is already a compelling reason to choose this product. Aside from being made by a reputable manufacturer, we also love how this 15-piece set comes with almost everything you will need in the kitchen, including shears. It also has a honing rod, as well as an elegant-looking block for convenient storage.
High-carbon stainless steel is the main material used in the knives included in this set. The blades are designed to be precise and accurate. Despite the good things, some people were quite unhappy with their poor edge retention and lack of rust resistance.
The ergonomic handles are also worth noting. Made of stainless steel, they are strategically curved to naturally follow the curvature of your hand. Even when using knives for a long time, you do not need to worry about discomfort. You can have a powerful grip to minimize the possibility of slipping.
For your peace of mind, it is also good to know that Cuisinart is offering a limited lifetime warranty. This shows how confident they are of the quality of their product.
- Comes with a block for storage
- Ergonomic handle
- Has a limited lifetime warranty
- Can easily lose sharpness
- Prone to rust
No. 2: Shun Classic 6-inch Chef’s Knife
For most people, they will be immediately discouraged when they see the price of this product. Yes, it is expensive, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t buy it. Every dollar will be worth it once you experience how great this knife is.
Among others, one of the best assets of this knife is its versatility. This chef’s knife can perform multiple functions in the kitchen. This is a great replacement for multiple knives.
This knife is handcrafted in Japan, so you can expect attention even to the smallest detail. It is created by artisans, which is also one of the reasons why it is expensive. According to the manufacturer, there are over a hundred steps to make each knife, which is reflective of uncompromising quality.
The steel used in this knife has been through heat treatment, making it more durable. It provides finer grains in the edges of the knife, which will also result in impressive sharpness.
As for the handle, Pakkawood is the main material used in this knife. It is wood infused with resin, which will be great in terms of water-resistance. However, some people found the handle to be too round, which can be quite tricky to hold for some.
- Easy to control
- Can be awkward to hold
No. 3: Wusthof Classic IKON8-inch Chef’s Knife
This knife from Wusthof is expensive, especially considering that it is only a single knife. At its price, you can already buy a set of knives from other brands. However, its price should not be an issue. It is from one of the most reputable German brands trusted even by experts, so you can expect great value.
Similar to the knife mentioned above, this is also a chef’s knife. It can replace several types of knives, making it a multifunctional addition to any kitchen.
Aside from versatility, the precision forged construction is another thing that makes this an impressive choice for the best steel knives. It is made from a single block of high-carbon stainless steel. It also has Precision Edge Technology, which has been exclusively developed by the manufacturer to make the knife 20% sharper compared to its previous iteration.
The sleek black handle is also worth noting. It has an ergonomic design so that you can hold the knife easily. There is also a double bolster, which will help improve balance.
- Precision-forged construction
- Easy to hold
- Sharp blade
- Difficult to handle
No. 4: Miyabi 34373-203 Chef’s Knife
If the price is not an issue, then this is another notable option for the best steel knife. This is for those who do not mind going on a splurge in exchange for a top-tier knife, which will surely be one of the highlights of your kitchen.
One thing that we love the most about this knife is its design. With its elegant aesthetics, it is easy to see why it is expensive.
More than its looks, it is also praised by many because of its exceptional construction. From the blade to the handle, it uses only premium materials. The core of the blade is SG2 micro-carbide powder steel. It is covered by 100 layers of steel to guarantee longevity.
The striking Karelian Birch handle is another highlight of this impressive knife. It is an exquisite material with an ergonomic design, making sure of the highest level of comfort of the user.
- Elegant design
- Comfortable to hold
- Poor finish
No. 5: Misono Swedish Carbon Steel Gyutou Knife
Wrapping up our list of the best steel knives is another expensive product. However, do not let the price discourage you from choosing this product over its competitors. There’s a reason why it costs a lot – it has exceptional quality.
The knife uses the highest-grade carbon steel. It is one of the purest forms of such material. To add, it also has a hand-forged construction, which is reflective of the best in terms of craftsmanship while also assuring its longevity.
Many were also happy with how razor-sharp the knife is. Nonetheless, it requires care and maintenance to make it sharper longer. Otherwise, the blades can easily go blunt. Without proper care, it can also be easily prone to rust and stain.
- Made using premium materials
- Exceptional sharpness
- Etched design is too deep
- Rusts quickly
Steel is the most popular material that you will find in kitchen knives. It is sharp and long-lasting, among other benefits. However, the benefits can differ depending on the type of steel.
If you are looking for the best steel for kitchen knives, consider those that have been listed above. From toughness to edge retention, they exhibit different properties. Be responsible enough to evaluate which one is best for your needs.