One of the materials used in making knives is steel. It is an alloy of iron and carbon, and it can be further classified into several types. The most common are stainless steel, tool steel, and high carbon steel. So, what is the best steel for knives?
The answer to this question depends on what you need the knife for. If you need a knife that will be used for general purposes such as cutting vegetables or opening boxes, then a stainless steel knife is a good choice. Stainless steel knives are easy to care for and they resist rust and corrosion.
At kitchen infinity, we’ve tried and tested several kitchen knife brands over the years. We’ve also consulted with experts to get their insights on what makes a great kitchen knife. Based on our findings, we bring you the most accurate and up-to-date information on kitchen knives.
Here is our comprehensive review to help you choose the best steel for your kitchen knives.
Types of Steel Used in Knives
There are a number of different types of steel that can be used for knives. The most common are carbon steel, stainless steel, and tool steel.
Carbon Steel Knife
Carbon steel is the most common type of steel used in knife making. It is made by combining iron with carbon. Carbon steel knives are known for their durability, edge retention, and ease of sharpening. Although carbon steel is very strong, it’s duller and more prone to corrosion than stainless steel.
Stainless Steel Knife
Stainless steel is a type of steel that contains at least 10.5% chromium. This makes it more resistant to rust and corrosion than carbon steel. Stainless steel knives are also known for their durability and ease of sharpening. However, they are not as strong as carbon steel knives and can be more difficult to sharpen.
Titanium is a lightweight, strong metal that is resistant to corrosion. Titanium knives are incredibly durable and hold their edge well. However, they are very expensive and can be difficult to sharpen.
Damascus steel is made by layering different types of steel and folding them together. This creates steel that is strong and has a beautiful, unique grain pattern. Damascus steel knives are very sharp and hold their edge well, but they can be difficult to sharpen.
Tool Steel Knife
Tool steel is precisely used for what it sounds like, tools. Tool steel is incredibly hard and heat resistant, thanks to the inclusion of durable elements like tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium.
Best Knife Steels: Tried and Tested
Below are other best knife steels that have been tried and tested and will perform well under most conditions. These steels have been used in making some of the best kitchen knives on the market.
1. CPM S110V
CPM S110V is stainless steel that contains vanadium and is designed to withstand high wear and tear. Thanks to the addition of vanadium, this steel has excellent edge retention and is very easy to sharpen. It is also resistant to corrosion.
- Excellent edge retention
- Extremely hard
- It has excellent wear and corrosion resistance
- Unpleasant to sharpen
- Can easily chip away with forceful usage
This is another stainless steel that contains vanadium for excellent edge retention. However, it differs from CPM S110V in that it has a higher carbon content. This makes the steel harder and more resistant to corrosion. This is the best knife steel for making kitchen and outdoor knives that come in contact with water due to its high hardness, edge retention and corrosion resistance.
- Very easy to sharpen
- Excellent edge retention
- Highly corrosion resistant
- Hard to weld
- A bit brittle
3. CPM S35VN
If you are looking for steel that can take a lot of abuse, then CPM S35VN is the way to go. This steel was designed to be tough, and it shows. It has excellent edge retention and is very resistant to impact. It is also relatively easy to sharpen, making it a great option for knives that see a lot of hard use.
- Resists rust and corrosion
- Easier to sharpen
- Can withstand high forces
- Reduced edge retention
When it comes to EDC knives, you can’t go wrong with 154CM. This steel is tough yet still offers good edge retention. It is also relatively easy to sharpen, making it a great choice for everyday use.
For knife enthusiasts who are looking for a steel knife for everyday use,154CM is the way to go.
If you’re also looking to purchase the best hunting knife and the best pocket knife or cutlery, you may want to consider this type of knife steel.
- Great for EDC, kitchen, fishing and hunting
- High corrosion resistance
- Heavy handles
- Hard to machine
This particular knife steel is used for survival-based knives. It is also great steel for bushcraft knives. 1095 offers great edge retention and is tough enough to withstand hard use.
- Great edge retention
- Inexpensive compared to other types of steel
- Good wear resistance
- Low corrosion resistance
- Can rust if not cared for properly
6. D2 Stainless Steel
D2 is a type of stainless steel that is great for knives that will be used in outdoor activities. It offers good wear resistance and edge retention. This steel falls into the category of tool steels, hard and heat resistant steel alloys.
- Good wear resistance
- Stays sharp for a long period of time
- Hard to sharpen
- Edges will chip and rust if not regularly used and maintained
What to Look for in the Best Knife Steel
There are several factors that influence the quality of a knife blade. Here are some of the most important things to look for in steels used to make different types of kitchen knives.
Hardness and Durability
Good knife steel should be hard enough to withstand repeated use without chipping or breaking. It should also be durable enough to resist corrosion. Hardness is measured in terms of Rockwell units, with higher values generally better than lower values. Some of the most high-quality knife steel options use powder metallurgy and superior edge geometry to get the best performance out of a good edge.
Toughness is the ability of a material to resist breakage under impact or stress. Generally, the tougher the knife steel, the more resistant it is to chipping and breaking. The best knife steels have high toughness values.
Good knife steel should be able to retain its edge for a long time. Edge retention is a measure of how well knife steel can resist wear and tear. The best knife steels have high edge retention values. Edge retention is the ability of a metal to maintain a sharp edge, also known as cutting angle, after use.
Chemical, thermal and mechanical factors can dull the metal’s edges. Other factors determining a knife’s edge retention include the type of steel, edge geometry, and how the blade is manufactured. The better edge retention the knife steel has, the less frequently you’ll need to sharpen your knife.
Corrosion resistance is the ability of a metal to resist rust and other forms of deterioration. The best knife steels have high corrosion resistance values. Rust forms when a metal is exposed to factors like moisture, salts, and acids. Corrosion resistance also determines whether your knife is stainless or not.
Stainless steel knives are considered the best for their corrosion resistance. This is because of the high chromium content and vanadium in the steel alloy. Also, knives with high carbon count have a high level of corrosion resistance, but the tradeoff is less prone to deformation and blunting.
Ease of Sharpening
All knives might get dull at some point, and the only way to get them back to their razor-sharp form is by sharpening them. While all knife steels can be sharpened, some are harder to sharpen than others.
The hardness of the steel will determine how easy or difficult it is to sharpen your knife. Harder steel will stay sharper for a longer time but will be more difficult to sharpen when it does get dull. Softer steels, on the other hand, are easier to sharpen but will require more frequent sharpening.
The best steel for knives is one that strikes a balance between hardness and ease of sharpening. For most people, this means steel with a Rockwell hardness rating of around 56-58 HRC.
Another important factor to consider when choosing the best steel for knives is wear resistance. This is the ability of the steel to resist being damaged or worn down over time. Hardness and wear resistance go hand in hand because high levels of carbides are more wear-resistant, and high-carbon steel is more likely to be hard.
FAQs on the Best Knife Steels
What is the difference between carbon steel and stainless steel?
Carbon steel contains more carbon than stainless steel, making it harder and more brittle. Stainless steel contains more chromium, making it resistant to corrosion.
What is the best knife steel for durability?
The best knife steel for durability is one with high carbon content and stainless steel. This will give the knife blade sharpness, hardness, and corrosion resistance.
What is the best knife steel for the money?
The best knife steel for the money is one that is both affordable and of high quality. For instance, many people believe that Damascus steel is the best option available, but it can be quite expensive. In general, any knife steel that is made of high-carbon stainless steel and has a good reputation should be a good choice for the money.
Overall, CPM S110V is the best knife steel that is tested to withstand high wear and tear.
The next knife steel is CPM S35VN. If you’re looking for knife steel that can take all the abuse you throw at it, then this is the best choice. It’s also designed to be tough and has great edge retention and is very resistant to impact.
Lastly, the 1095 steel knife is the last one in the best category. This is the best knife steel to use in heavy-duty tasks. It offers great edge retention and is tough enough for hard use.
The best knife steel is one that is both durable and affordable. There are many different types of knife steels available on the market, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase. With all these different types of knife steels, you should be able to find one that is perfect for your needs.
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Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.