Stainless steel or carbon steel?
Waarom is koolstof staal beter?

Carbon steel and stainless steel are two commonly used steels for making kitchen knives. Each type of steel has its own specific structure with different materials and requires a different approach for maintenance. The choice of steel type influences the appearance and sharpness of your blade. 

The secrets of a steel grade 

From their names, you can immediately deduce the most obvious difference between these two steel grades: carbon steel and stainless steel. Stainless steel was mainly developed to overcome the natural vulnerability of carbon steel. Carbon steel is less resistant to corrosion. Does that mean that carbon steel is inferior? No. Both steels have a protective layer, but react differently to exposure to air and moisture. 

To understand this, it is important that we distinguish between rust and patina formation. Rust is the reaction of iron to oxygen in the air. Rust can be prevented by adding chrome to the iron. This is exactly what happens with stainless steel. The chrome particles will attach to oxygen, which creates a protective layer around the metal. 

Once the patina has been formed, it acts as a protective layer around the metal. 

Brecht Loterman • Managing Director Chef & Knife

Carbon steel does not have this chrome effect, but it does have a very high carbon content. This ensures that a patina forms on the surface of the metal on contact with water. This patina provides a dark discoloration of the blade and gives the blade its own unique pattern. It helps determine the appearance of your knife, and the traces of use show the character. Once the patina has been formed, it acts as a protective layer around the metal. 

Maintenance

Stainless steel is very easy to maintain. The steel is resistant to external influences. If your kitchen knife remains unclean after use, the leftover food residues will not leave stains. You do not have to worry if your kitchen knife remains wet after washing. No rust will form. 

A carbon steel kitchen knife will stay sharp longer than stainless steel with good maintenance. 

Brecht Loterman • Managing Director Chef & Knife

Carbon steel kitchen knives need more care. These knives respond to their environment. To keep your knife in optimal condition, it is important to wipe the blade with a dry kitchen towel after use. Make sure that a carbon steel kitchen knife does not remain in the water. Over time, the water can penetrate through the protective layer on the surface and there is a risk of rusting. 

Maintenance Influence on the sharpness of your kitchen knife 

When properly maintained, a carbon steel kitchen knife will stay sharp longer compared to one of stainless steel. The cut of the blade will remain intact longer. This has everything to do with the composition of the two steel grades. The structure of both types of steel is different and this is evident on the edge of the knife in the cutting edge. 

With stainless steel kitchen knives, minuscule holes will develop more quickly at the edge of the cutting edge, resulting in a more uneven cut. This makes cutting less smooth, as the blade is less sharp. Carbon steel kitchen knives naturally have an even structure, resulting in prolonged retention of their shape and sharpness. 

Foto's door Morgane Gielen

Geschreven door Alissa Perreman en Brecht Loterman 

www.chefandknife.be / info@chefandknife.be