What is The Best Steel for Kitchen Knives

What is The Best Steel for Kitchen Knives

Last Updated: March 1, 2022

Whether you are a hunter, a fisherman, a camper, a chef or a food lover, you surely know the importance of knives. Knives are the most important accessories for all these people. A well-made knife is definitely worth its price. A high-quality knife is beneficial as it will make all sorts of tasks easier and smoother. 

An excellent knife can last you for years with proper maintenance and storage after each use. However, selecting one from such a great variety of cool steel kitchen knives can be problematic, to say the least. You will need to consider your needs and preferences to do so.

Have you ever heard of the Paleolithic period? This is when humans used tools. They were simple tools made using materials that were found near them during that time. The Best Chef Knives are now available in the market which can be a great addition for your kitchen. 

You’ll appreciate these knives whether you are an expert or just a novice. The Top Home Cooks Knives provide ultimate comfort and precision during cutting. Being in the kitchen is fun, but can become repetitive after a while. So why not spice it up with a new knife which will improve your skills and give your life more meaning?

Steel for Kitchen Knives

When we talk about knives, there are two properties that need to be high: sharpness and edge retention. The best steel for kitchen knives should strike a balance between hardness and toughness so the blade can take a beating, yet remain sharp. Different types of steel are used for making kitchen knives. Each type of steel has its own characteristics and manufacturing processes, which determine its price, performance and how the final product looks. 

Steel is the metal used in the construction of kitchen knives, and holds a very important role in the knife making process. It is also a rather complicated material that has had a long history of use in many different industries. Therefore, one might say that steel comes with its own set of stories. In this article we will take a look at all of the main and common steel alloys used in modern knife making today and discuss each of them in detail so you can make an informed decision as to which steel is best for your cutting needs.

What Steels are Used to Make Knives

What Steels are Used to Make Knives

Whether you’re a beginner knife user looking to purchase your first one or an advanced collector looking for the next addition to your growing set, there’s always going to be a question of what steels are used to make knives. Knives are the most popular tool in the world. There are almost 25,000 different kind of knives. The market is full of knives. The selection of knives is a loaded and sometimes confusing topic for a buyer who is new to the world of bladed tools. 

With all the different styles and brands it can even be overwhelming for the experienced knife user. The most important decision you can make when buying a knife will be your choice of steel. Knives are usually made of a combination of metals, which are different types of steels. There are many different steels and each of them has their own characteristics like whether they are tough, resilient or hard. The steels used in knives are chosen according to the work required by it. 

Steel is one of the main components in any knife blade. It performs the function of holding the edge and taking abuse. A variety of steels are used in knife blade construction. The names for the steels may not be the same as those used by knifemakers, created to help describe and identify what they contain and physical properties, but steel alloys use one or more of a limited number of elements as their basis. Let’s take a look at some common knife blade steels.

Steel for Kitchen Knive

The steel is a basic material for the manufacture of knives. Anyone who wants to buy a knife, it is important to know what kinds of steel are used to make the blades. Otherwise, you will be deceived not only by sellers cunning, but also by ignorant «experts» selling knives. Steel is a melt of iron and other metals. 

Carbon content in it gives hardness to the blade (it should never be less than 1%). The cutting edge of any knife is called a blade. Various steels are used to make a blade like molybdenum, vanadium, cobalt and so on. These steels are also used to make other parts of a knife like the handle, bolster and so on. A steel is a steel melt, the composition of which is dominated by iron. Carbon steel is based only on iron and carbon. Steel improved by additives is called alloyed steel. 

Better wearing resistance properties provide zirconium and other rare earth metals additions. Various components give the blade strength, hardness, rust resistance, wear resistance, and ductility. Alloy grades depend on the amount and type of alloying components.

When choosing a quality knife, pay attention to the composition of steel, it determines the set of necessary characteristics that you can expect from the blade :

  • Carbon — sharpness of the cutting edge
  • Molybdenum — resistance to brittleness, anti-corrosion properties of the knife
  • Chrome — strength and corrosion resistance
  • Phosphorus — additionally added against brittleness
  • Nickel — prevents the formation of rust on the surface
  • Silicon — elasticity necessary for comfortable slicing

The knife is a very ancient and useful tool that was made by all cultures of the world. Today it is used for cutting various products, as well as a hunting weapon or a weapon of self-defense. The appearance of the knife has undergone many changes over time, but the basic principle has remained. 

The production of knives on an industrial scale is most often accomplished by melting and stamping blades. For more expensive products, manufacturers resort to the powder method, achieving better hardness and wear resistance. Forged steel is even stronger and harder, but its cost is noticeably higher.

Kitchen Knave

A fine blade should be moderately flexible, resilient, hard, tough, and resistant to shocks and scratches. Properly machined metal allows the blade to remain sharp for long periods of time and not become dull from heavy use and contact with other metal implements. The material should also have good vibration damping capacity and non-toxic qualities. The latter makes it safer.

What to Look for When Buying a Knife

One of the most important characteristics of knife steel is its hardness, which is measured in units of the Rockwell scale (HRc). The manufacturer usually places the hardness rating on the blade itself, so be sure to check when purchasing a knife. After the steel type, hardness is the second-most important factor in determining how a knife will perform. 

The hardness of a knife blade increases its strength and makes it less prone to chipping or breaking. A hard knife steel, also known as a firm blade, has greater density (less holes in the structure) than softer kitchen knife blades. Consequently, a hard blade is less flexible than softer kitchen blades and can withstand corrosion for a longer period of time. Contrary to popular belief, a harder blade does not necessarily sharpen easier than its softer counterpart. 

Since both knives are made from the same material, they will require the same number of strokes to sharpen. The choice of a proper hardness depends on the tasks you will rely on the knife to perform. Knives with low hardness (42-43 HRc) are suitable for cutting soft or medium hardened foods such as tomatoes, non-poisonous foods and semi-soft cheeses. Higher hardness (50-53 HRc) knives are best for cutting meat and slicing hard items.

What to Look for When Buying a Knife

Steel blades are hardened. This technology makes the metal stronger and able to withstand a wide range of temperatures and temperature fluctuations. Hardening is a special way of heat treatment — heating and cooling at the right temperature — that improves the strength of steel. It’s really old. The Hittites and Mesopotamians used it for swords around 1,000 BC. Since then, it’s been one of the most important manufacturing processes for metals like iron & steel. 

The process of hardening steel is based  on cooling the metal. The technology to produce high-quality steel, which has excellent cutting, lost wax and heat-resistant properties, was invented in ancient times. Initially, it was mastered only by skilled people and remained a «professional secret.» This secret was perfect for many years.

Steel blades are hardened

Steel blades are hardened. This technology makes the metal stronger and able to withstand a wide range of temperatures and temperature fluctuations. Hardening is a special way of heat treatment — heating and cooling at the right temperature — that improves the strength of steel. It’s really old. The Hittites and Mesopotamians used it for swords around 1,000 BC. Since then, it’s been one of the most important manufacturing processes for metals like iron & steel. The process of hardening steel is based  on cooling the metal. 

The technology to produce high-quality steel, which has excellent cutting, lost wax and heat-resistant properties, was invented in ancient times. Initially, it was mastered only by skilled people and remained a «professional secret.» This secret was perfect for many years.

Buying a Knife

Powdered steel knives cost more, but last longer and are less troublesome. They withstand temperature fluctuations, are resistant to deformation and keep the cutting edge sharp for a long time. Powdered stainless steel blades present no problems with food, which is why they can be used in professional kitchens. 

Powdered steel knives are made of special alloy that is being ground when heated. This method minimizes the generation of impurities and guarantees excellent dimensional accuracy. 

Such alloy has a thin, irregular grain structure with a large amount of ultra-hard carbides making it resistant to mechanical destruction and having exceptional wear resistance.

Every year the knife is used to cut food, which leads to the blade’s edge to be blunt. It’s necessary to sharpen the knife. Sharpening the cutting edge of the knife can be one-sided or two-sided. It usually takes place on a stone which can be flat, convex or concave. The polished side of the knife is used to sharpen it. Successive strokes are made on the stone by holding the blade at different angles and moving it across it with consistent force in an effort to grind off bits of metal. 

At times, however, the user only grinds off a small portion of the edge of his blade and is therefore required to repeat the sharpening process. Having the proper angle for knife sharpening is important. If you don’t sharpen your knives at the proper angle, you could end up “wearing down” your knife instead of sharpening it. Essentially this means that you are grinding off more metal than necessary to make the knife sharp. 

The sharpening angle for a knife depends upon whether you are right or left handed, and the way in which you are going to use it. For example, most chefs use the knives they work with daily at an angle of 20 degrees. A 20 degree sharpening angle is fine if you use your knives for cutting meat. But if cutting vegetables, a 25 degree angle is a better option.

What Grades of Steel are Better for Knives

What Grades of Steel are Better for Knives

The alloy grade of the knife characterizes the hardness of the steel, the possibility of sharpening at the desired angle, the service life without additional sharpening. The grade must be indicated on the blade, on its packaging and in the product data sheet.

Damascus Steel

Damascus steel is a good choice for a kitchen knife. The alloy consists of different grades of metal and is alloyed with various auxiliary additives. Materials in Damascus steel are arranged in layers, which strengthens the blade, gives it hardness, but remains flexible and resistant to mechanical external influences. 

Competently sharpened blade does not need sharpening for a long time, and if the knife is used only in the kitchen, its service life can be almost eternal.


VG-10 is a high-strength steel for kitchen knives with cobalt content, perfectly sharpenable, keeps the blade sharp for a long time. VG10 steel is used to make durable knives with a long service life without additional sharpening. The alloy is characterized by the highest degree of wear resistance and resistance to corrosion. 

Nevertheless, you will hardly manage to sharpen the knife with hardness of 60-62 HRC on your own, though not often, but you will have to give it to a professional with special equipment.


AUS-8 is one of the best alloys for knives with molybdenum and nickel, which was invented by the Japanese and has been used for more than a century for culinary tasks. AUS-8 is characterized by high hardness and ductility, and proper sharpening allows the edge to remain sharp for a long time. High resistance to corrosion.


40X13 is an inexpensive option for budget category knives. The blade is highly resistant to rust, but does not always boast a long sharpening life.


The 9cr18mov grade is popular among manufacturers because of its high resistance to corrosion, acids and alkalis. These properties are due to the high content of chromium. The 95Cr18 grade (foreign grades may be specified as 440c) is the best steel for inexpensive domestic kitchen knives with a hardness of 59 HRC.


Blades made of 95X18 alloy are hard, elastic, do not blunt for a long time and can be sharpened at home. Among the disadvantages — vulnerability to acids and alkalis, it is important to wash such a knife immediately after cutting most types of products. 

It is easy to care for and sharpen kitchen knives, they are resilient and resistant to fracture. However, the blade is prone to chipping and scratching, and is not suitable for chopping bones and cutting frozen meat.


Stainless steel 100X18 is excellent in sharpening, not afraid of blows, high mechanical loads and corrosion. The best option for a working knife, not only for the home environment, but also for travel conditions.


Stainless steel 100x13m is a special patented steel. Blades made of 100х13m are easy to sharpen and keep their sharpness for a long time, they are resistant to alkalis and acids and are able to withstand considerable mechanical loads. Not only culinary knives, but also hunting knives are made of this stainless steel grade.


Chinese chrome-plated 9CR18MOV carbon steel is optimal for kitchen knives in terms of durability, high resistance to corrosion, and low maintenance. The blades retain their sharpness for a long time, but cannot withstand shocks and work with coarse foodstuffs. They require professional sharpening.

Tips for Operation

Tips for Operation

And for a kitchen knife with a steel blade to be used for a long time, follow the elementary principles of its use and careful care :

  • Do not heat the knife — exposure to high temperatures dulls the cutting part of the knife.
  • If there is rust, do not rush to find chemicals, but try rubbing the stain with a microfiber cloth.
  • Do not leave the blade soiled and wet — be sure to rinse and wipe dry with a paper towel.
  • Knives should be stored independently of other accessories, preferably in a special upright position in a proper stand. Today’s topical solution is a stand with a filler. Thanks to such storage the knives will be reliably isolated from each other.

Recommendations about what kind of steel to buy a knife can be given only after finding out the tasks that will be assigned to it. If we are talking about a butter knife, there is no need to look for the strongest and strongest grade, because in this case the load on the knife is minimal.

Steel for Kitchen Knives

This is not the case with the choice of a tool for cutting meat, here you need higher hardness and sharpness. There is no point in buying kitchen knives to save on a chef’s knife, because he takes part in the work in the kitchen every day, which means that the blade risks getting blunt.

The Best Steel for Kitchen Knives

A knife is one of the most important tools, necessary in any housewife’s kitchen! When choosing a knife, you need to make sure that it fits your hand, and emphasizes your idea of cooking. Choosing an original quality blade! 

Trying to resolve the problem of dull knives, we realized how useful it was to have a sharp knife in our kitchen routine. After all, there are so many daily operations where a quality knife will come in handy: butchering meats and fish, slicing tofu or korzhiki by vegetables for garnish.

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