Have you decided to foray into the fascinating world of high-quality kitchen knives?
If the answer is positive, you might want to look into the details and specifications to find the best steel knives.
With the progress of modern metallurgy and hunting down ancient metal combinations, all the major knife companies have gone a step ahead to provide you the exact knife that suits your perfect request.
Since cooking requires you to deal with many textures and types of food, it is always a decent idea to buy a specific knife that suits your exact needs.
Knowing each element of a type of knife will surely come in handy when purchasing your next best set of knives.
Let us learn more about what goes into making the perfect sharp knife.
Type Of Steel For Kitchen Knives
#1 1055 culinary knife steel
1055 steel is the eldest and dominant steel material available on the market. Its popularity rose because of its exceptional toughness and intense nature.
This steel is the most top-notch material that knife manufacturers use in making their best-selling knives.
This knife has a hardness of 55 HRC, which comprises 0.55% of carbon with a small but pronounced quantity of manganese.
Because of its sturdy nature, you will often find 1055 steel in machetes, cleavers, and most types of meat and heavy-duty kitchen knives.
#2 4166 Krupp
This steel variety is specially manufactured by Thysen Krupp that keeps its exact formula a secret.
4166 Krupp steel is not found in low to mid-range knives; only high-ranged premium knives are made using this material.
These knives are ideally known for their excellent balance of toughness, edge retention, and rust resistance.
This material has a Rockwell hardness of 57 HCR, making it only available to the higher-priced range.
Wusthof has an excellent range of 4166 kitchen knives but get ready to shell out more than $120 for one knife.
SK-5 has quickly replaced Carbon V steel because of its intense Rockwell hardness of a whopping 63 HRC.
This hardness comes in handy to operate for heavy kitchen projects. The knives of this material have excellent wear resistance because of their ultra-fine grain and carbon carbides.
Its durability and hardness drive this product to be the number one choice for people who wish to invest in high-quality knives.
SK-5 is also used in many survival instruments like axes, survival knives, hatchets.
#4 420J Steel Knives
The 420J steel material is usually used for making and manufacturing affordable kitchen knives.
The affordability doesn’t make it a low-grade steel knife that gives unsatisfactory results; on the other hand, you will feel the blade is worth every penny and more.
The steel is highly rust-resistant. It indeed lacks in the durability department, and the edges tend to roll from the edges.
You can easily manipulate the rolls as it is relatively easy to sharpen the blades. Many people love to have a set of 420J knives in their kitchen for quick cutting and general use.
VG-1 is a type of stainless steel mixture which is originated in Japan.
It has a Rockwell hardness of 60 HCR, making it a high-quality knife material even for kitchen use.
VG-1 is the first model from the VG series that has even better options as the series moves further. This steel uses a mixture of 14% chromium and 1% carbon.
Many professional chefs and knife enthusiasts love the texture of this old model, even if it tends to chip and rust very easily if not handled properly.
The experts usually treat it as a challenge and always bet to see how long they can care before it rusts or chips.
With the advent of VG-10, many professionals shifted to this model because of its overall durability.
The mixture has an HRC of 60 with excellent rust control and edge retention. The companies use 0.2% vanadium, 0.5% manganese ,1% carbon, 1% molybdenum, 1.5% cobalt and 15% chromium.
Its steel structure makes it exceptionally easy to sharpen the blade without taking much time.
Although it is strong, you should avoid these steel knives a trip to the dishwasher. Since it is hard steel, it is less forgiving to the entire dishwashing experience.
This VG-10 is also called V-Gold 10 because of its quality.
This Suminagashi knife is made with VG-10 and Damascus cladding giving it an excellent pattern.
#7 154 CM Steel
This high-quality steel is genuinely one of the best materials to use for your blades. 154CM has a carbon content of 1.05% and stays rigid.
This steel is excellent for people who roughly use their knife; it also holds its edge a little too well.
Many knife enthusiasts love that they do not have to sharpen it as often as they might need.
This 154CM is highly strong than the later mentioned 440C steel.
#8 Blue Paper / SteelAogami
Blue paper is called Aogami in Japanese, giving it its classic name. The title of this knife was coined because of Hitachi; they package their steel in blue paper giving it this iconic name.
This blue paper steel is white paper steel with tiny quantities of wolfram, tungsten, and chrome.
This addition, however, makes it a little less traditional but highly increases the quality of the overall blade.
This Eden Kanso Aogami Blue Paper knife has three 63 HRC and possesses razor sharpness right out of the box.
#9 X50CrMoV15 Stainless Steel
Although the name might sound dangerously exotic, X50CrMoV15 is a relatively common stainless steel that most German manufacturers use as their base blade material.
The blade has good rust resistance and excellent cutting characteristics that are perfect for professional and family use.
Knives made with this blade are ideal for people who do not wish to spend lots of time sharpening and caring for the knife.
The first letter X in the name stands for stainless steel, 50 for 0.50% pure carbon, and the last 15 stands for 15% chrome.
The mixture sometimes also includes vanadium and molybdenum for added durability and grain structure.
#10 1095 High Carbon
This 1095 high carbon is made without the additive of manganese. Its notable proportion gives the blade extreme edge retention while keeping the blade stiffer and robust.
The Rockwell hardness of 1095 high carbon is 56 HRC. This steel is excellent for meat cleavers, a nicely edged and sharped knife made from this material can cut through any frozen meat with ease.
It will very swiftly find its way through bones without adding much pressure on the wrist. Butchers and most chefs are extreme fans of 1095 high carbon blades for their everyday use.
These 1095 meat cleavers are on the expensive side, but the quality of the blade indeed makes it worth the price.
#11 440A and 440C
These 440A and 440C blades appear similar, but 440A has more excellent rust resiliency while 440C is exceptionally strong.
The usual 440 range usually has a Rockwell hardness from 58 to 60 HRC.
Many mid-grade regular kitchen knives use the 440 series to create a simple yet effective knife blade that works satisfactorily in terms of edge retention, toughness, rust resistance, and, most importantly, cost.
We would highly recommend professionals and demanding kitchen staff to avoid using these for their job roles.
If you are a home chef or cook occasionally, this gives you a perfect balance between quality and cost.
#12 S30V Steel
The SXXV series is slowly getting popular in the professional kitchen setting because of its excellent quality.
Their first steel mixture is the S30V that has 3% vanadium in the alloy mixture.
It also has a carbon content of 1.45%, making a good piece for someone who wishes to spend a little less but gets good quality and mainly a hardened knife for the price point.
#13 S60V Steel
This decent quality stainless steel comes as the following alloy in the SXXV series, famous for its high wear resistance.
The blade has 6% vanadium and contains 2.15% carbon as its raw material.
This knife has excellent high wear resistance compared to S30V and works flawlessly if your primary concern is high wear resistance.
#14 S90V Steel
As the name suggests, these contain 9% of vanadium and have far superior edge retention.
It has a carbon content of 2.30% making it ultra-hard and deluxe. Since it is far harder than the rest of the range, it becomes tough to sharpen the blades of this steel.
You will usually find this material in custom-made knives because of its price and luxurious nature.
#15 Damascus Steel
This Damascus steel originated in Syria and was made by hammering several dozen layers of steel, mainly wootz, to create solid and sturdy steel with a distinctive eye-pleasing wavey pattern.
Since the original technique has been lost, many master forgers and knife makers try to imitate the process to create the same result.
The makers usually heat and weld 100 to 200 layers, making the distinguished pattern; the maker then acid etch the blade, which gives you its unique look.
These Damascus steel knives do not perform exceptionally; nonetheless look very attractive to add as a decorative piece to your kitchen or working area.
These ceramic blades are getting extra widespread because of their statement looks.
The edge, however, might look harmless but cut exceptionally well, and it does not require sharpening.
Often chefs complain that the knives react with the acids in the food, which eventually oxidizes the food, but with ceramic, there are no chances of getting your food oxidized.
They come in various fun colors. These ceramic knives are rustproof and do hardly stain.
But because of their composition, they are very brittle. If you purchase a high-quality ceramic knife, it can be a great routine breaker from steel knives.
Using both steel and ceramic knives in the kitchen can ideally save time and give better results.
Types Of Steel
As we dive deep into the world and specifications of steel knives, one should not get confused with the numbers and words of the series.
The numbers and words are all types of steel with different steel configurations. The most and significant types of steel are carbon, alloy steel, stainless, and tool steel.
All the knives fall under this main category before branching down.
Since the word stainless steel is thrown around a lot, it can sometimes be challenging to know the exact proportions of the metal.
But the most straightforward way to identify stainless steel is its shine. Stainless steel usually gleams because of its high level of chromium.
Adding this chromium also makes it highly resistant to corrosion. You will find stainless steel knives with 11% to 17% chromium.
Alloy steel has various elements like chromium, nickel, or manganese, which gets changed in proportion depending on the steel’s use.
You can easily find alloy steel in pipes, auto parts, electronics, and some varieties of kitchen knives.
The famous carbon steel makes up a total of 90% of steel production across the globe. This type of steel is usually used for making kitchen knives.
The durability of carbon steel makes it an impressive material to work with. The low level of carbon in the knife is anywhere from .30% or less.
The medium is from .30% to .60%, and high always ranges from .60% to 1.5%.
This type of steel is specifically used to make tools. The steel is exceptionally robust, rigid, and heat resistant because of various elements like molybdenum, cobalt, vanadium, and tungsten.
What is Steel?
Steel is a type of iron that contains a given carbon content range. A kitchen knife made with steel in this form is known as a carbon steel knife. The different Japanese-style knives, stainless steel blade knives, pocket knives, and VG outdoor knives are created when alloys of steel are introduced into the mix.
Some of the alloys that form the different types of steel used today are Cobalt, Molybdenum, Tungsten, Vanadium, Nickel, and Chromium content, to name a few.
Can I Prevent a Carbon Steel Blade from Rusting?
No, you can’t prevent a carbon steel blade from rusting. Common steel or blade steel starts to rust upon exposure to oxygen. However, you can delay this process. In addition to purchasing more corrosion-resistant steels from the get-go, certain practices can ensure the increased shelf life of your favorite knife or chef knife.
You can increase the levels of corrosion resistance of even dirt cheap, softer steel, affordable knives by washing and drying them thoroughly immediately after using them to cut light or dense foods.
Washing the carbon steel blade effectively removes the residue of acidic foods and drying the knife completely afterward with a clean and high moisture-absorbent cloth reduces the action of oxygen on the blade.
Also, make sure you treat the blade with mineral oil and only keep it in dry locations.
What are the Most Important Features of a Good Steel Kitchen Knife?
High corrosion resistance, edge retention, an extreme hardness level, and toughness are the most important features of a good steel kitchen knife.
As a metal, steel can be especially susceptible to oxidation or rust. This problem can be considerably reduced if these types of knives come with excellent corrosion resistance from the beginning.
With this feature and proper maintenance, super steel can remain in its factory condition for several years.
Excellent Edge Retention
The cutting-edge retention potential of your steel knife is what determines how long you can use this tool before its sharpness becomes dulled from consistent use.
As such, you want steel razor blades with excellent edge retention in your kitchen. This not only ensures that it keeps that brand-new knife sharpness for longer but it’ll also limit the time and effort spent on sharpening the blade.
Levels of Hardness
The hardness of a carbon or stainless steel kitchen knife refers to how well the material can resist stress from applied forces, particularly during heavy-duty tasks. And, because hardness is directly proportional to strength, the hardest steel knives are usually also the strongest.
The toughness of steel also affects the utility and longevity of your knife as well. A tough steel blade is typically more resistant to chips and cracks. You want a knife with a decent toughness because, once your knife chips, it’s as good as gone.
However, the levels of hardness and toughness of your steel blade share a relationship. Generally, the lower the levels of hardness of a steel knife, the higher its toughness levels. So, you’ll have to find a product that strikes the right balance here.
We hope our extensive list of the best steel for kitchen knives helped you in deciding your next big purchase.
While there are innumerable options on the market, we highly recommend looking for the above materials for a flawless kitchen cutting experience.
One must remember that no one should use one knife for cutting different ingredients.
We highly recommend widening your knife collection that embodies various blades of other materials for specific ingredient requirements.