People often ask how to remove rust from knives. Fortunately, there is a simple technique to keep your knives rust-free, the first one being prevention.
But, first, understand what rust is and how it can corrode stainless steel kitchen or hunting knives.
Learn prevention methods to maintain your cutlery or hunting knives in good shape. Using simple rust prevention techniques is the best way to avoid rust forming on knife blades.
If you miss the rust prevention step, then you can always use essential household items to remove rust from knives.
However, we hope that you focus on the prevention step so that you won’t need to remove any rust from your cutlery, as this tends to weaken stainless steel blades.
Why Do Knives Rust
Knife blades are susceptible to pit corrosion which attracts rust and damage. Pit corrosion is relatively common in the majority of stainless-steel knives, especially those that contain elevated levels of carbon.
VG10 steel and Twin Cermax knives are typical examples, but corrosion takes place in other stainless-steel compounds as well.
Many stainless-steel knife blades contain about 15% of chrome which helps prevent corrosion when they encounter oxygen.
Chrome is added to steel to create a chrome oxide film on the steel to prevent corrosion. Suppose this chrome oxide film doesn’t form on the steel, any moisture that the knife encounters can cause pit corrosion.
Pit corrosion is a small black mark which is an ideal environment for rust.
Pit corrosion occurs when you damage the knife through a hard knock or from chemicals such as dishwashing liquids or acids from food and detergent reactions.
Other causes of pit corrosions include knife blades rubbing against different types of steel, which negatively affect the chrome-oxide layer.
Consequently, rust develops, and you will probably end up discarding the knife. However, you can learn how to overcome this problem to a degree by finding out how to remove rust from blades.
Learning this skill will help improve the knives’ resistance to corrosion and extend their lifetime.
What is rust?
Rust is a well-known term for iron oxide. Iron oxide is that recognizable reddish, orange-brown flaking that occurs on metal and is the result of iron reacting to oxygen and moisture.
Even if the metal is inside a draw, rust can set in due to the moisture content in the air, which causes the metal to degrade.
Kitchen knives contain chromium which makes them more resistant to corrosion and stains but not wholly invulnerable.
Stainless steel contains chromium, so kitchen knives and other knife blades are so bright and silver-colored that it is difficult to imagine they could lose their shine.
However, the chromium content in the steel is a vital addition to increasing the steel’s longevity, but it is not foolproof.
Stainless steel does stain less than steel without chromium but will eventually degrade with wear and tear if you do not learn how to remove rust from knives effectively.
How To Prevent Knives From Rusting
You will benefit from learning how to remove rust from knives, but before you do, focus on purchasing knives with high chromium content.
High chromium content in knives determines how resistant they will be to rusting. The lower the chromium content is, the more susceptible the stainless steel will be to damage.
When you next consider purchasing stainless steel kitchen knives, check the chromium content. Low chromium content is 10%. A medium content is 15%, and a high content is 20%.
The higher this content is, the more expensive the product will be, but it will also last longer.
Moving on, we look at how to prevent knives from rusting because prevention saves a lot of time and effort down the line.
#1 Cleaning and drying
Always wash your cutlery as soon as possible after use with warm soapy water. Dry the knives off immediately. Only air dry if the temperature is warm enough for the water to evaporate rapidly.
#2 Avoid dishwasher cleaning
Instead, wash your cutlery by hand. Placing knives and forks in the dishwasher increases their exposure to water and humidity, promoting pit corrosion and rusting.
If you place cutlery in the dishwasher, remove it immediately after the cycle is over, dry thoroughly and store in a cool, dry area.
Alternatively, open the dishwasher’s door to allow heat to escape and prevent additional moisture buildup on the cutlery.
#3 Store cutlery in a dry environment
Always ensure that you store knives and other cutlery in a dry area with ventilation. Never store damp items such as cloths and towels near your cutlery.
#4 Maintenance for hunting knives
It is fine to carry a hunting knife in a leather sheathe but never store it in the sheathe as leather attracts moisture buildup. Instead, remove the blade from the sheathe.
Then, clean the blade with a damp, soapy cloth and dry it immediately.
Oil the knife lightly before storing it in a well-ventilated area. It is always best to oil the blade regularly to prevent moisture buildup, especially when not in use.
Never store a dirty knife, as this is another way to attract rust.
Removing Rust From a Knife
If you want to find out how to remove rust from knives, then you’re in the right place. You can use various methods to clean rust off knife blades, and you probably have the solution in your kitchen cupboard.
If you don’t, you might have a proper cleaner in the garage.
Follow these few simple steps for how to remove rust from knives so you can always keep your kitchen cutlery or hunting gear in shape.
Tools and materials
You will need a few simple tools and materials to remove rust from knives. First, check these solutions and decide which one you want to use.
Otherwise, go to the store to stock up on rust removal solutions to maintain your knife blades.
You can use any one of these products when you want to know how to remove rust from knives.
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Soft cloth
- Abrasive sponge
Choose one of the cleaning materials above and follow these steps to clean rust off your knife blades.
WD-40 is a spray that you can purchase from a hardware store. This product is an excellent method to remove rust from knives.
Simply take a clean knife, spray WD-40 on the rust and allow to stand for several minutes. Next, wipe the spray off with a clean cloth.
Finally, wash and dry the knife and store it in a dry area, away from moisture.
#2 Baking soda
Make a paste using baking soda when you need to know how to remove rust from knives. Add two heaped teaspoons of baking soda to a small bowl. Mix in about one teaspoon of water to create a thick paste.
Apply the paste to the rusty knife with your finger. Leave the paste to dry before using a lightly abrasive sponge to remove the paste and rust. Then, use a soft cloth to clean, dry, and store the knife as usual.
Soak the clean cloth in white vinegar before wrapping it around the rusty knife. Allow the vinegar to do its work for at least five minutes.
Or you can lie the blade with the rusty parts immersed in the white vinegar for five minutes. Remove the knife after this time and wipe it down with a soft cloth.
If the soft cloth is not enough to remove the rust, you can use an abrasive sponge to eliminate the rust—clean and dry the knife before storing.
#4 Lemons and salt
Follow the same method to clean the knife as you did with vinegar. Another approach is to simply slice a lemon in half, coat it with some coarse salt and rub the rusty areas on the knife.
The combination of the acidity from the lemon juice and abrasion from the salt will help scrape off any rusty bits or pit corrosion. After removing the rust successfully, wash the knife in warm soapy water.
Then, rinse it in clean water and dry immediately before storing it.
Always use clean cloths and sponges to wipe down or dry knives as small bits of debris on the cloth can transfer to the blade, promoting pit corrosion.
Also, be gentle when wiping off rust so as not to damage the steel further. The amount of rust on the knife should indicate how much pressure to apply during the rust removal process.
How to remove rust from knives is easy when you know how to do this task.
However, once you know what rust is and what causes it, the easier route is to apply simple maintenance techniques so that you don’t need to remove rust.
But if your knives have already developed rust, you can follow the easy techniques outlined above to restore their condition.
After cleaning the rust off your knives, ensure you apply the simple maintenance steps to keep your cutlery rust-free.
If you use a hunting knife, always give it light oiling to keep it in good shape after use and after cleaning the blade.