Knives have been around since the ancient time. In fact, knives were among the very first tools that the prehistoric people invented. Knives were needed for hunting and cutting vegetables. In today’s world, not many have changed regarding the functionality of knives. We still need them in our kitchen for cutting and preparing foods. However, today’s knives are made using modern technologies and new materials.
Thus, with so many options available, it is not strange that many home cooks often get confused when looking for a new knife. Based on the materials used, we can classify kitchen knives into ceramic knives and steel knives. Of course, unlike ceramic flowerpots, the ceramic that is used for knives is incredibly hard and can be honed to make a fine, sharp edge. Steel knives, on the other hand, are much more common and familiar. So, what are the differences between ceramic knives and steel knives? Which one is better? Let’s see the comparisons between ceramic knives and steel knives below!
Ceramic Knives vs. Steel Knives: Price
Many people say that ceramic knives are more expensive than steel knives. There is some truth in the statement, but not in the way you probably think. Of course, ceramic knives are expensive – they are generally considered as high-end knives. However, they are not exactly more expensive than other high-end steel knives. You can say that the prices of ceramic knives are comparable to high-end steel knives.
On the other side of the spectrum, however, ceramic knives don’t have any low-end model. All ceramic knives are expensive, and this is partially because of the difficult processing. It is a difficult and lengthy process to make ceramic into sharp knives. The lack of low-end models is the reason why ceramic knives become notoriously expensive. On the other hand, there are many low-end steel knives available, which can be your choice if your budget is very limited.
Ceramic Knives vs. Steel Knives: Hardness and Brittleness
Ceramic knives are very, very hard. They are even harder than steel knives. As a note: bone has a hardness level of about 3.5, steel knives are about 6.5, ceramic knives are around 9.5, and diamonds are 10. With such hardness, ceramic knives can be very, very sharp. The fine, thin edge can slice effortlessly through fruits and vegetables. Once sharpened, a ceramic knife will keep its razor-sharp edge for a very long time. If you ever need to sharpen your knife, however, you will need a professional service. Fortunately, most manufacturers provide sharpening for free. Steel knives, on the other hand, may require more of your effort to cut and slice things down, and require much more frequent sharpening. You can sharpen steel knives by yourself.
However, being hard and sharp does not mean that a ceramic knife is unbreakable. In fact, it is almost the contrary; ceramic knives are not meant for cutting hard objects, such as frozen foods, bones, and literally anything that can’t be easily sliced. This is because the sharp edge is so thin that a hard object can put some chips on the tip. A ceramic knife can be dropped tip-down without shattering, but the tip will most probably be chipped. On the other hand, steel knives would probably bend if dropped tip-down, and thus would require professional re-alignment, but they won’t be easily chipped.
Ceramic Knives vs. Steel Knives: Rust Issues
Still, even though ceramic knives are prone to getting chipped if used inappropriately, they have a distinctive advantage over steel knives. Ceramic knives will never develop rust.
Indeed, stainless steel knives are designed to resist rust. But they may still develop rust in small specks if used inappropriately. Why? The key element that makes a stainless steel knife rust resistant is chromium, which forms a thin protective layer of chrome oxide to prevent the steel from getting exposed to air and moisture. When the layer is damaged, a new layer can be formed by the chromium content. However, the problem arises when the layer is damaged and the knife gets into contact with water or moisture before a new layer is formed. A small damage to the chrome oxide layer and a water drop is all it takes to make rust spots on a stainless steel knife. The chrome oxide layer can be damaged by collisions, dish detergents, food acids, or other types of steel.
Ceramic Knives vs. Steel Knives: Functionality and Performance
Ceramic knives are not versatile. They are no all-purpose knives. However, they excel in their intended purpose, which is slicing! Ceramic knives are ideal for slicing fruits and vegetables. They can slice through effortlessly. In addition, ceramic knives are so lightweight that you can use them to rip through all the cutting like a pro without straining your arms and shoulders. Also, ceramic knives are very dense and have very little pores so that less dirt and grime can get into the pores. A quick rinse in warm water can get your ceramic knife clean, whereas a steel knife may require some thorough scrubbing.
Steel knives should be your choice for more demanding tasks, such as chopping meats and bones. They will not chip if used for cutting frozen foods. Thus, steel knives are more suitable for all-purpose knives. However, steel knives can be quite heavy, and they have larger pores. Cleaning a steel knife can be a little bit more difficult due to the larger pores collecting more dust and grime.
Ceramic knives are incredibly sharp, but they are somewhat brittle. Therefore, ceramic knives are not all-purpose knives, and should never be used on hard objects such as frozen foods, meats, and bones. However, ceramic knives do one specific job excellently, which is slicing fruits and vegetables. Ceramic knives can slice through effortlessly, are lightweight, and very easy to clean. They will never develop rust. On the other hand, steel knives are more versatile, but are heavy and may still develop rust. Unlike ceramic knives, there are low-end steel knives available, which can be your choice if your budget is very limited.