Keep It Clean – Carbon Steel Knife Care

Help your Carbon Steel Knife Maintain Peak Performance

Like many products made of premium material (eg. cast iron, leather, wood, silk, etc.), Carbon Steel cutlery is ideal for those who take pride in keeping their tools at peak performance through basic maintenance. While day-to-day it’s as simple as making sure your knife stays clean and dry when it’s not in use, we’ve detailed below what you can do to ensure your knife stays in the best condition possible and serves you well for years to come. 

The best way to keep your knife in good shape is to always hand wash and hand dry your knife – never use a dishwasher or leave it soaking in the sink. This rule really applies to any quality knife in your kitchen, but is essential for knives with high Carbon Steel blades and natural wood handles.

Red rust can develop quickly if a Carbon Steel knife is neglected or misused (like letting it sit in water). Any rust should be removed immediately before pitting can begin, but avoid using harsh scrubbers such as steel wool — these will scratch your blade which will make your blade rust easier. Use your favorite cleanser and a soft clot.

Over time, your Carbon Steel blade will patina. Unlike rust, patina is not a bad thing! Patina is a natural and necessary occurrence when a Carbon Steel blade is used. It can actually be beneficial in reducing the knife’s reactivity and can help keep away rust. Cutting different foods will develop different colors such as black, blue and purple. Most Carbon Steel users enjoy watching how their patina develops. The knife will develop a patina based on the individual users habits, so no two knives will end up looking exactly the same. 

That said, once in a while there can be too much of a patina build up, so it is good to occasionally take some time to remove a few layers of buildup with your mild abrasive and soft cloth. 

Oiling is only needed occasionally or when it will be stored for a long period of time. If you do choose to oil it, we recommend using a Tsubaki (Camelia) oil or food grade mineral oil – avoid any type of vegetable oil which can breakdown and become rancid.

We love the look and feel of a knife with a natural wood handle, but like Carbon Steel, a wood handle does require some minimal maintenance to keep it in tip top shape. STEELPORT knives feature a resin-stabilized wood handle to meet tough kitchen requirements and prevent shrinking or swelling, but it’s still best practice to treat your handle like you would a wooden cutting board. Don’t let it sit in water, and rub it down with a food safe mineral oil or oil/beeswax mix once or twice a month.  

Assuming your knife is kept clean and dry as described above, the key to your knife performing at its highest level is to keep it sharp. That might sound pretty obvious, but we have some tips on how best to do this in Part 2 of this article: Keep it Sharp.