Ceramic vs. Steel Knives

Written by dora diamond
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Ceramic vs. Steel Knives
Ceramic knives have some advantages over stainless steel knives. (knife image by dethchimo from Fotolia.com)

Ceramic knives--available in many brands and price ranges--are increasing in popularity. They cost more than steel knives; however, many people are discovering that ceramic knives are superior to steel knives. You can find many videos on YouTube that demonstrate why consumers prefer ceramic knives over stainless steel knives. However, the choice between ceramic and stainless steel knives depends overall on an individual's personal preference and cooking habits.

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Composition of Ceramic Knives

In the making of ceramic knives, raw material is excavated and ground to a micro-grain powder. The powder forms a pulverised slurry that is pumped into a spray dryer, dried and returned to its powder state. Stage two consists of the moulding procedure. The powder is mechanically pressed with 300 tons of pressure into knife moulds, then stacked and prepared for firing at more than 537 degrees C. This process hardens ceramic knives. Stage three is a "hot isostatic process" in which ceramic knives undergo polishing in carbide wax, smoothing of edges, grinding of edges, and buffing.

Composition of Steel Knives

Stainless steel knives are alloys--that means they are made of two or more metals, such as carbon, iron and chromium--which adds rust resistance for a stainless steel knife. Carbon steel knives are made of iron and carbon. They are known to be harder than stainless steel knives, with a longer lasting blade.

Some stainless steel knives are composed of carbon, chromium, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, silicon and vanadium. Their stainless steel has 16 layers of high-carbon stainless steel on each side to prevent rust.

Advantages of Ceramic Knives

An advantage of some ceramic knife companies is that they offer lifetime free sharpening of knives. Manufacturers of ceramic knives often advertise a "no rust" policy for the lifetime of ceramic knives.

Ceramic knives are nonporous, so they do not transfer scents from one food to another. In addition, ceramic knives are impervious to acids, juices, oils and salts--agents that cause stainless steel knives to rust. Saving time and effort in the kitchen, ceramic knives also produce more consistent, even slices of food than stainless steel knives. In addition, ceramic knives made of zirconium oxide last 10 times longer than stainless steel knives.

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Knives

Stainless steel knives are at a disadvantage to “no rust” ceramic knives because, after a period of time, they eventually rust. Acids, juices and salts are rusting agents, and stainless steel knives lack the protected, material composition of ceramic knives. Another disadvantage of steel knives is that their blades are porous, causing odours to transfer to other foods when cutting.

Other Notable Differences

The blade of a ceramic knife is more prone to break in a dishwasher--as it may bump into plastic components inside a dishwasher--than the blade of a stainless steel knife. Thus, stainless steel knives have an advantage over ceramic knives when washed in a dishwasher. Another disadvantage of a ceramic knife is that its tip easily breaks, if it is a pointed tip. Fewer customers report a broken tip on the blade of a stainless steel knife--which are usually less expensive than ceramic knives.

Commonality

Ceramic knives and stainless steel knives are both useful in the kitchen. They may both be used to cut breads, fruits, vegetables, meats and other foods. In addition, they both come in different sizes and styles.

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