Every knife owner knows that the blade is what makes or breaks a knife. Before buying any type of knife, you should always know what material the blade is constructed of, as each type has its own advantages and drawbacks. Though each category often has numerous grades and variations, it's important to have a general knowledge about the blade materials. Below is a short breakdown of the most common types of knife blade materials.
Stainless Steel Blades
The stainless steel blade is one of the most popular for knives because of its durability and resistance to corrosion. Stainless steel is a metal alloy generally made out of at least 11% chromium, iron, nickel, molybdenum and carbon. However, there are many different grades and compositions of stainless steel that vary with the properties used to make the material. While these blades are favored because of their resistance to rust, they do stain in certain environments and are not usually as sharp as other materials, like carbon or ceramic. The knives that commonly use stainless steel blades include kitchen cutlery, diving knives and pocket knives.
Carbon Steel Blades
Before the popularity of stainless steel, carbon steel was used for most blades. Carbon steel blades are among the sharpest blades available and are much easier to sharpen than stainless steel blades. The lack of chromium in the blades means that it is highly susceptible to rust and corrosion and requires careful cleaning after each use. Carbon steel also gets discolored easily, which is why it is rarely used for high-quality kitchen knives. However, its overall durability and sharpness make it a popular blade material for survival knives, hunting knives and pocket knives.
Titanium is a very strong material that's rust-resistant and easy to tell apart from other blade types because of its dark, silver coloring. Titanium blades tend to be softer and not as sharp as other types, so they're sometimes coated with other material. The non-magnetic and durable properties of titanium makes these blades popular with diving knives, pocket knives and even bomb-defusing knives.
Ceramic blades are less common than the previous knife types and are mostly found in kitchen cutlery and pocket knives. The advantage of ceramic, which is a non-metallic solid, is its complete resistance to corrosion, extremely hard blade and ability to maintain sharpness for long time periods. Ceramic is very brittle and vulnerable to cracks if it's dropped, and these blades can only be sharpened with specific tools.
Less common than ceramic, plastic blades are used mainly as disposable knives. Its difficulty to sharpen the edges of the blade requires most plastic blades to be serrated. An example of a plastic blade is a disposable plastic knife.
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