How long should a kitchen knife last?


Ever wondered how long a chef knife lasts? Maybe you recently bought a brand new kitchen knife and are in love with it. Or you have an all-time favorite knife and wish to keep for as long as possible? But you wonder, how long will you be able to use this knife?

How long your kitchen knife should last depends on how you handle it and how often you use it. By not abusing it and using the right cutting board, your knife should last you a lifetime. Propper maintenance and regularly honing will not only keep its sharpness but also extend its lifespan for a very long time.

How do I make sure my chef knife lasts me for a long time? This was the question I asked myself many years ago. I understood that maintenance was vital to this. But going further, I found out that it was not the only one.

Maintain and storing correctly.

In the beginning, I was a complete novice, and so I had to search and to ask professionals. The more I searched for answers, the more I understood that maintenance was playing a pivotal role in extending the lifespan of any blade. Searching further, I also found out that avoiding damage was an equally important factor. Once I had found these two, I had the feeling I had found the secret elixir for eternal life.

Honing regularly and sharpening less

Honing is putting back the edge to its place, and sharpening is to remove metal to sharpen its edge. Honing regularly and sharpening the correct way only when it’s needed is what you should always aim for, the more your sharpen the shorter the life span of your knife will have because you removed too much metal. What does regularly honing mean? You should do it after every 2 to 3 use. Also, make sure to clean right after having honed it.

Cleaning the right way

Let me first start by saying to never ever put your knives in a dishwasher. You could really damage your knives by doing so.

Cleaning the right way is something most people don’t know about. We must keep in mind that there are different cleaning techniques for different types of steel blades. A stainless steel knife should not be cleaned the same way as a carbon steel knife. Improperly cleaning your knife blade will result in premature oxidation.

Washing stainless steel blade with hot water and dish soap or any other mild soap is ok. But be careful not to use harsh dish soap and also make sure not to leave your kitchen knife to air dry. After rinsing your knife with water, dry it with a cotton rag and store it.

Carbon steel knives, on the other hand, lack the elements that protect the blade from corrosion and thus need more maintenance. Does this mean that they are less suitable than stainless steel blades? No, it only means they need a little more love. Carbon steel blades are actually very common in the world of cuisine.

One of the best ways to clean carbon steel knives and avoiding damaging them is to make sure you wipe them after each use, but it must be done with a clean cloth, and also without passing under running water. Cleaning a carbon steel knife with water is possible, but make sure to take certain precautions to reduce the manifestation of rust and other signs that may develop over time. I have gathered some tips for maintaining a carbon steel kitchen knife:

  • Do not ever let it soak in water. Soaking damages the higher carbon steels (including high carbon stainless), causing the steel to rust.
  • It would be best if you did not use soap of any kind  
  • Once cleaned with a damp sponge always dry the blade immediately with a clean and dry cloth
  • Never leave it to air dry
  • Storing in a dust-free drawer or knife block is recommended.

Storing 

Storing is as vital as honing and sharpening. I have seen countless times people storing their knives in a loos bin, and doing that can cause a lot of damage to your blade. My personal favorite is a magnetic strip (link to Amazon), but you can store them in many ways. The one thing you must always keep in mind is, make sure your knives do not move around and are not in contact with other knives. Here are the most common:

  • Magnetic Wall Strips
  • Knife Blocks
  • magnetic knife block
  • Under the Cabinet
  • Drawer Docks

Each of them has its merits, choose one that suits you best depending on your situation.

Not all knives are made equal. 

Materials used and the construction of a knife play an important role. Buying a quality knife is, of course, always better. This does not mean you need to spend 500$ on one, but you cannot expect buying a 20USD knife (link to Amazon) to have the same longevity and quality of a superior blade. A knife with the price tag between 100$150$ (link to Amazon)should be good enough.

When you need to relocate your knives from one location to another to have the correct type of bag (link to Amazon) is essential. You see, knives get damaged when they hit each other the same way when they are loose in a drawer, the same rule applies when they are in a bag. So again, as mentioned many times, avoiding damage is very important.

No damage means no maintenance needed.

Just think like this, any damage to your blade means that it needs to be sharpened. The more you sharpen, the more metal it will lose. The more metal lost, the shorter the lifespan. If you do not know how to sharpen correctly, you may lose more than you should. Check how to sharpen your knife the best way possible, or believe me, you will regret it in the long run.

The bottom line, if you follow the main guidelines on how to avoid damaging your blade and do regular maintenance you will be able to use your knife for a very long time.

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