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  1. #1

    Using Carbon Steel Knives

    I was typing this up in an e-mail to a customer and thought it deserved a post here as well... hope you guys find it useful...

    So, have you ever used carbon steel knives before? It takes a little bit of getting used to, but its not so difficult. A lot of what goes into using carbon steel knives is just common sense and learning how to work clean and be well organized. Carbon steel can be reactive when cutting acidic elements. This tends to be the biggest problem for people getting used to working with carbon steel knives. Learning how to deal with this is pretty simple. One very important thing to do is to keep a damp towel folded up in the corner of your cutting board (right corner if you are right-handed or left corner if you are left-handed). This towel will be used to wipe off the sides of your knife from time to time. This helps reduce food/juice buildup on the sides of the blade. When you cut more highly acidic foods, wipe off the sides more often. Also, the moisture from wiping helps to reduce friction while cutting. The damp towel can also be used to wire off your cutting board from time to time. Its also important to keep a clean dry towel nearby as well. I usually keep it near the top of my cutting board. Every time i am done using my knife, i wipe it clean with the damp towel and dry it off with the dry towel. This way i can make sure i am never leaving it wet or dirty.

    If you are planning on storing your blade for some time, you may also want to consider giving it a light coat of tsubaki oil or mineral oil (no food oils... they go rancid... also no oils you wouldnt want to eat... i.e. gun oils, etc.). Carbon steel is also prone to forming a patina (a safe form of oxidation unlike rust, which is a harmful form of oxidation). Some people like patinas and that is fine. Just make sure its a patina and not rust (red/orange are bad colors to see). If you dont like patinas, you can clean your blade with a number of tools... anything from rust erasers (we sell these, but they arent on our website... just ask if you are interested), to non-bleach powdered cleansers, to various metal polish (flitz, adams, etc.). If you do notice some rust, clean it up and be a bit more careful in the future. Thats about it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    great post. the only thing i would add is that one gun oil, ballistol, is edible and safe, and works really well, as it slightly foams out when moisture touches a treated knife, thus propelling the moisture away from the blade.

  3. #3

    Zwiefel's Avatar
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    Good note Jon! I have found carbon to be fairly easy to care for, provided you do a little homework and understand what is needed (Jon covered that).

    Not all carbon is the same though...some is less resistant to rust than others. In my limited experience, stainless clad carbon is the best of both worlds...little more spendy though.
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by EdipisReks View Post
    great post. the only thing i would add is that one gun oil, ballistol, is edible and safe, and works really well, as it slightly foams out when moisture touches a treated knife, thus propelling the moisture away from the blade.
    i know very little about gun oil to be honest, but one day i went to check some out and of the things i saw, there is no way i would want it around my food. But i'm sure there are many types.

  5. #5
    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    ballistol is pretty special.

  6. #6
    daveb's Avatar
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    Thanks for the post Jon. Incorporating a damp towel into the routine is something I'm getting better at - even with stainless.

    ER - I was a bit of a gun nut in a previous life and still hunt in salt water marshes. Displacing water is a good thing so this piqued my curiosity. The Ballistol can is labeled "Harmful or fatal if swallowed". That may mean that 20 gallons of it drowned a lab rat but I'll stay with food safe oil for food. For the guns I may try it.

    Regards,

    Dave
    Dave
    Older and wider.

  7. #7
    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb View Post
    Thanks for the post Jon. Incorporating a damp towel into the routine is something I'm getting better at - even with stainless.

    ER - I was a bit of a gun nut in a previous life and still hunt in salt water marshes. Displacing water is a good thing so this piqued my curiosity. The Ballistol can is labeled "Harmful or fatal if swallowed". That may mean that 20 gallons of it drowned a lab rat but I'll stay with food safe oil for food. For the guns I may try it.

    Regards,

    Dave
    that's how it's labeled in this country, yes, because we're silly. in Europe, not so much. notice that the site quotes the FDA, too.

  8. #8
    Thanks for this post. I've got my first ever carbon steel knife coming in the mail and I want to treat it right!

  9. #9
    Senior Member DwarvenChef's Avatar
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    Great post Jon Working my board that way has kept the Health inspectors off my back about using carbon steel at work

    The FDA isn't all that credible...

  10. #10
    My white #2 Gesshin Ginga Wa-Gyuto is staying super clean, shiny and sharp. ha!


    ... but thanks, Jon, for your advice.

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