If you are not sure what to buy, this guide details the pros and cons of each knife type so that you can choose the best tool for your kitchen.
Ceramic Knife Blades
Over the last decade a new knife blade materials. One of the most embraced materials are ceramics. However, potentiual buyers often question if a ceramic knife blade is as strong and reliable as steel blades.
You might think ceramic has something to do with clay, but ceramic knives are made from oxidized Zirconia. This agent is dry-pressed and fired into a fine powder before being forged into a sharp ceramic knife. What is not well known is that ceramic knives are tougher than average steel blades.
Ceramic Blades are Tougher Than Steel Knives
Putting the core strength in figures, when fully forged a ceramic blade has a toughness rate of 8.5. This is similiar to the core strength of a diamond with rating of 10. An average steel blade comes in at a lower with a rate range of 4 to 6, depending on the steel type. Thus, a ceramic blade is stronger and tougher than most steel knives.
When you pick up a broken ceramic plate or utensil, you can pierce simple fruit and vegetables with it, talkless of owning a specially designed ceramic knife with an average core strength of 8.5. A ceramic knife blade will easily cut through boneless meat, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and every other regular kitchen ingredient and food. It will deliver such precision cutting that it is not easy to realize you are not using a traditional steel knife.
These ceramic blades come in different types of knives. Thus, you can get them as a paring knife, a cleaver, a Santoku, a chef’s knife, and so many other types of knives. However, like every other form of ceramic, a ceramic blade is brittle and breakable. This means it can break when you drop it, and it can chip when used on harder materials.
A ceramic knife is not ideal for use when deboning meat or cutting through bones. You cannot also use it to cut through frozen food as this can chip the edge and might even crack the knife. While manufacturers can strengthen their ceramic blades further, ceramic will still be ceramic to withstand a certain level of force and pressure.
Steel Knife Blades
Steel is the most popular material used in making knife blades. There are various types of steel with varying core strength and advantages. These varieties include carbon steel, sharp edge steel, stainless steel, and high-speed steel.
Steel blades are popular because its not brittle and has an extreme level of versatility.
Steel Blades Have Better Edge Retention
Because of their denseness and strength, steel blades are always resistant to wear and come with excellent edge retention. This is why a steel blade goes with all types of knives, even the regular kitchen knife.
With a steel blade, depending on the type of knife the blade is crafted into, you can cut through bones, frozen food, fruits, vegetables, and all manners of food without the fear of your blade chipping or the knife breaking.
Unlike the ceramic blade, and depending on storage and environment, a steel blade is more susceptible to rust which is one of the trade-offs for this material. On a good note, steel knives are easier to sharpen than ceramic knives that require a sharpener with diamond abrasives to get the edges well-sharpened.
Ceramic Knife Blade vs Steel Features (Face to Face)
|Length||All lengths||All lengths|
|Edge||Flat, straight, or Granton||Flat, straight, and Granton|
|Construction||Hand-forged or dry-pressed||Hand-forged or stamp|
|Blade material||Ceramic (Zirconia)||High-carbon, stainless steel, Damascus steel, etc.|
Standout Features Between Ceramic Knife Blade vs Steel
It takes a deep understanding to know which, between ceramic knife blade vs steel, best suits your everyday kitchen or general food preparation needs. We have drawn out their standout features to help you decide.
It is easy to mistake the toughness of a ceramic knife blade to mean very hard and unbreakable. Ceramic blades are not unbreakable as they can break up when they are hit against equally strong materials because of their brittleness. However, steel blades are pretty indestructible.
Both ceramic blades and steel blades can deliver the same level of sharpness and precision cutting. The source of concern is edge retention and how to sharpen the edges. Sharpening a ceramic knife is quite tricky and needs a special sharpener with diamond abrasives to get the edge in shape. Meanwhile, a regular sharpening stone is good enough to do the trick on steel blades. But overall, a ceramic blade is 10x sharper than steel.
In terms of versatility, a steel knife is more versatile in cutting through most kitchen stuff than a ceramic blade. Ceramic blades are only great with soft stuff, and as such, they do not come in certain types of knives.
Ceramic vs. Steel Knife: Their Pros and Cons
Ceramic and Steel Knives can both do a lot of the same things, like slicing up a roast or a loaf of bread. But they differ in a lot of ways too. Here’s a quick summary of the contrasting benefits of the two knives.
Pros and Cons of Steel Knives
- Are very affordable
- Extremely sharp and highly versatile blades
- Are easy to sharpen
- Hold an edge well
- Blades are prone to rust and corrosion
- Need to be sharpened regularly to keep the edges sharp
Pros and Cons of Ceramic Knives
- Nonreactive with certain foods, especially the acidic ones
- Have excellently lightweight and sharp blades
- Don’t need sharpening
- Are very easy to clean
- Very easy to damage or break
- Aren’t meant to cut hard food
Ceramic Blade vs. Steel Blade: The Face Off
A ceramic knife has an extremely sharp blade compared to a steel knife. It can retain its sharpness for up to 10 times longer than a steel knife with equal quality. It doesn’t even need sharpening and is very easy to clean.
Steel knives often react with certain foods especially the ones having high acidity. For instance, if I cut an apple or a potato using a steel knife, the sliced apple will oxidize and turn brown faster than using a ceramic knife. This is because a steel knife transfers its ions on whatever it cuts, leading to faster oxidation in both the food and the steel blade itself. On the other hand, a ceramic knife usually has no ion composition similar to metals, also making it immune to rusting and corrosion.
The ceramic blade is harder than steel, and the only thing that is harder than the ceramic is diamond. This is also one reason the regular knife sharpeners cannot sharpen ceramics since they’re not as hard as ceramics. Only a diamond sharpener can cut it, which is rare to find. And because a ceramic blade is more rigid, it keeps its edge 10x longer than its steel counterpart.
A ceramic blade is extremely lightweight. This is one of the significant benefits of using a ceramic knife. It’s a comfortable knife to hold as it may weigh half as much as the steel knife.
Care and Maintenance
Steel knives, as you may know, they are pretty much indestructible. You may throw it all you want and drop them, but they’re rarely going to break. Ceramic knives, on the other hand, although their blades are hard, are incredibly fragile and are prone to breaking. You can think of these blades as ceramic mugs. Drop them, and they’re dead. For the same reason, a ceramic knife isn’t the best blade for meat or other hard food.
Where Can You Use Ceramic And Steel Knives?
Although a ceramic knife is top-rated for its extremely sharp and hard edges, it can only do so much because of its brittle and fragile composition. It’s not designated to cut hard food like meat and bones. However, it could also work best on fruits and vegetables.
On the other side, the steel knife, although it needs regular sharpening to retain its sharp edge, it is also a very versatile blade that could cut anything. What the ceramic knife could and couldn’t cut, the steel knife can.
Ceramic Knife or Steel Knife: What knife is best to use?
The short answer is: it depends on what purpose you want the knife for. Both knives have distinct contrasting benefits. As a rule of thumb, though, you should always consider having a set of steel knives first, as these blades are incredibly versatile for any slicing jobs. But if you’re mainly into slicing thin cuts of meat, vegetables, fruits, and even bread, then you should consider a ceramic knife as an excellent addition to your kitchen arsenal.
Sometimes, traditional design wins, and this is the classic case in ceramic knife blade vs. steel. Both knives are excellent, delivering precision cutting, comes in great designs and knife types.
In terms of price, they are both affordable, and when you are looking at doing just the basic cutting of simple food in your kitchen, both are great options to consider. Away from that, if you’re looking for trusted hardness and strength to help you through even the most demanding cutting tasks in the kitchen, a great steel blade seems to be the best option.