Knife Materials

The metal that a knife blade is made of is an important consideration, as the metal must be able to take and hold a very fine edge.

1. Carbon steel was for many years the traditional favorite because it can be honed to an extremely sharp edge. Its disadvantages are that it corrodes and discolors easily, especially when used with acid foods and onions. Also, it discolors some foods (such as hard-cooked eggs) and may leave a metallic taste. Because of these disadvantages, it has given way to high-carbon stainless steel (described in item 3 be-low),which is now the preferred material for the best knives.

2. Traditional stainless-steel alloys will not rust or corrode, but they are much harder to sharpen than carbon steel. Stainless steel is used mostly for low-cost, lightweight knives.

3. High-carbon stainless steel is a relatively new alloy that combines the best aspects of carbon steel and stainless steel. It takes an edge almost as well as carbon steel, and it will not rust, corrode, or discolor. Knives made of this material are highly prized and relatively expensive.

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