How do I care for a carbon steel knife?

  • How do I care for a carbon steel knife? BobMcGee

    I recently purchased a Dexter-Russell carbon steel Chinese cleaver, because they're supposed to be amazingly useful.

    I'm used to caring for good stainless steel knives, but don't know what special things I should do for carbon steel. So far, I always wash and dry it immediately after use, and do normal honing/sharpening.

    The problem is that after a week or two of use, it is developing spots of rust, deepening to slight pitting. The rust appears as an orange sheen, and does not disappear readily with scrubbing.

    Is this slight rusting normal with use, and will it turn into the patina I've seen on other people's carbon steel cutlery? What else does one need to do to care for a carbon steel? I've heard something about oiling and am not sure how that works...

    Picture of of edge below, to demonstrate:

    Closeup of knife

  • For my carbon steel knives (including my cleaver), I make very sure to wash & completely dry them after use. When I've used it on something acidic, this is especially true. I've never had a problem unless I've forgotten, or haven't completely dried it. When rust does happen in those cases, it's the only time my knife sees the scruby side of the sponge, I use to wash dishes. It comes off easily with that.

  • Carbon steel knives, especially those with wooden handles have to be dried using heat. It is also best to store them in a warm place too

    Moisture will get into the tang/handle join, and will rust the metal away if not forcibly dried using heat. So after cleaning, dry the knife in a previously heated oven (<70°C), or warmed storage area (hot water cupboard in English culture)

    Over time the knife surface will slowly pit and colour, this is hard to avoid. This should not effect normal operation of the knife for many years

    Do NOT oil and heat like a cast iron pan, as this will ruin any hardness in the edge

equipment knives carbon-steel
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