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Knife Know-How: 5 Q&As About Your Kitchen Knives

Knife Know-How: 5 Q&As About Your Kitchen Knives

Kitchen knife knowledge seems pretty simple: try, buy, chop. Because knives are so easy to use, most home chefs don’t find it necessary to study knife skills. When you can open a package and start slicing, you don’t really need to read any instructions, right? Truth is, understanding a few basics can elevate your cooking game. Learning about the care and construction of your kitchen knives will keep them in top condition for years to come.

Here are expert answers for 5 key questions…easy explanations about kitchen knives that’ll help you gain an educated edge:


Q: What is the difference between a carbon-steel and a stainless-steel blade?
Carbon steel is a mix of iron and carbon alloys. Stainless steel has the addition of chromium, which makes it more resistant to rust, corrosion and staining. The term high-carbon stainless steel refers to premium stainless steel with a carbon content above 1%. So, in general, while all knife blades are made of carbon steel, a higher carbon content and the addition of chromium will make them more durable and easier to maintain for home cooks. Chicago Cutlery® knives have you covered.

Q. What’s a taper-grind edge?
A knife blade with a taper-grind edge decreases in size from the handle to the tip and from the spine (top) of the knife to the cutting edge of the blade. This gives a knife blade stability, helping it withstand more cutting action through a greater variety of foods. Chicago Cutlery knives feature this grind to provide precision, durability and long-lasting sharpness.

Q. What’s the best way to sharpen kitchen knives?
This is actually a two-step process. When sharpening a knife blade, the metal is very lightly shaved or ground down to provide a brand-new cutting edge. You can do this yourself using a manual or electric sharpener or a sharpening stone. Another option is to use a professional knife sharpening service. In order to maintain a new edge (either out-of-the-box or freshly sharpened), you’ll want to hone your knife before each use using a honing or “sharpening steel.” This will straighten out a knife’s edge, which can bend with use and warp over time.

TIP: Most CHICAGO CUTLERY® BLOCK SETS come with a honing steel; to learn how to use it, check out "The Science of Maintaining Sharp Knives. "

Q. What’s the best way to clean kitchen knives?
First, rinse your knife immediately after use to avoid buildup of hardened or sticky food particles. (If food does dry on the blade, soak briefly to loosen the particles.) Carefully hand-wash in hot soapy water by folding a dishcloth or sponge over the knife blade. Be sure the tip is pointed away and the sharp edge is facing down. And go slow—this is not the moment to make up for lost time! Thoroughly dry it right away, then place in your knife block. No space for a knife block in your kitchen? No worries—CHICAGO CUTLERY® open stock knives come with reusable plastic sheaths that help protect the blade from damage and your fingers when reaching in the drawer!

Why not use the dishwasher? High heat and abrasive detergent can permanently dull blades and cause wooden handles to dry out, crack and loosen over time. Sharp knives can also do damage to other items in the machine, as well as to the dishwasher itself.

Q. What if the blade has become discolored?
Simple. Soak in lemon juice or vinegar—the natural acids will loosen up rust spots and lighten other discoloration. Another method is to make a paste with baking soda and water, then scrub gently with a nonabrasive cleaning pad. Don’t use steel wool on knives; this can cause scratching and can lead to further rusting or discoloration.

Depending on environment and use, any steel can eventually deteriorate or rust. This is especially true if you live in coastal areas, where salt mixed with humid and damp conditions can damage metals. One way to protect your blade is to coat lightly with food-grade mineral oil after washing and drying.


Chicago Cutlery knives come in styles and sets to fit every kitchen, investment and level of expertise. And every single one comes with a lifetime warranty. Ready to add to your collection or upgrade your tools? Check out some of the brand’s most popular product lines.