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Why Consider a Ceramic Kitchen Knife?
Ceramic knives are a fantastic cutting option for those who do a lot of chopping and dicing in the kitchen and don’t want to fuss with the sharpening requirements of metal blades. There are many ceramic brands available to chefs, and a high-quality ceramic knife will cost less than a similar knife made from fully forged stainless steel.
As ceramic knives are not useful for cutting bones or frozen items (due to the brittleness of the blade), they are not a replacement for metal kitchen knives in most homes. They serve as a great complement to high carbon steel knives, however, as they are fantastic for dicing fruits and vegetables and require little maintenance.
The Benefits of Ceramic Kitchen Knives
- These knives are very lightweight, which makes them easy to handle.
- The blades are also extremely thin, which allows for very thin slices of fruits and vegetables.
- These knives stay sharp for a very long period of time. The sharpness of the edge will last ten times longer than a similar steel blade.
- Ceramic knives will not transfer ions from the blade surface; steel knives leave ions (which can result in faster oxidation of some sliced fruits).
- The blades are non-porous, preventing bacterial growth.
- The knives will not stain.
Negatives of Ceramic Blades
- Ceramic is a brittle material, and it may break if the knife is twisted or flexed. Likewise, the blade may break if the knife is dropped. The knife may get chipped in the dishwasher or when stored in a drawer.
- These knives are more difficult to sharpen than a steel knife (even though the edge lasts much, much longer than metal knives).
- Ceramic blades are also not “all-purpose” kitchen knives. They are not useful for cutting through meat with bones, so choose a stainless steel knife for cutting up whole chickens. Do not use this type of knife for cutting through frozen food, as the blade may chip or break.
|Brand Name||Location (Headquarters)||Details|
Company formed in Kyoto, Japan in 1959
Makers of the original Swiss Army Knife
Started producing knives in 1984
My favorite set of knives is a set of Kyocera knives. The ability to easily slice through tomatoes to make pico de gallo is a huge time-saver in my kitchen. My first set of knives did not have a storage block, and I accidentally chipped one blade when it was in the drawer. A storage block is highly recommended for protecting the blade edges and to prevent any chipping or breaking.
Ceramic Knife Care and Maintenance
When using a ceramic knife, always cut straight up and down, as these knives cannot be twisted or flexed. Never use this type of knife to pry or to crush food items, as the knife is liable to break.
How to Store Ceramic Knives
These knives should be stored in their original protective case or in a specially designed knife block, to prevent nicks in the blade. (See more about knife blocks below.)
How to Clean the Blade
For the same reason, these knives should always be washed by hand and never placed in the dishwasher. The high water pressure in the dishwasher jets will cause the knives to clash against other dishes and utensils. The knife blade may chip, break, or even cause damage to the other dishes it comes in contact with.
Most ceramic knives actually have thin strips of metal that comprise the edge of the blade. This metal assists in keeping the knife sharp, but high temperatures will cause the metal to warp and deform. The high heat of a dishwasher's hot water cycle or drying cycle will result in a dull blade due to this deformation.
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How to Sharpen a Ceramic Blade
While ceramic blades stay sharp for up to ten times longer than a steel blade, they will eventually require sharpening. Unfortunately, this is difficult to perform at home and is nearly always done by the knife manufacturer. Be sure to purchase knives from a dealer that will allow knives to be sent in for sharpening when needed.
How Are Ceramic Knives Made?
The ceramic used in these blades is not the same as the material used in your “ceramic” coffee mug. This material is called “advanced ceramic” and is harder than high carbon steel, carbide, and titanium. In fact, only diamonds are harder. The reason ceramic knives are difficult to sharpen at home is because diamonds are required to sharpen the blades!
The ceramic is made from zirconium oxide, and yttrium oxide is added during the cooling process to create a stable zirconia—this material is known as Transformation Toughened Zirconia, or TTZ. The blades are sharpened on a grinding wheel coated with diamond dust.
Ceramic Knife Blocks
Due to the brittleness of the blade, ceramic knives should be stored in a knife block or other protective case. Some knives come with a protective sleeve, and this should always be placed on the knife when it is not in use. One option is to store the knives in a plastic, wooden, or bamboo block.
There are several options available, including versatile designs that sit on the counter, hang on the wall, or fit inside a kitchen drawer. Knife blocks are the easiest way to store the knives, allowing easy access and preventing damaging nicks or breaks.
Kitchen Knife Poll
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: My ceramic knife got chipped and a fragment got cooked in the dish. Is the dish now toxic?
Answer: I would discard the knife now that it is chipped. Your dish will not be "toxic" due to the ceramic fragment being baked in the dish, though I would be certain to clean the dish thoroughly and ensure there are no remaining blade fragments.
Question: My blade has a chip out, is it still safe to use?
Answer: I would not use a chipped ceramic blade. This is definitely the biggest con of ceramic knives, as they are prone to breaking and chipping easily. I would discard the knife.
Question: Will ceramic knives scratch or damage aluminum pans?
Answer: Ceramic is a harder material than aluminum, so it is possible for the ceramic to scratch your pans. It would not be wise to use the ceramic knife on your pan surface. A good recommendation would be to cut the food items before placing them into the pan.
© 2012 Leah Lefler