A knife's a knife, isn't it? Technically, yes—but realistically, no. Whether it's a survival knife or a blade for your protection, they may share some basic similarities at first glance. But what makes them different is the materials each knife is made from. The most common materials used in knives are typically carbon steel, stainless steel, tool steel, and alloy steel. You'll also find that thanks to technology, a few unusual materials such as ceramic and fiberglass are being used to create knives for unique situations and uses.
But do you know the care and maintenance for different knife materials to ensure effective, long-lasting use?Steel –
Probably the most common material for any style or purpose knife, steel knives have one common enemy: water. For any steel knife, avoid long-term storage in its sheath. While sheathes are essential for carrying a knife, they are not the best option for long-term storage. With few rare exceptions, your knife sheath most likely won't allow the metal to breathe while also keeping any condensed moisture accumulating inside of it. This leads to rusting and pitting. Keep it near the sheath, but not in it, in a stable, dry environment when storing your steel knife.
- Carbon Steel - This steel has low to little corrosion resistance, and if not cared for, can rust quickly. To protect your carbon steel blade, we recommend a silicone-based coating as it's most durable. Clean your carbon steel with a gentle detergent always, rinse in clean water, and dry before applying any protective coating.
- Stainless Steel - One of the most corrosion-resistant metals but will still require a bit of care. While this material can temporarily handle saltwater and use in lightly corrosive environments, you'll want to clean them immediately after use or contact.
- Ceramic blades are optimal for cutting fruit, vegetables, meat, fabric, and ropes—but use them on items like bone or frozen foods or hardwoods, and you may cause your blade to chip. One of the most essential tips for caring for and maintaining a ceramic survival knife is to use it properly.
- Also, avoid prying, twisting, bending, flexing, or applying force to the tip and edge of your ceramic blade if possible. While ceramic is harder than many metals, resulting in longer edge retention, ceramic knives are not flexible. Ceramics are typically designed to handle stress in a specific direction, and the sort of lateral stress you'd put on a blade prying something open would likely break a pure ceramic blade.
When it comes to fiberglass, plastic, grivory, carbon fiber, G10, Zytel, and other nonmetal materials, most of these knives are made for last-ditch self-defense. Due to the wide variety of materials and their specific combination in any particular knife, the manufacturer's instructions should be followed to care for and maintain these blades.With your knives' proper care and maintenance, you will see years of durable, reliable use.