Ceramic Knife Pros And Cons, Are They Worth It?
Ceramic knives are very popular for many reasons such as their ability to stay sharp for a long time, ease of cleaning, being non reactive with acids, and impervious to rust. But what are the ceramic knife pros and cons, are they worth it?
Ceramic knives have their own disadvantages as well like; being easier to chip or break, they are very hard to sharpen, and they are not effective for hard cutting or chopping tasks for harder materials.
Ceramic Knife Pros
- Extremely hard blade material
- Stays sharp for a long time
- Does not rust or easily stain
- Can be extremely sharp
- Very lightweight
- Non porous and does not retain odors
- Resistant to acidic foods
Ceramic Knife Cons
- Brittle bade material
- Susceptible to chipping or breaking
- Unsuitable for prying or twisting tasks
- Very difficult to resharpen
- Usually do not come in larger sizes
- Not flexible for use as a filet knife
What Are The Advantages Of Using A Ceramic Knife?
Ceramic knives are a newer type of knife blade material that has become more popular since they first came on the market. They have many benefits over a traditional steel knife.
One of the main characteristics usually touted by ceramic knife sellers is that they have a razor sharp edge and they never need to be sharpened. While this is a great sales pitch, it is not the complete truth.
While it is true that ceramic knives can be very sharp, their cutting edge does become dull over time and will eventually need to be sharpened or the knife replaced. Due to their extreme blade hardness, some people choose to throw out their dull ceramic knife and replace it with a new one.
With that said, the main advantage of using a ceramic knife is that it will hold an edge for a long time under normal use. The advanced ceramic materials used in ceramic knives today are extremely hard and stay sharp for a long time. this makes them a good option for everyday use as kitchen knives.
For many normal household kitchen users, this fact alone is enough to make owning a ceramic kitchen knife worth it. If you are not used to regular knife maintenance and have the proper tools and skills to keep your kitchen knives very sharp then having a ceramic knife that stays sharp for a long time without any maintenance can be a big benefit.
Some of the other advantages of ceramic knives is that they are non porous and non reactive. This means that they are not harmed by acidic foods and they are not susceptible to rusting. They also do not hold smells and bacterial as easy as steel knives.
If you are concerned with the cleanliness of your kitchen tools and worry about transferring scents from one type of food to another then a ceramic knife might be just what you are looking for.
Ceramic knives are also very lightweight. Many people like their light feel when using it for a lot of chopping and cutting.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A Ceramic Knife?
While it is true that the extreme hardness of ceramic knives can keep them sharp for a long time, it is this exact trait that creates some of the main disadvantages of ceramic knives. Being made of such a hard material leads ceramic knives to be quite brittle and susceptible to chipping or breaking.
This brittleness makes them unsuitable for certain kitchen tasks such as cutting meat with bones, splitting frozen materials, and cutting very hard foods like squash and even some hard cheeses.
Just about every ceramic knife that i have seen and handled has had some amount of edge chipping. Some of these chips were quite small and almost needed magnification to see, however, many of them were much larger and very easy to see with the naked eye.
This leads me to ask the question; Where did the chipped pieces end up? I am a rough and gruff construction working outdoorsman type of guy, but the thought of a piece of superhard, extremely sharp ceramic edge being eaten by my three year old daughter is not something i like to think about.
The same hardness that makes them stay sharp for a long time and leads to the being fairly brittle also makes them susceptible to breaking if they are ever dropped or used too roughly. It is important that you do not use your ceramic knives to pry or twist which could cause them to break. As well, you should not use them to cut frozen food or foods that might have bones in them.
The last main disadvantage to having a ceramic knife is that they are extremely hard to sharpen. They cannot be sharpened using standard knife sharpening tools and materials. And, while they do stay sharp for a long time, they do eventually lose their edge and need to either be resharpened or replaced.
Standard sharpening steels and stones are not hard enough to abrade the ceramic materials these blade are made out of. The only practical way to sharpen ceramic knives is with diamond sharpening stones and tools.
Many diamond sharpening stones are now available at many of the same places you would buy knives but some work better than others and most of them will never get your edge back to like new factory condition. It is also more difficult to sharpen ceramic blades with diamond tools due to their brittleness and specific techniques needed to overcome this.
We will explain in more detail below, however, if you want to learn in much greater details how to sharpen ceramic knives then click here to check out our full ceramic knife sharpening guide.
What Are Ceramic Knives?
Ceramic Knives are not made form the same materials as you coffee mugs or dinner plates. They are made from Zirconium Dioxide which start out as powdered Zirconia. This Zirconia is dry pressed and fired with small amounts of additives.
This manufacturing process creates an extremely hard blade materials that often measures around 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Comparatively, this hardness roughly equates to a Rockwell hardness between 80 and 90, Much harder than any knife steels.
As mentioned in the ceramic knife pros and cons, this extreme hardness leads this ceramic material to be extremely brittle. Although some of the higher end ceramic knife manufacturers have been developing some tougher ceramic materials they still cannot compare with the toughness of a steel knife.
How Do You Take Care Of Ceramic Knives?
Ceramic knives are generally quite easy to take care of although there are some precautions to be aware of. Due to their brittle nature, the main thing to keep in mind when caring for your ceramic knife is to protect it from impact.
Ceramic knives should be stored in a dedicated knife block to avoid chips. Many people keep their normal steel knives in a knife drawer. However, this can lead to your ceramic knives impacting other knives in the drawer and chipping the cutting edge.
Ceramic knives should also no be put into the dishwasher or thrown into a sink. Although many brands say their knives are dishwasher safe, unless extreme care is taken when arranging your dishwasher your knife could be chipped due to the vigorous washing nature and impacting with other items during the wash cycle.
The best way to keep your ceramic knife clean and protected is to give it a wipe with a clean cloth and light soapy water after each use. After a quick rinse, it can then be dried and replaced into it knife block for future use.
Care should also be taken when choosing the type of cutting board to use with your ceramic knife. Make sure you never cut on a hard surface such as stone, quartz, tile, metal, or glass. Any of these surfaces can quickly damage you cutting edge. We recommend using a natural wood block, bamboo, or thick plastic for your cutting surface.
How To Sharpen A Ceramic Knife.
Ceramic knives are notoriously hard to sharpen and can be a large drawback to anyone looking to purchase one. While sharpening ceramic knives is more difficult than sharpening steel knives it can be done with the right tools and a little skill and knowledge.
The main difference between sharpening ceramic knives and steel knives is the overall hardness of the ceramic. The easiest way to overcome this is to use diamond abrasives when sharpening ceramic knives.
While it is true that both silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide are both technically harder then the ceramic knife material Zirconium Dioxide, they are so close to the same hardness that it is extremely difficult to sharpen ceramic knives well without using diamond sharpeners.
This brief overview will explain how to sharpen your ceramic knife assuming you already know the basics of knife sharpening, if you want more details on exactly how to sharpen and maintain that razor sharp edge on your ceramic knife then check out out detailed post here on exactly how to sharpen a ceramic knife.
Once you have a diamond sharpening stone or mechanical sharpener the main differences to keep in mind is that your ceramic knife should be sharpened more gently and with finer grits than you might with a steel knife. This will help cut down or prevent chipping or breaking your ceramic knife blade.
It is recommended to use gentle and consistent strokes when sharpening, being careful to apply smooth and even light pressure while supporting as much of the blade as you can. Be sure not to apply too much lateral force on the blade to avoid it breaking.
Using too coarse of a grit can create micro chips in the edge and make it difficult to get it extremely sharp. Start out with a slightly higher grit than normal and use light even pressure. Proceed to finishing with the highest grit you have available, up to 8000 and even above 20,000 will provide you with the sharpest blade.
Due to the low difference in hardness between the ceramic and even diamonds it will take more strokes to achieve an extremely sharp edge than it would with a steel knife. Exercise great patience and care when sharpening your ceramic knife and you will be pleased with the result.
If you want to learn in even more detail how to sharpen any type of knife and maintain that razor edge like the pros then click here to check out our fully detailed sharpening guide that explains everything you would ever want to know about sharpening knives.
Is A Ceramic Knife Better Than Steel?
Many of the ceramic knife pros and cons detailed above show that while ceramic knives can be very useful kitchen tools, there are many advantages and disadvantages to ceramic knives.
Their ability to hold a sharp edge for a long time makes them extremely appealing to many people. The fact that they do not rust and are very easy to keep clean also appeals to many people.
However, since they are so hard and tend to chip easily this is a complete deal breaker for some. Couple this with the fact that they can break when dropped and are unsuitable for prying or twisting make them a specialty knife that is mainly appropriate for specific conditions.
Ceramic Knife Pros And Cons Final Verdict
If you want a low maintenance knife that will hold its edge for a long time and have the discipline to only use it one softer foods and take care of the edge then a ceramic knife might be a great choice for you.
With that said, if you are concerned with the fact that ceramic knives can chip and break relatively easily then a good quality steel knife might be a better choice for you.
Either way, knowing how to care for your knife, knowing which tasks your knife is suitable for, and keeping your knife sharp and ready for use in the kitchen is an important skill to have and I hope this article helps you make this decision for yourself.
If you have any comments or questions please drop a comment and I will be sure to reply.