5 Actionable Tips to Keep Kitchen Knives From Rusting

We all enjoy the benefits that a kitchen knife offers. The kitchen knives can do almost all the kitchen tasks from cooking preparation to dealing with fruits. Unfortunately, these knives can rust, if you don’t offer proper care like keep the knife in the right place.

Rust is a disturbing enemy of every kitchen tool including kitchen knives. Therefore, to ensure your kitchen knife’s longevity and to get optimal performance you need to fight against rust.

The best way of fighting against rust is to stop or prevent your kitchen knives from rusting.

In this article, I’m going to tell you the ways to keep kitchen knives from rusting.

Why Do Knives Rust?

Three elements cause rust: iron, water, and oxygen. Basically, almost all the kitchen tools contain iron in a certain amount. In the same way, you cannot just keep your knives away from contact with water and oxygen, since you need to offer recurring cleaning to your kitchen knives. 

If you are wondering why steel blades rust, I must tell you that steel blades have iron as a secret element.

So when the knives contact oxygen and water, they produce iron oxide together, which we know as rust.

Here the chemical equation is: Fe + O2→ Fe2O3

How to Keep Your Kitchen Knives From Rusting?

There are lots of ways to clean off the rust from a knife. However, these procedures may end up damaging the knives badly. Once it starts to rust, it will spread very quickly and badly.

That is the best way of defeating rust is not to let the rust form on the knives. You can easily prevent or keep your kitchen knives from rusting.  Just do as follows:

Keep your knife clean and dry after every use

This is the most important task you need to do to keep your kitchen knives from rusting. This way you can easily prevent cross and unusual flavors contamination. Make this a habit for any type of kitchen knife; stainless steel is no different.

You can just rinse your knife with water or sink it into the water for better cleaning. Usually, I like to sink it, but that’s not mandatory. You can also use a damp cloth just top wipe it up.

At last, use a dry cloth to dry the knife. As I mentioned earlier, it just takes oxygen and water to make rust, so keep the knife to air dry is never a safe option if your living place doesn’t have that much airflow.

It is wise not to leave your knife in a place where the environment is humid. It will accentuate the rusting process. Besides, I also recommend not leaving it wet or air dry. You can just clean it using a towel in a minute. Be careful not to store it along with any kind of wet kitchen cutlery or towel/cloth.

Do not use the dishwasher

You should always try not to use the dishwasher to clean off your kitchen knife since most of the knives cannot stand against the humidity and heat of the dishwasher.

Yes, some types of knives can go along the process, yet it is safe to go for the manual cleaning process.

There could be situations when you have no options but to use the dishwasher to clean your kitchen knives. Therefore, you can use it carefully without leaving your knife on the dishwasher for a long time; just don’t let it sit inside the dishwasher. Take the knives out of it as fast as humanly possible.

In case you don’t have that much time, you can get the shelves out of the dishwasher when the cleaning process finishes. This will help the knives to dry very quickly.

Keep Kitchen Knives From Rusting

Put a limitation on acids

Carbon steel is very vulnerable to acids. It can react so quickly that you won’t even realize. Stainless steel is also prone to acids but reacts a bit slower than carbon steel.

You should always clean and dry off your kitchen knife immediately after you use it on something acidic. However, when the patina builds up on your knife the acids become too weak to cause damage to the knife.

Use a slurry or weak base baking soda to rub the knives, since it will reduce the reactivity considerably. I use a stainless steel knife when dealing with acidic elements, which I strongly recommend if you can afford one.

Let your knife build a patina

Another effective way is to let your knife build patina. Usually, it requires a Patina with the chemical equation of Fe3O4. Since the rust is Fe2O3, such a patina with tannic acid will keep the knife from rusting.

You can speed up the patina-building process by using your knife meat heavily and by soaking the knife into the blood.

Store your knife wiping with oil

When you are planning to stay out long or you have lots of knives, you can store your knives using oil. I do this every time I stay out for days. Just put a drop of oil on the surface of the blade and wipe the surface slowly with the oil.

I recommend using Tsubaki oil. Don’t use vegetable oil, since it will make the cleaning process hard with hour-long scrubbing.

Can Stainless Steel Knives Rust?

Some people may claim that a stainless steel knife will not rust.  Sadly, a stainless steel knife can also rust. Technically, these knives are stain-resistant as the name says stainless steel. However, they are not anti-rust.

Therefore, we should always be careful to keep kitchen knives from rusting, be whatever the knife material is. Yet, it is true that the stainless steel knives are less vulnerable to rust than the carbon steel knives since it contains chromium to fight against rust.

Is it safe to use rusty knives?

Usually the answer is yes. Rust is not but iron oxide formed using oxygen. However, sometimes it is severely dangerous if it is caused being buried in soil or feces. 

In such a situation, the knives could contain Clostridium tetani badly that will cause tetanus eventually. There could be some other dangerous and deadly bacteria as well. However, a rusty knife is always safe.

Final Thoughts

Don’t plan to clean of the rust of your kitchen knife, don’t even let the rust form on your knife and get the best performance year long.

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