The 10 Best Ceramic Knives
This wiki has been updated 14 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Nothing makes you feel like an Iron Chef quite like a high-quality kitchen blade. These ceramic knives are incredibly sharp, stain-resistant, and antibacterial, so you'll think you're a cooking superstar every time you use them. Just be careful, however, as they can break if dropped or used on bone, and it's probably better if you don't put them in the dishwasher. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best ceramic knife on Amazon.
A Brief History Of The Kitchen Knife
Most early knives barely had handles, while some had their dull end wrapped in animal skin or some other protective material.
Wood handles are generally regarded as attractive, but they do require extra care.
Regarded as humankind's first tool, knives were used by ancient hominids at least 2.5 million years ago. Because of their status as the earliest human tool, knives are assigned spiritual significance by some cultures who hold them in reverence.
Originally made of primarily of stone and bone, knives evolved from there to eventually come from various metals, including bronze, steel, iron, and ceramic.
Knives didn't make their way to the dinner table until the French Bourbon Dynasty of the 16th century. Prior to that, they were used almost exclusively in combat, for cutting and shaping other items, and in butchering and preparing meat.
It is said that knives were kept away from the dinner table because at the time they were kept exceptionally sharp, making them dangerous to anyone who consumed one too many drinks with dinner. They also had a strong negative connotation earned by their use in killing both animals and people.
Later, in 1669, King Louis XIV banned sharp knives at the dinner table, ordering them to be replaced with blunter, wider dinner knives. This tradition continues today.
Most modern knives are in either the fixed-blade or folding construction. Folding knives originated with the penny knife, which grew popular in 18th century England for its portability, affordability, and utility. Its name is said to come from its reputed price: one penny. Ceramic kitchen knives are an exclusively fixed-blade alternative to the standard steel kitchen knife.
Knife handles have evolved as well. Most early knives barely had handles, while some had their dull end wrapped in animal skin or some other protective material.
Later handles were made of steel or wood. Today's handles are often made of wood, plastic, composite materials, or stainless steel.
Wood handles are generally regarded as attractive, but they do require extra care. Wood handles do not hold up well to water, and can absorb microorganisms. Plastic handles do not have these issues, although they can become brittle and crack with age. They can also become slippery when wet, making them potentially dangerous.
Composite handles combine the aesthetics of wood handles with the easy maintenance of plastic by combining plastic resin with laminated wood composite.
Stainless steel handles are durable, sanitary, and often slippery. They also are typically heavier than other handles, which can disturb the balance of the blade.
Why Ceramic Blades Are Special
While you may not believe it, most ceramic knives are actually significantly harder than their steel counterparts.
This is because ceramic knives are most often made from zirconia, a crystalline oxide rated at 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. For comparison, diamond is rated at 10 on the scale, and normal steel at 4.5. Even the best hardened steel maxes out at 8.
The resulting edge requires much less sharpening than the typical steel blade, thanks to zirconia's remarkable properties.
Ceramic knife manufacturers compress zirconia powder and expose it to heat in a process called sintering. After sintering, the knife is sharped by a diamond-coated grinding wheel. The resulting edge requires much less sharpening than the typical steel blade, thanks to zirconia's remarkable properties.
While ceramic knife users won't need to sharpen their knives frequently, when they do, a professional sharpener may be required. Ceramic knives, unlike steel knives, do not benefit from regular sharpening. In fact, attempting to regularly sharpen a ceramic blade can actually shorten its life by causing fracturing and chipping of the cutting edge.
When the ceramic blade dulls or begins to chip, a special diamond-dust sharpener is required. Owners may also seek out the services of a sharpening specialist.
Ceramic knives do have other drawbacks. Chief among them is brittleness. While they are remarkably hard, if they are dropped or bent, they have been known to shatter. This is because they are so hard they actually refuse to bend when put under stress. Where a steel knife would flex and perhaps warp, a ceramic knife breaks.
The latest ceramic knives are much less susceptible to fracturing than earlier models, however. Advances have also made it possible for ceramic blades to have serrated edges. With early ceramic models, only traditional edges were possible, due to the limitations of zirconia.
Essential Knife Safety
When using a kitchen knife, there are a number of important safety tips to keep in mind.
Chief among them is to handle and store knives with care. Thoughtful use of blades can prevent most injuries. For instance, it is wise to tell others after you've sharpened a knife.
Other safety tips include cutting in a direction away from the body, keeping fingers and thumbs out of the cutting line, and using special protective or cut-proof gloves.
When you transfer a knife to someone else, place it on a flat surface and let them retrieve it.
If a knife falls, never try to catch it, even if you are wearing protective gloves. If you cook often, try to collect a number of specialty knives. Knives that are well suited to their purpose are generally safer to use, according to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
If you're planning to use a cutting board, it can help to place a damp cloth under the board to prevent slippage. Also, when you carry a knife, keep the cutting edge angled away from your body, with the tip pointed down by your side. When you transfer a knife to someone else, place it on a flat surface and let them retrieve it.
When you're done using a knife clean it and place it in a container designed to hold knives, rather than mixing it in with other utensils. Do not leave knives in the sink after using them.
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