To begin, ceramic knives are made from a durable and tough ceramic (as the name implies), often zirconium dioxide (which is also commonly known as zirconia).
According to Wikipedia, ceramic knives are usually produced by dry-pressing zirconia powder and firing them; the resultant blade is then sharpened by grinding the edges with a diamond-dust-coated grinding wheel.
Just to give you an idea of how hard ceramic knives are in comparison to a couple of other well-known objects: Zirconia is listed at 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, normal steel is listed at only 4.5, hardened steel is between 7.5 and 8, and diamonds top our list at a 10.
Did you know?
Diamonds actually aren’t nature’s hardest material anymore. We’ll let you know if someone starts making knives from lonsdaleite or wurtzite boron nitride. Lonsdaleite is sometimes formed when meteorites containing graphite hit Earth, while wurtzite boron nitride is only formed during volcanic eruptions.
So Why Should You Use Ceramic Knives?
There are several reasons that ceramic knives have a reputation for being the best.
For starters, ceramic knives are much more durable than metal knives, and as you have seen, they are harder too. Several brands (such as Kyocera) are manufacturing a black, specially designed blade which has undergone an additional hot isostatic pressing step, thereby increasing the durability of the knife.
And they are stain-resistant and rust-proof.
Ceramic knives retain their cutting edge much longer than metal knives and rarely need to be sharpened (more on that below in the section “Sharpening ceramic knives”) in the same way that steel knives do, however the blade will eventually degrade, chip or lose its cutting edge. Unlike steel knives, specialized services are needed to sharpen ceramic blades.
Due to their sharpness, ceramic knives are excellent for thinly slicing meat, vegetables, fruit, and even bread. These knives make for a healthy addition to your kitchen, complementary to your healthy pots and pans.
Ceramic knives are also easy to clean, don’t absorb odors, and they’re lighter than their steel counterparts.
Great! But What’s The Downside of Ceramic Knives
Although you may be getting excited and ready to rush out and purchase a ceramic knife set after reading all of their benefits, as with all great things, ceramic knives do have a downside as well.
For starters, since ceramic knives can chip, ceramic blades may break if dropped on a hard surface (like the floor) or even when chopping on a marble or glass cutting board. Of that also means that ceramic knives should never be used to pry open a container as the tip may chip off.
Also, you should never use ceramic knives to chop hard items such as bones or frozen foods.
Of course, even metal knives haves a downside. Steel knives are more porous so they tend to stain, transfer odors from the food, and since they are chemically reactive, they will also rust. Metal knives are heavier which makes chopping tiresome.
One of the biggest problems with steel knives is that they need to be re-sharpened more often than ceramic blades.
As both ceramic and steel knives have pros and cons, the final decision on which set is better for your needs will ultimately be determined by your own personal preference and the particular item you need to cut at any given time. Just like how chefs choose the cookware they use, like ceramic or stainless steel, you too will have to determine what knife you will use depending on your needs.
Ok Let’s Find Out How To Take Care Of Your Ceramic Knife
We all want life to be easier, right? So it makes sense to simply toss your ceramic knife set in the dishwasher and go about your business. Well, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Although you could put your ceramic knives in the dishwasher, the experts really don’t think that you should.
There are two main reasons why dishwashers aren’t good for your ceramic knife set. First of all, the hot water of the dishwasher can compromise the knife edge. The edge of the knife is made from thin strips of metal with a fine serrated edge.
Those tiny metal strips stay in place while they are at room temperature (and cooler), which keeps the blade nice and sharp. However, when exposed to heat, the teeth begin to curl, and your knife is left with a dull edge. Therefore, it is advisable to only ever wash your blades in cold water.
The second reason a dishwasher is not good for ceramic knives is because of the violent motion of the moving water during the wash cycle. If a ceramic knife were to hit, or was hit by, a dish or piece of cutlery it could likely chip or snap.