The late 90s brought a huge push for use of ceramic blade knives, especially in the kitchen, from companies like Kyocera. While marketing stresses a number of the advantages a ceramic blade knife can bring to the table (pun intended), there are a few very considerable disadvantages you should be made aware of before making the choice to switch over to using ceramic blades as a replacement for steel.
Take a look below at the pros and cons list. You’ll probably notice pretty quickly that, while there are approximately the same number of advantages as disadvantages, the disadvantages that exist carry much more weight than the advantages. This being the case, it’s likely that the disadvantages of ceramic knives, even if only for kitchen use, will be a deal breaker for many.
Advantages of Ceramic Knives
- Ceramic is 100% stainless, making it immune to acids and caustic substances. This makes ceramic excellent for tasks such as cutting citrus fruits, for example.
- Ceramic can in theory keep its edge longer when cutting softer materials – like vegetables and other fibrous tissue. (Though this is true, some super steels have just as good, if not better, edge retention).
- Ceramic is very light.
- Ceramic is technically dishwasher safe. It’s not advisable to put ceramic knives into the dishwasher, though, as they may fracture if they are hit by other objects while being in the dishwasher.
Disadvantages of Ceramic Knives
- Ceramic’s brittle edge means that if you slice into meat advertised as boneless and yet it find even a sliver of a bone, chances are the edge of your ceramic knife will at the very least chip.
- If you drop ceramic, you stand a good chance of breaking it.
- Ceramic can only be used to cut softer materials.
- Ceramic requires stronger abrasives when sharpening, much like stainless steels or super steels.
As you can see from the pros and cons listed above, ceramic knives definitely do offer some nice advantages over traditional steel cutlery. The problem, however, is that these benefits are greatly outweighed by the fact that ceramic, since it is a harder substance than steel, is far more fragile and less forgiving to getting thrown around in the knife drawer.
Scientifically speaking, on the Mohs scale ceramic weighs in at 8.5, a hardness that is merely 1.5 away from the hardness of diamonds (10). Hardened steel on the other hand is notably softer, coming in a half point lower at 8. Hardened steel is, as a result of it being a little more malleable, a lot less brittle than ceramic is, and thus a lot less likely to break.
From Personal Experience
My personal experiences with ceramic knives admittedly leave much to be desired. The only ones I have tried have snapped on me – my recent purchase breaking less than 30 minutes into use while I tried to cut some medium-hard cheddar cheese. A little too much accidental sideways pressure and it was a gonner.
There’s no pretending that ceramic is anything like regular steel when it comes to knives, and that likelihood of snapping is where the crux of the problem with it lies. To use ceramic knives on a regular basis without having them break on you, you’ll have to completely change the way you handle your cutting tool. You’ll no longer be able to put pressure sideways, and you’ll have to be much more careful how you place it in the utensil drawer or the dishwasher. Otherwise, you’re going to have to be replacing your ceramic knives after every use.
The fact that I have to avoid cutting certain types of materials (like bone for example) in order to use ceramic knives in my kitchen is a ridiculous inconvenience for me. Frankly, it’s one I won’t ever put up with. I expect my kitchen knives to cut whatever ingredients I put in front of them, and that’s that. Sure, some of my steel knives do have thinner grinds, and as a consequence I have to be a little more careful with them, but I would never go so far as to buy a knife that I would expect to end in catastrophic failure (like a sudden snap) while cutting, the way I expect with ceramic.
When cutting “appropriate” materials I will say that ceramic can be pleasant. It can get very sharp (not any sharper than a good steel, mind you, but sharp nonetheless) and the edge is completely smooth with no tooth or bite. Couple that with its inherent lightness and I admit it is quite natural when used against ingredients like vegetables and fruits.
That being said, to me a knife will always first and foremost be a tool, and if I can’t trust a tool to stay in-tact while using it for its intended purpose (which I unfortunately cannot with ceramic), I feel it has no place in my arsenal.
The cons of ceramic knives, in my opinion, far outweigh the benefits. The brittle nature of ceramic means that no ceramic knife, no matter how high the price tag or how high the quality, will come without risk of snapping or breaking when in use – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
This makes ceramic blade knives a no go in my kitchen. Ceramic does look great in knife form – but that doesn’t mean I’m going to put up with a sub-par tool in order to utilize it.
I know this comment is coming late. I just want to state I only own 50 knives so that means I am not crazy just bi polar lmao. I will say it. I hate ceramic knives, Drop it = ruined. Cut food can mean microscopic chip with possibility of ingestion, Sharpening is a hassle with mailing to a company or attempting to sharpen yourself which I can state from experience is almost impossible. Ceramic is impossible to field sharpen if camping or living outside as I do. Another problem is weather. Try cutting with a ceramic knife In 0 to 10 degree farenheit weather. Cold weather makes them even more brittle. Hit a bone slicing fish? Chip. Hard wood cutting board? Chip. Yeah good luck carrying in a backpack and dropping your bag with gear changing and banging together and not breaking a blade. Far as their superior edge retention I say bull. There are knives out with steels that come close or equal edge retention of ceramic. The cavemen and Native Americans one time used glass and flint. And I am willing to bet if they had the chance to use modern steel they would have been glad to throw their stone and glass knives in the trash. I also do not subscribe to some of the views a few mention as disposable being an advantage. I see that as lazy and bad habit. I am not a pro like Dan but I prefer to sharpen and care for my tools as they are an investment and my care of my gear reflects on me and my character to myself and others. I agree with you Tom and Dan both. Great article.
You don’t properly use a ceramic knife to cut cheese and then seem surprised when it breaks. That’s pretty funny.
Thomas Xavier says
Yeah, I live life on the edge, expecting a knife to be able to cut cheese.
Well, use the knife properly next time.
Barry Prokopetz says
Sorry for late comment. We just returned from a “home show” and were at a demo for ceramic knives. The pitch man FIRST suggested how good they were for cutting hard cheese-wouldn’t stick because knife was so thin. While I was there, a lady asked if she could return 2 ceramic knives because they were knocked. I looked at one. It had 7 or 8 small knicks out of edge, other one hzd a 4mm divot missing. Warranty was great! The man just gave her 2 new knives “No questions asked” I was impressed until she said they were only 1 yr old and was careful. We chose not to purchase.
Tyler Jarvis Pilkington says
Post was ok i guess but was very strongly biased…
Thomas Xavier says
Definitely very biased- I don’t hide that at all! Thanks for dropping by Tyler.
Why on Earth would you use a ceramic knife to cut cheese?
I can’t get my head around that logic. Cheese, especially cheddar, isn’t what I’d classify as ‘soft’. It is very sticky and does not cleave easily. Of course a brittle knife is at risk of snapping on such a ‘grippy’ medium.
And the logic that a knife ought to be one tool for all jobs is ridiculous. If a frying pan, for example, is not deep enough, perhaps you should use a pot instead. As is the case with the ceramic knife, it has a place and purpose. If you’re cutting frozen things, bony or otherwise hard/difficult to cleave things, then maybe put the ceramic down and pick up your steel, otherwise enjoy the benefits of the ceramic. It’s light, thin, sharp and looks awesome!
Thomas Xavier says
Why would I use a knife to cut cheese? What a strange question to ask.
Your analogy whilst inventive, falls flat as there is nothing a ceramic knife can do that a steel knife can’t but there is plenty a pot can do that a pan cannot.
High quality kitchen knives are thin and some come designed specifically with lightness in mind, they are equally sharp if not sharper when sharpened properly and I have yet to find a ceramic knife that can beat the look of a clad damasteel option from Japan.
Thanks for dropping by Sivan, sorry about the late response.
I believe the question was not ‘why use a knife’, it was specifically ‘why use a ceramic knife’ on cheese.
It’s a very good point about the lack of utility of a ceramic knife vs a steel one, however, I don’t have an issue with that. My issue is with the cheese XD
There are so many things in life that are technically and practically rubbish compared to its alternative solutions/tools. People will pay more for a fancy plate that does nothing more than hold food like any other plate. Fanciness is subjective, as is its ‘looks’. Thus, to say Damascus steel looks better than ceramic is up to personal preference.
I remember once having said fancy plates. They had swirly lines that were raised and after many years of use, they chipped as steak knives were used on them. The moral is that although it looked nice, it wasn’t designed to withstand steak knives; I should have only used butter knives on it perhaps.
The same applies to ceramic knives. They’re not meant to be the best utility knife. They’re fanciful to some, more aesthetic to some and absolutely not meant to cut dense or brittle solids, including cheese. I just think that faulting a ceramic knife on its cheese cutting ability is like faulting your socks for not covering your elbows properly; a task it just isn’t meant to be judged on.
Thank you for the reply, I wasn’t expecting one :) I have neglected to mention that your article is really good despite my cheese issue haha so please feel complimented.
I personally just like the idea and elegance of ceramic knives but I seldom use them because I like to bang things a lot in the kitchen. But nonetheless I love them, it’s always a pleasure to take them out of their box, remove their protective plastic sleeve and start cutting. I do however love sharpening knives… it’s an activity that requires finesse and so I enjoy the fact that I can sharpen my steel. Not sure where I’m going with this paragraph… but steel dominates my kitchen yet I only enjoy it when I’m sharpening it, however I always enjoy using my ceramic :)
Thomas Xavier says
I endeavour to answer *all* comments and never censor my readers. People absolutely have a right to an opinion and whilst I understand the appeal of aesthetics on a theoretical level, the reality (as you aptly stated) is that it will always be based on a subjective opinion.
Performance however, isn’t subjective as it can be quantified and thus I always (on the blog at least) focus on that.
As for the feel and “joy of use” of ceramic knives, check out a Kono Japanese kitchen knife (67 layers), the fit and finish is perfect and the feel in hand is agile, precise and I imagine,would bring a smile to your face. ;)
I don’t care for ceramic knives… or that pattern-welded crap either. ;)
Outside of looks, there is nothing that pattern-welding can do that decent modern alloy can’t do better.
They do look very distinctive, and I appreciate that others can love them solely for that. To me it’s just excessive effort put into subpar materials.
Lester Stere says
It is interesting the bashing of ceramic knives on this site. I for one find that no steel blade (440C, etc.) can compare to the sharpness of a ceramic blade. I carry a folder Bench Mark ceramic blade knife with me at all times when working outside to cut most anything from small branches to opening cement bags. Sure after at least 2 years it is getting dull and that is how I stumbled on this site. I use ceramic knives in the kitchen for cutting the turkey, chicken, ham, etc. If you keep in mind the one major drawback is not bending the blade, you have a knife that even though it gets some microscopic nicks in the blade it remains sharper than your best steel blade and it does not still have germs on it after a mere rinsing. With some people if the don’t like something nothing is going to change their minds, especially if they are ‘experts’
Thomas Xavier says
Its interesting how people who love ceramic knives seem to really take offence at people who don’t, listen mate- I tried the damn things and they snapped cutting cheese so give me a break! As a side note, the steel has little to do with its theoretical peak sharpness. I can sharpen a butter knife to hair shaving sharp- the only difference is that it won’t keep an edge worth a damn.
Maybe try out an S90V kitchen knife as it seems you put a great deal of emphasis on edge retention (to the exclusion of everything else). Plenty of people dislike ceramic knives- maybe there is a reason? Give it some thought!
Lucy Harding says
Research for ceramic knives, brought me here, but your last comments seem to be in anger, I don’t think anyone is trying to prevent you having view point, but you seem intent on trying to get Ceramic Knives banned or ‘taken off the market’. I’ve used ceramic just as much as steel, quite happy with either, Lidl often have Ceramic Knives for £10 a set of three, so they can be replaced easily.
Make your case by all means – but no need to spoil other peoples experience of ceramic knives.
Thomas Xavier says
Hardly anger, just amused by Lester’s tone and consequently I answered in jest using the same terminology (ad verbatim) that was directed at me. With regards to your own position, you are more than welcome to keep using whatever you wish- at no point have I ever motioned for legislation to be enacted against private ownership (as a Libertarian, that would run contrary to my ideals) and the liberty to chose what one wishes, but ultimately I, as an individual, do not support them as they offer little to no benefit & feature quite a few drawbacks which are well documented both on my website and to the extent that retailers who have a vested interest in selling you choice (those who want ceramic, will buy them regardless of personal or vendor bias) have flat out refused to do so- the British https://www.knivesandtools.co.uk/en/ct/ceramic-knives.htm is a good example and certainly do not stand alone in this position.
As a side note, the point you made about being able to replace those knives for a low entry price is hardly a ringing endorsement- a knife is a tool that should be expected to last with habitual maintenance. Not to be ditched and re-bought due to fractures or chipping. At least that is my position on the matter.
Thanks for visiting and I hope I answered your question succinctly.
Lester Stere says
You are exactly right! After reading the response to my comment, it was so superficial and biased that I did not even respond, thank you for doing it for me. I have broken a ceramic knife, but it was my fault in using it wrong and pushing it sideways. I too can sharpen a quality steel knife to be able to shave with it, none the less I have found ceramic knives to maintain a sharpness like or better over a much longer time, than the steel blade. To say that it won’t even cut cheese without breaking is (to put it mildly) not too bright. I carry both types of knives every day I am working around and they both work well in their proper circumstances. I also use ceramic knives in the kitchen, but my wife is afraid of them and only uses the steel one.
As one sided as ever – I’ve been using our ceramic knives for years quite happily. Never cut myself, always put them in the dishwasher, etc… its really very simple, used properly and there is no problem… please people just take care as you should around any knife.
Thomas Xavier says
Once again Guy, you are missing the point.
I share my own experiences on my own blog, many people have had the same experiences and we are fully entitled to voice them.
The issue at hand is the reality that ceramic knives offer little to no advantages compared to a high quality steel knives and suffer from many downsides from micro chipping when cutting materials that frankly shouldn’t impact the edge (Ciabatta being a good example) to tensile strength issues which can create dangerous scenarios.
Both Lisa & I broke a ceramic knife cutting cheese. Cheese.
The issue at hand is not whether they are usable. They are useable, but are they better than the alternative? No. You don’t need to “take care as you should around any knife” Because any other knife will not break cutting cheese.
My friend chopped his thumb off in India opening a coconut – shall we ban Machetes? You seem to have a vendetta against Ceramic Knives because you broke one on some cheese. That is what I don’t understand. Nothing I say or write would change your mind.
Thomas Xavier says
Thats a silly arguement, He didn’t chop off his thumb because the machete shattered as it struck the shell.
2 people in this comment section alone broke their ceramic knife on cheese. Catastrophic failure is a recurring theme with ceramic knives as I have pointed out.
My “vendetta” is stating my experience, I am sorry it doesn’t fit in with your own narrative.
These ceramic knives should be taken off the market by consumer protection services. I bought a set by a reputable maker for my mother-in-law two months ago. Unwrapped it, used it to cut a soft cheddar, damn thing snapped in my hand and went flying upward. Lucky I wasn’t hurt. And glad it was me and not Mom with her arthritic hands. Wrote to the manufacturer immediately. No response. Unbelievable that this dangerous product is on the market. (Knives, of course, are inherently dangerous, but you understand what I mean.)
Thomas Xavier says
Pretty much my experiences Lisa, thanks for dropping by- nice to know I am not alone!
I have two ceramic knives that have been around for almost a year now I think. I don’t handle them carefully, put them in the dishwasher, and don’t worry about what I’m cutting with them, and I’ve never had a problem with them.
The larger one did have some chips, so I tried to sharpen it along with the rest of our knives, but I didn’t have a special sharpener and seemed to have made it duller instead of sharper, so other than having to sharpen it more carefully and maybe with different material, I don’t have any downsides to it compared to metal.
Thomas Xavier says
Aye, some people have never had catastrophic failures with their ceramic blades. I have had it happen and seen it done enough that I am now hesitant to use them.
Once bitten, twice shy & all that. ;)
The main reason to never put a sharp implement in the dishwasher is the inherent corrosive nature of dishwashing detergent, (it is in caustic range of the acid – base scale), as well as it’s abrasiveness. Washing ANYTHING sharp in the dishwasher will dull it, over time, as the detergent eats away and grinds away the fine, sharp edge of knives, peelers, etc.,
I won’t get into the pissing match you several of you have going re: ceramic knives, but if you want to hear my experience, go to the blog post X does on sharpening ceramic knives and read my comment there.
I will add that I bought a ceramic potato peeler for a lark and a ceramic hard cheese grater for my wife, (she just couldn’t find a decent one that actually worked).
I can’t recall what I paid for them, but they were not more than the equivalent in XOX brand, and she loves having a hard cheese grater that WORKS and I have been VERY impressed with the peeler. It is made exactly like a two blade steel potato peeler and gets just as much abuse as it’s steel counterpart and has held up,well. for 6-8 yrs.
As far as breaking your ceramic knife on cheese, X, why the hell don’t you have a cheese knife? They are cheap. One of the best I’ve had came from one of those sets of 47 knifes they’ve been selling on infomercials for 37.95 for 10 years, at least. You know, Ron who ever, and the numbered knives, plus the kitchen sheers and the flavor injector!
It’s the dimples in the sides of the blade that make ‘cutting the cheese’ an easy enterprise. A ‘knife is a tool’ guy like yourself should have a cheese knife, I mean really. LOL…
Here’s another tip for great knives from an old fart. I wanted some pint beer glasses, real ones, about 20 years ago,,so I went to a wholesale kitchen and bar supply house close to where I as living at the time.
My new wife had never been to one before, (THESE are the minds of dates wives LOVE, guys), so she had a blast looking at all the stuff you normally don’t see at Kitchen Kaflooey or Bed, Bath & Bugger. We got the glasses, a big SS pot, some ladels, but the best thing we picked up were two commercial/industril white plastic handled 2″ knives. They have straight, twin bevel blades, with a quarter round tip and are a favorite all around knife for both of us. I have never had to sharpen them, PLUS I’ve thrown them in the dishwasher for 20 years just to abuse them, (I’m funny that way)
I’ve said for nearly ten years I should go back and buy a few more, but these keep on cutting fine and I’m a leary I may find these knives, like so many things I’ve grown to appreciate over the years, might not be as good as they once were.
Thomas Xavier says
Hi Geo, thanks for dropping by and sharing your insights, with regards to corrosion- not all steels degrade. Look into H1 and X15tn, they won’t be affected by detergent but will dull if they rattle against other steel in the dishwasher. Heat may also affect them adversely.
I hear what you are saying about owning a cheese knife but at the end of the day, I shouldn’t need to worry about a blades ability to cut cheese. Ever. All the knives in my kitchen can get pretty much anything I want, the difference is that some do some tasks better than others.
If people want a specific knife for a specific purpose (ceramic knife just for tomatoes for example) then by all means- go for it. But personally, I don’t like this inherent limitation.
I have no doubt there are some steels out that are resistant/more resistant to most dish washing detergents, but I’d venture most people don’t have them in their kitchen, and with the wide variation in what soap manufacturers might use, I’d rather keep my sharp utensils out of the washin’ box.
Your point about dulling is a good one and goes for anything you own that has an edge; be it a chisel, drill bit or knife. You toss them together with their brothers & sisters or anything as hard as they are, they will get dulled.
What makes a good cheese knife worth it having around is the ease with which you can cut sticky cheeses, You may already have a knife that will do good sticky cheese duty, though, and not realize it. The secret to them is indentations on the sides of the blade which remove a surface for the cheese to get sticky on.
Since I became aware of cheese knives and what makes them work so well, I have noticed other kitchen-type knives, here and there, with ‘dimples’ on the blade, which are not being marketed as cheese knives. If you have one, give it a try, you might already have a good cheese knife and not know it.
Thomas Xavier says
I have never had an issue cutting cheese, maybe the type of cheese in Europe is different in texture from the states? I use my Douk-Douk or an Opinel & works out fine. I wash all my knives by hand (delicately), always prefer taking care of my expensive kitchen blades.
European cheeses may well be different, but it may also be the type of cheese you prefer. I personally prefer & purchase cheeses at the extra sharp end of the range. These tend to be drier as they are aged longer to get the sharpness. I typically don’t need to break out the cheese knife for those.
When I’m cooking or preparing cheese for entertaining, I am typically serving cheese at the other end of the range from what I prefer, and that’s where a cheese knife shines. Cheese at the mild end of the range aren’t aged as long, are softer and can be so sticky it’s not a matter of how sharp the knife is, but whether you can just get it though the stuff. Before cheese knives with dimpled sides, wire cutters were used, or cheese shavers. Shavers are like a grater with a single large cutting hole and you pull them across the cheese rather than pushing the cheese across them like a normal cheese grater.
Wire cutters worked well when they were brand new, but the inherent problem was always keeping the wire tension high enough to work well. Everyone I ever had ended up with poor wire tension, and in the recycle bin.
I still have three cheese shavers, and I think all of them came from Europe, originally. Because of their design they worked best with sticky cheese, but that didn’t mean they were great. Because you were pulling across the cheese, the challenge became keeping the cheese stationary.
This is challenging with soft, sticky cheese, and the cause of many smashed and seriously deformed blocks of cheese while trying to get uniform slices for a sandwich or for a serving platter, especially if you were wanting thin slices!
Since the invention of the dimpled blade cheese knife, thin, uniform slices of even the stickiest cheeses is not a problem, whatsoever.
Regarding handwashing knives, it is my preference, as well, and the recommended method. Safety is in issue, though, and I started keeping a small brush around for cleaning the sharp knives when my daughters got to be dishwashing age. It became a habit, and even thought they are long gone from the house, and are parents, (well, one of them is), themselves, a brush for safely washing knives, (and other things), is still around.
Something I discovered more recently, which works very well for knives, is white Scotchbrite. The Scotchbrite pad normally found in the kitchen is green. Some of the ‘Scotchbrite’ backed sponges have something only resembling actual Scotchbrite on them.
Scotchbrite was developed as an autobody finishing abrasive, especially good for non flat surfaces. In my world, it migrated from the shop to the kitchen, especially once my wives, (serial, not simultaneous), got some experience with them in the shop, pieces of it started showing up in our kitchens, (again, serial, not simultaneous!), as they discovered it worked just as well on the SS pots & pan as it did on car parts, (I’ve restored antique cars and built street rods all my life, several times, as a profession, as well).
When my current wife went to work for MSC, the huge industrial supplier, I’ve had a chance to try out a lot of stuff not normally found at suppliers, auto parts or hardware stores. Also, buying with an employee’s discount means I can ‘sample’.
When I needed Sctochbrite a few years ago, I got into the catalog and found there were 8 or 9 different colors of Scotchbrite, (each color is a different grit approximation). The most I had ever seen in suppliers and stores was three: brown, red & grey, sold as coarse, medium & fine, respectively.
Was I surprised to find the spectrum now available to me! I ended up ordering some white, the finest grit mde, (if I remember correctly). It is more like a buffing pad than an a abrasive. It works nicely on soft metals and plastics as an abrasive, but on hard metals it is more like hand buffing.
Like before, some of the white migrated to the kitchen and I have discovered it is not only great for knives, but I prefer it to the coarse, red Scotchbrite we have used in the kitchen for 30+ years. It doesn’t get used on pans with a lot of food residue, the red didn’t either; a brush works better and is easier to clean.
I use a piece of white Scotchbrite large enough to wrap around the backbone of the knife and get both sides, at once. It does a great job cleaning, doesn’t scratch knives with a high polish and is a safe washing technique, to boot.
You can get white Scotchbrite online. Probably the only way you can.
Thomas Xavier says
European cheese (thousands of them) run the gamut from super soft to basically brittle. Never had any issues with Camembert or Dorset Cheddar which I have pretty much every day- I find that if you keep your knives screaming sharp its rarely an issue- regardless of what you cut. I got into this conversation with my grandmother a while back because I don’t bother with a breadknife. My plain edge chefs knife is so sharp I go through bread with no issues. With that said, I do strop weekly and I imagine most people wouldn’t want to maintain their steel to such an obsessive degree.
Interesting information on this Scotchbrite stuff, currently in the UK (just moved here from Canada) and the green scotchbrite is everywhere- found some white stuff but I am not sure if its comparable- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tools4Boards-Brite-X-Fine-Abrasive-Snowboards/dp/B00OIPZZ2Q/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1466864859&sr=8-19&keywords=scotchbrite what do you think?
just my 2c worth….i have fibromyalgia,and cutting even a good steak can be a joyless experience.i can no longer easily sharpen my dreizack,kaicut or victorinox knives without pain,even with a lansky kit,but for eating pleasure,even a cheap chinese ceramic blade that you throw away after a year beats the pain of everyday meals using steel.yes,they can chip,but as an eating tool for someone who has problems bearing down with pressure,they far outperform serrated or microsteel.it is with immeasurable sadness that i have had to retire many of my earing irons,but the throwaway nature of ceramic makes saying goodbye to a dull knife much easier..by the way,for price comparison,here in south africa an average chinese made ceramic paring knife can be bought for not much more than the price of 2 bic mac burgers with sides and a soda
Thomas Xavier says
I can definitely see your point in your specific situation. I would recommend using a Spyderco fully serrated (spyderedge) blade for cooking with, I think you will find it much more pleasurable & edge retention is absurd.
Check out http://amzn.to/1BB2Z8j
I’m still puzzled on why these things are being produced. Feels like we are taking a step backwards in technology. Why would anyone buy a tool that comes with so many caveats? Don’t cut into bone! Careful on what type of surface board you use! Send back to factory to sharpen! Make sure they are expensive models – the cheap ones are no good!
Couldn’t imagine owning a screwdriver that restricted me to only using on screws in soft wood. How about a hammer that is only functional when driving nails into soft balsa wood. Would you purchase it?
I think the pinnacle of this silliness is best described on how many companies market these things: The are “Eco-Friendly!”
Absurd technology. Absurd marketing jargon. Trendy consumers are gullible.
Elise Xavier says
I could disagree more, you don’t use a flat head screwdriver on a philips screw, you need the right tool for the job.
With respect 90% of all cuts (ask Quora) in the kitchen are caused by blunt knives. People simply do not undertsand the risk they take when using the wrong implement for the job.
Ceramic Knives – do their job better than steel, that is cutting fruit and veg, fish and meat (minus bones).
Point is that their advantages are irrfuitable as they are based on fact.
Thomas Xavier says
A good steel knife will outcut a good ceramic knife. There is a reason why all chefs still use high quality steel blades for everyday use. This argument that somehow I should treat ceramic knives as delicate little tools is ridiculous. Check out the previous comments for examples of a high quality ceramic knife when it comes into contact with bread.
The final cutting bevel does not define a knifes cutting performance. You can grind a steel blade to be almost paper thin whilst mainting decent edge stability (under sideloading stress). You cannot do the same with a ceramic knife and thats why it will never had widespread adoption.
Ceramic knvies do *not* do a better job than steel blades using objective metrics and extensive CATRA testing, by all means feel free to cite your sources and evidence to support such an opinion. The professional cutlery industry obviously disagrees with you so unless you know something they don’t….
As a sidenote; Quora is not an exhaustive source of unbiased data, no methodology is stated nor are the facts behind proclaimed opinions listed.
At risk of arguement – which is not intended, I would say, sure a Good Steel knife has advantages, but how much do you have to pay to get a decent Steel knife, Ceramic knives are value for money in terms of sharpness. A decent ceramic knife will start at sound $20 whereas an equivlently sharp steel knife will start at what $60, $100, $200?
Grinding, I would agree you need to keep your knives sharp – but be honest and practical – how many people do you know in your average kitchen hone their knives once a week… Most people on a practical level will sharper their knives (or throw them away) when they get to blunt. That is the reality, thus better to have a knife that stays sharp for longer.
Ceramic knives are odourless, do not damage what they are cutting and are proven to be more hygenic. I won’t disagree for the average kitchen user it does not make a lot of difference, but for people who care…
And lastly, I would suggest that most chefs nowadays have at least one cermaic knife in their tool kit, most cookery schools recommend cutting fruit and soft vegetables with a ceramic knife. Partly because chefs, understand the lightness and easy of use of Ceramic. That’s not to say they chucking out their steel knives, but they are aware and often do use Ceramic as well. They have advantages.
Thomas Xavier says
In terms of value, you can pick up a Victorinox Chefs knife with a fibrox handle for 20bucks. Its hardly an expensive investment. In terms of utility a steel blade can do everything whilst ceramic is inherently limited by its brittleness.
Honing doesn’t sharpen a knife, and there is no need to sharpen it (using stropping or removing material with waterstones etc.) every week. If you find your edge getting damaged you can add a secondary convex bevel and its toughness will increase dramatically. At the end of the day using “how many people do x” as an argument is disingenuous- its not about the mainstream but about whats better or worse. I know people who tear their steaks apart using their forks- does that make it ok?
I care very little about mainstream adoption if its not substantiated by facts or logic- if people want to be lazy and use an inferior tool then go for it but unless someone can demonstrate using numbers instead of useless anecdotal evidence the benefits of Ceramic knives then I don’t see my opinion (or this article) changing.
A stainless steel blade (420HC or derivative) is also tasteless and odorless & doesn’t damage what it’s cutting.
If you’re cutting something acidic or easily bruised obviously using a steel knife with a high chrome content is recommended. Thankfully these days, its the cheapest option.
Concerning adoption amongst “cooking” schooIs, I live in a city where most people drive SUV’s. Mainstream adoption has nothing to do with performance or logic. There has been a huge push by Kyocera & other companies heavily invested in ceramic to boost adoption among the pro’s and consequently the advertising, free samples etc. have been rampant.
Absolutely zero (literally zero) chef uses ceramic exclusively as it doesn’t work in a busy professional environment as it can’t be treated roughly or hit against steel without risking the edge chipping off.
Not to sound dismissive Madeleine, but the only people who defend ceramic knives seems to be those who sell them.
http://postimg.org/image/90xyuvgax/ <-- once again, after cutting bread.
Wow – you have got it in for people using Ceramic Knives… no-ones saying you have to give up on Steel, all we’re saying is that Ceramic has merits too… and they are based on considerable fact as well.
Countries like Japan have very high adoption rates of Ceramic Knives… are you saying they are all wrong? I suspect the Ceramic Knife industry in the ‘west’ has spotted something good and thinks the rest of the world might benefit.
Personally right tool right job.
Thomas Xavier says
I have it in for misinformation. Ceramic knives have ZERO advantage over a good steel knife.
Steel is just as sharp, has as good (if not superior) edge retention & none of the flaws that ceramic does.
Countries like Japan have miniature gelatin burgers that are bubblegum flavoured and come in a DIY kit.
Practicality is not always the selling point of new products, sometimes we buy shit just ”cos its new or because it looks pretty (and admittedly, they do look pretty).
Anecdotal evidence holds no sway over me, just numbers. By all means respond with real world benefits that ceramic knives have over steel that warrant its inherent flaws.
Until then all I hear is a bunch of shills & marketers trying to sell the world a product that it didn’t need.
Dan Schwemin says
I’m not quite sure why I’m not able to respond to the end of this conversation but I read the entire conversation between you, Guy, and Madeleine.
I must say, at the end of the day, I agree with you Tom. I’ve just never seen a reason or way that a ceramic knife would out-perform a good steel knife to warrant owning a ceramic blade, especially considering the massive short comings of ceramic blades.
After reading Madelein’s comment comparing the cost of a decent ceramic knife vs. the cost of a decent steel blade, the 8″ Victorinox Fibrox knife instantly came to mind, and then I read you’re comment and smiled when I then saw that you recommended the same knife.
I am a police officer by profession, but I also professionally sharpen blades as a side business for extra money. As a professional blade sharpener, I do all of my sharpening on stones by hand. I avoid using powered equipment because I don’t like the added risk of pulling the temper from the steel that powered equipment imposes. If anyone cares to see the stones and gear I use, I posted some pics on my facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/ScarySharpSHS
As a professional sharpener, I’ve mastered sharpening edged tools such as: kitchen cutlery, knives, straight razors, barber shears, household scissors, nail clippers, vegetable peelers, pruners, machetes, axes, the list goes on!
As a fellow blade aficionado, I own probably over 200 knives and straight razors now, and of all the chef knives I own (high-end included), my go-to chef knife is my Victorinox 8″ Fibrox knife. It has great quality steel, great edge geometry, is easy to sharpen, holds a very good edge, and has great handle ergonomics and comfort; all for about $30! I just don’t think it can be beat! It’s like the Mora of kitchen cutlery.
I also owned a set of Kyocera ceramic knives and used them for a few weeks, then ultimately got rid of them. I was just not impressed at all… I didn’t feel they provided any apparent benefits over my steel blades, and ended up just being more risky and more of a hassle than steel blades. I also found it to be annoying that ceramic blades can ONLY be sharpened on diamond sharpening stones due to the fact that ceramic is second in hardness only to diamond on the Moh’s hardness scale. So sharpening a ceramic blade on anything other than diamond is just going to needlessly wear your stones down.
I also wanted to address something else you made reference to in your review Tom. In your review you talked about one of the benefits of ceramic knives being “dishwasher safe”.
As a professional sharpener, I try to educate my clients about their cutlery so that they can protect their investment while also making their cutlery use experience more enjoyable fulfilling, as well as alleviating the need for them to keep coming back to get their blades sharpened nearly every week! (Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy their business, but I’m not in the business of taking people’s money.)
When customers keep bringing their knives in to be sharpened on nearly a weekly basis (sans being a cook in a professional kitchen), it tells me they are doing something very wrong! In my experience, it’s generally one of 3 things:
1. Washing the knives in the dishwasher.
2. Storing their knives in drawers with other items.
3. Cutting on surfaces that dull the knife.
I advise my clients to NEVER wash their cutlery in the dishwasher for numerous reasons. Putting cutlery in the dishwasher results in the blade’s edge banging and clanking against other objects in the dishwasher which will immediately dull and even potentially chip their knives. Secondly, the dishwasher has an awful habit of either melting synthetic knife handles, or ruining nice wooden handles on fine cutlery.
Instead, I recommend my clients always hand wash their knives (this takes about 30 seconds people!) and then immediately dry the knife and put it away… Which leads me to my next topic – the infamous “knife drawer”!
I also advice clients to NEVER put their knives into drawers where the edge of the blade will be coming into contact with other items. This will dull your knives, not to mention is dangerous! Instead, I recommend my clients always store their cutlery in a dedicated knife block. If a counter-top knife block is simply not in the question due to limited space and storing their knives in a drawer is the only option, then I strongly recommend my clients consider purchasing a drawer knife block such as this one – http://www.amazon.com/KnifeDock-Knife-Dock/dp/B004T2ZPQY/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1438094251&sr=8-10&keywords=drawer+knife+block
or if this block is also a no-go, then at the very least I recommend that the client invest in some simple blade guards for their knives such as these: http://www.amazon.com/Messermeister-EGS-08C-8-Chefs-Edge-Guard/dp/B00063SH9M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438099273&sr=8-1&keywords=blade+guard
This will keep the blades sharp as well as guard the user against potentially cutting themselves on an exposed blade. The great part about these drawer knife blocks is that they allow you to store any combination of different size or brand of knife you like. This is not the case with most traditional wooden knife blocks that come with cutouts specifically designed for certain sized knives. And any true cook knows to never buy knives sold in “sets”. I tell my clients that 99% of home cooks only ever NEED 3 knives in their kitchen: a chef knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. And for those that eat a lot of fish, a good filet blade may be worth the additional investment. But generally I recommend that they buy these three knives individually, and to get a quality made knife.
Lastly, I find many people are making the mistake of cutting on surfaces that are harder than the steel in their knife, which will instantly dull their blade. I advise clients to NEVER cut on metal pans/cookie sheets, glass/ceramic plates, stone counter tops, or glass cutting boards. All of these will dull your knife. I’m sure some of you are wondering why a glass “cutting board” would be on that list… and quite honestly, I’m wondering that myself…. not because I’m not sure why it dulls the knife, but because I’m wondering why a company would ever manufacture a cutting board made from a substance that is known to dull knives! For those wondering, glass is roughly the same hardness as most steel knives (remember the Moh’s scale?) therefore, cutting on glass will dull the cutting edge of your knife. That being said, I always advise clients to ONLY cut on either wooden, or plastic/poly cutting boards.
I find that if people follow those 3 simple rules, their knives stay sharp for a very long time, and will only periodically require a few swipes on a honing steel (provided they know how to properly use one).
I know I’ve gone off topic, but I ultimately feel that it’s pertinent. When it comes to ceramic blades, I just don’t see any big advantage to them over a traditional steel knife, but only many disadvantages to cope with. Thanks Thomas! Take care my friend!
Thomas Xavier says
A most excellent response & one I generally agree with. I concur that the 8″ Fibrox Victorinox is fantastic. I very much love mine, even more than my more expensive blades, Its really crazy how much steel you get for $30!
With regards to issues with responding- its due to the threaded nature of the commenting system. Nothing I can do about it unfortunately! One of the main reasons I started survivalthreads.com is to facilitate superior discussion! Join us!
About the dishwasher thing, I agree in principle but some modern dishwashers have a flash tray design for your knives so that they don’t make contact & ceramic is immune to any heat generated by the dishwasher. Its still not a good enough reason to own one as far as I am concerned!
100% agree with people cutting on hard surfaces, one of my friends cuts on his granite counter top and then complains when his knife is dull…blows my mind.
I cannot let this go, I am sorry – you’re completely one sided here and I don’t really expect to change your mind. But you need to put into your place. You’re agreeing with a Policeman that makes money out of sharpening knives because what – he’s not paid enough? He owns 200 plus knives? Forgive me Dan – but I suspect you need help. You’re a policeman. No-one needs that many knives unless there is something wrong with them.
Next major point – Dan, I hope you’ll agree – you’re a knife Expert. You understand knives and work with them… you’ve probably spent a buck or two on decent ones as well… The original purpose of this Blog was to argue that Steel was better than Ceramic and what was all the fuss about. Now put you yourself into a Chef’s position, Ceramic is lightweight, less tiring, sharp for longer less sharpening, doesn’t oxidise food, more hygenic.
Moving on – put yourself into a older persons shoes – Ceramic is lightweight, easier to use, sharper, less prone to accident.
Put yourself into a normal house Mums position – Ceramic is cheaper (many people here have said so) – throw away if you like – if it’s blunt bin it, get another.
Tom I appreciate what you’re saying here, Steel has huge advantages, but so does Ceramic. So please stop being so one-sided, realise that in many circumstances Ceramic has got an advantage over Steel and don’t write off a country because you think they all eat bubble gum flavoured food.
Dan Schwemin says
No problem about the blog… Just wasn’t sure if it was going to be added to the correct part of the thread! lol No worries, I’ll just find a “reply” button and go for it! I’m sure you’ll get the post regardless.
As for the Victorinox 8″ Fibrox, I completely agree! The thing that keeps me coming back is the sheer value. I have some other much more expensive knives that are pretty much equal with respect to comfort, sharpenability, steel quality, and edge retention. However, they don’t even come close to a $30 price point which makes the value of these Victorinox knives outstanding! They just seem to scream out, “use me!”
As for the dishwasher, while I completely understand what you’re saying, and understand that ceramic blades are immune to heat; I’m saying that while the BLADE may be immune to heat, the HANDLE is often a different story! lol I’ve seen many a knife come into my hands from clients where the blades were fine, but the handles were destroyed from the heat of the dishwasher. Ultimately, I just don’t believe there is any justifiable reason why someone should be sticking their high quality cutlery in a dishwasher instead of just being prudent and taking the extra half a minute to safely wash it by hand and protect your investment.
As for your friend, you have no idea…. I’ve had many people tell me that “this knife, or that knife” sucks, and that it goes dull etc., etc., Then I come to find out that they’re cutting on their stone counter top, or a glass cutting board! It’s funny to see the look on their face when I tell them it’s not the knife, it’s what your cutting ON that’s dulling your knife; use a wood or poly cutting board and get back to me…. Well, they have this look on their face like I just told them the sky was purple! lol
Now onto Guy:
Guy, first off I ask that you please remain respectful of my job. It has no bearing on this conversation. As for money, I offer my sharpening business on the side because I enjoy it, and it allows me to make a bit of money while I’m at it – end of story.
As for the fact that I happen to own 200+ knives, please understand that by making the offensive remark about me “having a problem” and insinuating that “anyone with that many knives has something wrong with them”, you’re not only offending me, but I would also venture to guess that many of the people reading this blog are also knife collectors (some of which probably own MANY more knives than I do), and would also probably be offended at your remark. Bottom line is, it’s a hobby like anything else. I’m 30 years old, and just so happen to have been studying martial arts since I was 6. I’ve earned the rank of 2nd degree black belt (not that it’s pertinent), however blade fighting was a part of what we studied. This was what started my love of all things pointy and sharp! ;) I then later became fascinated with the art of sharpening, which I then dedicated obscene amounts of time to master. After this, I became fascinated with survival and bushcraft. I then studied and completed an advanced level winter wilderness survival school in New Hampshire at the Woodsman School with instructor Derek Faria. I also happen to be into cooking and culinary knife skills. I also took a number of classes with regards to culinary blade skills and after much practice, have come close to mastering that as well. So needless to say, my passion for all things that are knives runs deep. So all I ask is that you don’t bring my character or job into question here. The very fact that I became a police officer was so that I could help the people that can’t help themselves.
Now onto your counterpoints:
You said – ceramic knives are lightweight, less tiring, sharper for longer, doesn’t oxidize food, and more hygienic.
Okay, I won’t argue that ceramic is lightweight and as a result, are probably less tiring. As for staying sharper longer – yes you’re absolutely right. Ceramic does stay sharper longer, however I only see this being a concern for someone that doesn’t know how to sharpen a knife which in my opinion is wrong to begin with… Part of being a knife owner, is understanding how to maintain and care for your knives… It would be like a gun owner not knowing how to field strip and clean his firearm.
As for not oxidizing food…. I don’t see that being a terribly important perk to anyone really… Second, the oxidation of food has more to do with your knife being dull than it does with the blade being made of steel. The studies I’ve read determined that the reason most fruits & vegetables like lettuce or apples begin to turn brown is not due to the steel, but rather because the knife’s edge is blunt. They went onto say that cutting the lettuce or apple with a blunt knife crushes and destroys the cells within the lettuce or apple causing the reaction which turns them that unappealing brown color. Furthermore, testing showed that when lettuce and apples were cut with a very sharp (steel) knife, there was virtually no oxidation.
Next you said ceramic blades are more hygienic. This maybe true, but in reality you should be cleaning your knives after your done using them regardless. Steel does not support bacteria anymore than ceramic, which is why everything in ER surgery rooms are made of steel. Furthermore, as long as your knife is NSF certified, you shouldn’t be having any issues with the knife’s level of sanitation and cleanliness.
As for ceramic blades being used in the professional kitchen setting, I happen to also sharpen knives from professional kitchens for various food service businesses in my area and have gotten a good glimpse into how these kitchen work during busy time… I can say with almost complete certainty that a ceramic blade would never make it in a professional kitchen… Anyone who’s ever been in a professional kitchen when is hopping, knows it’s complete chaos! Likewise, the knives get banged around on the prepping stations, as well as often being dropped on the floor. They are also used by many different cooks/chefs, and used for cutting all different things which may include nicking bones. That being said, the inherent risk of breakage that come with ceramic knives would prevent them from ever being a feasible cutlery option in the professional setting. And while you may have seen a pro chef such as Ming Tsai using his Kyocera blades on “Simply Ming”, remember that he is sponsored by Kyocera and being paid to use their products, and that is also a TV set and there are no other people around to mess with those knives. Something additional to note is that Ming also often uses steel blades as well.
As for elderly people… Firstly, I would like to set the record straight and say that in no way is ceramic “sharper” than steel. You can get steel every bit as sharp, and in some cases, sharper than ceramic. And steel is easier to sharpen as well…so let’s put that rumor to rest. Also, when it comes to elderly using knives, arthritis is generally more of a concern when using a knife than weight (baring that the knife doesn’t weigh some ridiculous amount of course!). Therefore, the choice of blade material or difference in weight of a few ounces really doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as handle ergonomics. As for ceramic being less prone to accidents, well… I believe that statement to just be completely unsubstantiated and untrue. There is no difference in safety when dealing with ceramic blades versus steel blades; a sharp blade is a sharp blade.
As for your counterpoint where you stated, “Ceramic is cheaper (many people here have said so) – throw away if you like – if it’s blunt, bin it, get another.”
I have a few problems with those statements. First, ceramic is not always cheaper, case in point, the Victorinox Fibrox chef knife we already previously spoke of. The Victorinox is a great value and quality made steel knife for about $30. That alone proves that statement to be false right there. So I cease to believe that argument holds water.
Lastly, using the fact that ceramic knives are throw away as a positive, speaks from a point of view of sheer ignorance; and in my opinion, no way at all a selling point to show that ceramic is in any way, shape, or form superior to steel knives in any way.
In conclusion, if using ceramic floats your boat, then go for it! It’s all about using what you like, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just so happen to agree with Thomas on this one… I believe that ceramic’s fragile nature FAR overshadows ANY and ALL of the smaller side benefits that you listed, nor am I impressed enough with their feel to implement any into my arsenal of kitchen cutlery. I don’t believe ceramic knives have valuable enough benefits to outweigh their short comings yet. Until that day comes, I will stick with steel.
And for the record, Thomas and I have absolutely nothing against Japan or their knives. Frankly, I think Japan has some of the best steel the world has ever seen, and always seem to be on the cutting edge of new steel variants. I’m sure Thomas would agree. I know Thomas and Elise are both Spyderco enthusiasts whereas I just so happen to absolutely loath Spyderco, but Thomas and I will both agree that they sure use great quality Japanese steel. I hope I cleared up any confusion.
Thomas Xavier says
I was going to respond to Guy but you basically did it for me. +1
Join us on survivalthreads.com please! Would love another knife addict (I own over 500+ knives so I must definitely be crazy).
Nice post. Now, just an opinion:
Like there are different types of steel, there are different types of ceramic for blades. You can’t expect something like a Victorinox CeramicLine to perform the same way as something you buy for 3€ in a supermarket.
Although I’m no cook (my wife takes care of that and I wash the dishes), I’ve worked in the cutlery business and I’ve seen and tested plenty of kitchen knives. Best knives I’ve ever tested were steel, but I’ve seen some outstanding ceramic knives perform much better than I was expecting.
With that being said, I still agree with you. If you buy a quality ceramic knife, I doubt it will break on a simple task like cutting cheese. However, it will break if you drop it. Investing on a quality knife, and knowing you have to be extra careful not to hit a bone too hard, is difficult to accept on my book as well. Yes they are outstandingly sharp and they will slice your fingers on such a clean cut, you will only notice after 10 seconds (and then comes some nasty pain). But, like you eloquently said, knives are tools, and you should expect them to perform flawlessly without any concerns.
Thomas Xavier says
http://postimg.org/image/90xyuvgax/ here is a pic of the edge a Forever SC-16WB ceramic knife (one of the highest rated on the market) after cutting ciabatta bread.
http://postimg.org/image/q86tqsas5/ and after a few weeks of use, littered with micro chipping.
I have handled knives ceramic knives from “good” brands like Kyocera and whilst they are certainly tougher, it still always comes down to the same fact that a ceramic knife can’t do anything that a steel knife can’t. Why should I compromise?
I want to like ceramic knives, I really do! But I just don’t have any incentives to do so unfortunately.
Great photos, thanks for sharing those. Interesting to see that kind of damage just for cutting bread, I never had access to such detailed photos of ceramic knives before.
Like you, I also want to like ceramic knives, but I guess that won’t happen in the near future. :-)
Thomas Xavier says
What I like the most about ceramic is the inherent lightness. In the hand its so light it basically becomes an extension of your arm. Maybe in the future there will be advancements in material tech and we will have a more ductile ceramic to use in cutlery. I hope so anyway.
Agreed. Kind of like choosing what type of fork you are going to eat with. If you had your choice, would you ever really pick the plastic fork? Sure, if you were planning on throwing it away after eating with it. :-)
Thomas Xavier says
+1 indeed Chris, Indeed.
Hello. I like your blog.
Elise Xavier says
Thanks, Dorine :).