How to Pick the Best Ceramic Knife?
This article is dedicated to readers that are interested in purchasing a great ceramic knife, but need a little bit of help in finding out which one is the best. Here, we’ll discuss everything from the pros and cons of ceramic to how you can go about sharpening it and using it both in the home and in a professional setting.
It should quickly be noted that the first company to market and distribute a home ceramic knife was Kyocera of Kyoto Japan. Since then, there have been numerous competitors, of which Victorinox, Calphalon, and Shenzen are well documented. Designer blades on the market such, as Edge of Belgravia and Feinzer, are comparable to Kyocera and Victorinox in quality despite the difference in price.
Below, take a look at a variety of chef knives on the market and see how they compare to the ones we discuss throughout this article:
|Victorinox Chef’s Knife||$$$|
|Shun Premier Chef's Knife||$$$|
|Shun Classic Chef’s Knife||$$$|
|Wustoff Classic Cook's Knife||$$$|
|Wusthof Ikon Cook’s Knife||$$$|
PROS OF CERAMIC KNIVES
The benefits to a ceramic blade are numerous. So let’s dig into them and discuss the advantages.
Ceramic blades hold their edge significantly longer than their metal counterparts. They also are not capable of rusting, which means you’ll get a much longer life out of your ceramic knife than you typically would if your knife was made of metal.
The ceramic knife will not be affected by cutting caustic and acidic foods, such as lemon or onion, and is versatile with many forms of meat as it is non-porous and therefore does not retain flavors or odors.
There is nothing comparable to slicing a tomato with a ceramic knife, which should always be a test of your new blade. It should be as easy to go through the skin as the soft inside of the tomato without bruising or crushing.
Ceramic knives are just as useful outside the home as in. Along with their all-around blade toughness, they are also non-rusting and non-conductive at room temperature, making their use in water, especially for divers, much more favorable as you don’t have to consider rusting a factor.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling chef’s knives currently for sale on Amazon:
|1) Victorinox Chef's Knife|
|2) KitchenAid Chef Knife|
|3) Utopia Chef Knife|
|4) Shun Chef’s Knife|
|5) Wusthof Chef’s Knife|
CONS OF CERAMIC
As amazing in the kitchen as the ceramic knife is, it does have a few shortcomings.
- The supreme toughness of the blade leaves it brittle and prone to chipping. Professionals highly recommend using them with wooden or plastic cutting boards to avoid the sharpening that follows a chipped edge. Kyocera offers a lifetime sharpening service for their blades but that means shipping your knives out and waiting for them to return back to you. Likewise, you’ll want to be careful not to drop or mishandle the knife on hard surfaces. Due to its brittle nature, dropping or placing the knife improperly on a hard surface may cause the knife to crack or shatter altogether.
- The blades are also inflexible, and tasks such as filleting a fish are next to impossible as the rigid blade will not allow the bending needed to remove the fillets cleanly and efficiently from the carcass.
HOW IT IS MADE
Ceramic kitchen knives are made through a process of Sintering, or Hot Pressing. It begins with a wet mixture of Zirconium Dioxide and additives. Similar to traditional ceramic creation,n they tumble in a mill, creating a uniform shape and density.
Once the mixing is complete, the solution is left to dry until it becomes a very fine powder. This fine dry powder of zirconium dioxide is placed in a mold and heated to a point just before melting and then is pressurized to 10,000 psi. Layers are added and the process is repeated until you’ve reached the correct thickness of blade.
Next the blade is refined, sharpening it through the use of diamond knife sharpener. The process is efficient in producing a cohesive, layered, singular unit. The sintering process leaves very little room or voids between the molecules of the knife and the diamond-dust grinders refine it to a point of artistry.
When finished, the ceramic blade has a toughness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, whereas normal steel rates at only 4.5 and refined steel at a 7.5 to 8. The basic knife averages between 6 or 7 and the highest rating possible is that of a diamond which has a Mohs rating of 10.
HOW TO SHARPEN
To sharpen a ceramic knife, it is easiest to leave it to the professionals which, due to the extreme durability of the edge, should not be often.
If you want to sharpen your knife at home, it would be wise to consider getting a ceramic knife sharpener which is similar to a skate sharpener, but on a much smaller scale. Most ceramic sharpeners run on batteries and a good sharpener should have a rotating diamond grindstone. A ceramic grindstone may also do the trick but you should never use a whetstone on a ceramic blade.
With an electric grindstone, place your knife against the guide so the heel of the knife rests on the stone and draw it through slowly while the sharpener is running. If your sharpener does not have a guide in place for you to draw your blade through, it should be sharpened at an angle of 35 degrees.
Do not use a conventional knife sharpener to hone your blade. Due to the toughness and the brittleness of the edge, a sharpener for a steel knife will not work for a ceramic blade and can cause chipping or possibly even shattering.
Many of the high-end ceramic knife companies offer a lifetime sharpening and reshaping service for their knives and Kyocera will service their advanced ceramics knives for only the cost of shipping. It is worth looking into the services offered by your knife company prior to buying to see if purchasing your own sharpener would be worthwhile or if you’re comfortable sending your knives away for a while to be sharpened.
The ceramic knife has many uses in the kitchen, both professional as well as for the home chef. Tasks such as:
- Fine chopping of vegetables, as these knives are best for thin slices and dicing into super fine bits and pieces.
- Switching between various foods in a kitchen is not an issue, as these blades will move from item to item tastelessly.
- Use with vinegar, lemons, limes and other high acidic food which will ruin conventional steel blades.
- Slicing for garnishes or fine slices of meat and cheese.
- Sushi and Sashimi preparation are this Knife’s Forte.
These knives do have their drawbacks and should never be used for jointing or other tasks where their rigidity will cause them to snap.
The best use of a ceramic knife in the home is regular day-to-day cooking. It is most noticeably different to a high carbon knife when used with acidic fruits and vegetables as, despite the high concentration of acids and the moisture that come with them, the ceramic blade remains immune to rust and the edge does not easily dull making perfect tomato rounds every time.
The other thing that makes these knives ideal for home use is that within the home one rarely has an entire carcass to break down and therefore issues, which may arise within a professional kitchen, are neatly avoided.
Truly, to the professional chef, the real beauty of the ceramic knife is its longevity and versatility. Being able to switch from dicing vegetables to slicing meat without the transference of flavor makes the ceramic knife a weapon of choice. The way that it holds its edge without need of a regular sharpening means that it can be used day in and day out in the professional kitchen and the chef will never notice.
Knives of Note
Not all knives are created equal, and this goes for ceramic knives as well. Ceramic knife lineups of note are those like:
- Ceramic Life
- Kobe Master
- Kyocera Revolution
- Shenzen Ceramic
- Victorinox Ceramic
To have a fair comparison, the 3 knives to be compared will all be chef’s knives from their respective series.
The Kyocera Revolution chef’s knife is a modestly priced knife under $100. This makes it affordable to the general populace and comes with Kyocera’s lifetime complementary sharpening. All that is required is the shipping and handling charges.
These knives are very light and are not weighted, which makes them very easy to handle and reduces strain on your wrist. These knives, like all ceramics, are known to be impervious to foreign elements thereby eliminating flavor contamination.
They come with either a white or a black blade and are available as part of a set or on their own. There are 3 sizes available: 6 inch, 7 inch, and 8 inch for the user’s individual comfort. The knives all feature black resin handles and a deep bellied-blade, which give plenty of room between the handle and cutting board.
The Shenzen ceramic chef’s knife is an economic choice at under $30. This is a great way to try a ceramic knife without breaking the budget.
While these knives are not heavy, they are not as light as some ceramic knives and this makes it easier to cut through certain materials such as boneless meat easier but comes with the drawback of potential earlier fatigue. This being said, these knives are still not as heavy as steel knives.
There is only one size available, a 6.5 inch chef’s knife and it is available on its own or in one of multiple sets. Their handles are a black plastic and are fairly simple in design.
Victorinox is a well-known brand of knife, less so for their ceramics yet these knives wear the Victorinox branding with pride. This knife is fairly expensive at over $100 and comes with a lifetime warranty.
These knives are properly and carefully balanced to allow for enough weight to move through the food without excessive effort while remaining light enough to avoid tired wrists.
Like the Shenzen knife, the chef’s knife only comes in a 6-inch variety and features a Fibrox handle with an ergonomic design.
- For your convenience, here is our review of the Victorinox Fibrox chef’s knife.
Overall, while the ceramic knife is an extremely versatile, lightweight and incredibly sharp tool in the kitchen, it is more at home in your house rather than in a professional setting. As there are numerous limitations which would cause issues in a professional setting such as the rigidity issues, the ease of breakage should they be dropped or used on a hard surface or even just a simple issue such as needing to change knives if a carcass needs to be broken down.
In the home setting, these issues are not as prominent as most houses or apartments can accommodate the changes required for these knives, such as only using wooden cutting boards and buying meat that has either been jointed or deboned previously.
Therefore, the ceramic knife is a viable option for those wishing for a low-maintenance kitchen tool that is versatile enough to go from tomatoes to chicken without any more than a wipe. After all, a knife that can be drawn from a block and used immediately without use of a steel is convenience at its finest.
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