Did you know that if you cut foods with a sharp knife, they actually taste better? But how long do knives stay sharp, and when should you consider sharpening your loyal instrument?
People that use a high-quality knife in a traditional kitchen wouldn’t have to refine the blade more often than about 2 times per year. However, once honing stops bringing the edge back and the knife cannot effortlessly cut a piece of paper, you should consider sharpening the instrument.
What knives can stay sharp the longest, and how to take care of the blade to ensure that it serves you through thousands of delicious meals? Let’s figure that out.
How Long Do Knives Stay Sharp?
In general, a high-quality knife with regular home use would not need to be sharpened more than 1-2 times per year, and you might want to leave that to a professional.
It would be best if you considered refining the blade as soon as honing stops bringing the edge back. Then, you can gently move your finger along the blade to feel the edge and its sharpness for those who feel comfortable doing that.
If that’s not your kind of method, then try slicing a piece of paper with a knife. But, again, a sharp instrument should cut the paper reasonably effortlessly.
What Factors Affect the Sharpness of Your Knife?
- The type of material
The sharpness of high-quality ceramic blades can last for up to 10 times longer than a steel knife. However, ceramic knives are more prone to chipping.
- The frequency of usage
If you need a knife only to cut up a salad every once in a while, you might not need to sharpen the instrument any time soon.
- The types of products that you tend to cut
‘Soft’ foods will not dull your knife as much as the firmer products.
By the way, acidic foods can affect the sharpness of your knife, especially if it’s made out of carbon steel. Such products are also potentially corrosive.
- The storage method
You can keep your knives sharper for longer by using edge guards, knife blocks, or leather knife rolls, for example.
- How well you care for the knife
Don’t leave the knife in the sink. Instead, wash it as soon as you have finished and wipe it down with a dry cloth.
You should also consider honing your knives a few times per week (some prefer to do it after every use). Remember that you can’t use honing steel to sharpen a dull knife, but the rod can help you remove small amounts of metal from the blade to perfect the angle.
What Knives Stay Sharp the Longest?
Edge retention, hardness of the material, edge geometry, and grain size are the things that are going to affect the sharpness of a knife. Still, a non-professional would never want to deal with all these terms.
To make it a bit easier, let’s have a look at the materials out of which knives are usually made:
This non-metallic material can stay sharp for an extremely long time. Moreover, it is resistant to corrosion.
The main cons of ceramic blades are that they can easily crack and that they are going to need a special tool for sharpening (almost always – a diamond sharpener). Such a knife is also not good for cutting tough foods.
- Stainless steel
Stainless steel is the most robust material that can easily withstand any kitchen-related pressure. By the way, it is rust- and corrosion-resistant.
However, stainless steel has a relatively high chromium content, which means that such knives require fairly frequent sharpening.
- Carbon steel
Carbon steel is a type of stainless steel but a more affordable one. It can also hold its shape for longer and is very easy to sharpen.
The downsides of this material are that it is prone to corrosion, rust, and even stain – such knives don’t contain chromium, so you would have to clean the instrument after every use thoroughly.
All in all, ceramic knives stay sharp the longest. Still, many culinary enthusiasts tend to gravitate towards steel knives as they are more versatile and rugged.
How Often Should You Sharpen Your Knives?
If you are taking great care of your knives, there will be no need to sharpen them more than twice a year.
Bear in mind that you take a small amount of material off every time you refine the blade. As a result, the knife will become thinner and more fragile.
In general, it is better to under sharpen a knife than to over sharpen it. However, suppose you choose to perform this manipulation independently. In that case, there is a risk of removing the sharp edge, making the edge thicker, or wearing the knife down.
You might want to leave the job to a professional if you don’t know precisely when to stop the sharpening process and/or if you have only an electric sharpener. For example, with a whetstone, it is almost impossible to take off too much.
Bear in mind that sharpening is not only about making the edge razor-thin. It is also about getting the right angle and shape.
To sum up, your knives with everyday home use don’t have to be sharpened more than a few times per year. However, there is a big difference between sharpening and honing.
How Often Should You Hone Your Knives?
The edge of your knife might still be sharp, but if it’s not in alignment, the blade won’t be able to cut as well. When you hone, you polish the knife’s uneven surface.
The majority of chefs prefer to hone their knives before and after every use. For a regular person, it would be enough to use a honing rod about once a week; however, the exact schedule is undoubtedly up to you.
Hone your knives only when the instrument is sharp. If the blade is dull, honing will be ineffective.