▷ Stainless Steel Knives vs Carbon Steel Knives | A Solid Brief

By Gias

Almost every kitchen culinary is made of steel and knives are one of them. The best kitchen knife is made of the best steel material. Many brands around the world offer knives with high-quality steel. Yet, there are questions regarding stainless steel and carbon steel. Most people have not acknowledged the clear concept of stainless steel knives vs carbon knives

Hence, to get the best knife, many become confused about which steel blade they should choose. However, not knowing the differences between these two steel types is not your fault. It is not always necessary for you to do master’s knowing the best steel. Yet, to get the supreme bang out of your investment it is better if you know the materials properly.

Actually, steel is nothing but can be made of all metal alloys. With wide ranges of grades according to the applications, different steel material is used. However, it is generally divided into two huge categories and they are stainless steel and carbon steel.

Reviewing Steel Elements First

Both carbon steel and stainless steel are made of almost the same elements. Among them, iron and carbon are two very basic elements. What differs them from each other is the alloy content. However, both types contain carbon. The amount of carbon may differ yet, carbon is one of the essential elements. 

Hence, carbon steel refers to high-carbon steel that means it contains a higher amount of carbon. However, you see the physical distinction between two types of steel when the carbon steel is manufactured with alloy content under 10.5% whereas the stainless steel with more than 10.5%. That could be chromium or anything.

Stainless Steel

stainless steel knives

As we mentioned before stainless steel also contains a tiny amount of carbon for its makeup. However, stainless steel is rich in Chromium and this essential element in stainless steel differs from carbon steel. The makeup of stainless steel contains a bit of carbon, iron, and chromium of about 10.5%. We all must have heard about the protective properties of stainless steel to corrosion and rusts.

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Nonetheless, it is because of the chromium that is used in it.  Resisting tarnishing this element provides a silvery sheen. Reacting with the oxygen from air chromium creates a passive layer on the steel hence it protects the steel from being rusted or corroded. Even though stainless steel is malleable enough yet, the material is less brittle compared to carbon steel.

Carbon Steel Review

Carbon steel is characterized by its carbon containment of a higher amount. It would be proper if said, the amount of carbon weighs about 2.1% of the carbon steel. Unlike stainless steel, carbon steel does not contain any chromium, vanadium, cobalt, tungsten, or any other resistant metals. Even other elements including manganese, copper, silicon remain in a very neglecting amount.

carbon steel knives

However, carbon steel provides more strength and hardness compared to other steel types. Moreover, the weight of carbon content higher than 2.5% results in powder metallurgy. This leads to the process of making the steel from powder instead of the melting process. However, steel processed out from this method is considered the most expensive steel.

This steel also has superior properties. Hence, for making high-end knives and high-quality pocket knives, this steel is used.

The Main Differences: Stainless Steel Knives Vs Carbon Steel Knives


According to the elements and their properties, carbon steel is way harder than stainless steel. As its carbon content is higher hence it boasts hardness at the same time the material is also brittle. 

On the other hand, for low carbon content, stainless steel is less hard. Instead the material is a bit ductile but tough enough to be used for a knife blade. 

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Resistance to Rust and Corrosioncarbon steel knives vs stainless steel

Stainless steel is more resistant to rust and corrosion than carbon steel. This is one of the downsides of carbon steel. Because of the element, the steel is less resistant. However, stainless steel can rust as well if proper maintenance is not taken. 


The edge of carbon steel remains sharped for a longer period than the stainless steel edge. Carbon steel provides higher edge retention.

Again, knives with carbon steel are easy to sharpen. On the contrary knife blades that are made of stainless steel hard to sharpen and it takes quite a long time. 

Also, stainless steel requires more carefulness while sharpening as it is apt for deformation. But high carbon steel will retain its actual shape and formation even after rough sharpening.

Chipping Resistance

For having brittle properties carbon steel is less resistant to chipping. The material is also prone to breaking. Whereas, stainless steel is way resistant to chipping as the material is less brittle compared to carbon steel.

Availability and Affordability 

Stainless steel knives are both available and come at an affordable price range. Also, stainless steel is more eye-catchy and appealing to have in the kitchen. Knives made of stainless steel are budget knives and people of every class can have them.

However, compared to stainless steel, high carbon steel is not that available. In fact, except for some of the best knife brands out there, maximum knife brands offer knives that have stainless steel blades. Then again, they come at expensive price ranges.

Stainless Steel Knives OR Carbon Steel Knives, Which One Should You Choose?

Now, that you know everything about both stainless steel and carbon steel, the answer to depends on you and your need. Nevertheless, none of the steels come with superior characteristics. Each of them has pros along with cons. 

  • If you want your knife to be razor sharped and strong enough then you can raise your hand to grab the high carbon steel blade knife.
  • If you want to use your knife in your home kitchen on a regular basis, a stainless steel knife will do good.
  • If sharpening is a hassle to you and you want uninterrupted cutting satisfaction then carbon steel knife has a lot to offer you.
  • If you are a professional cook and want your cutting tasks to be done without any hassle and trouble, go for the high carbon steel knife. Most professional cooks out there choose a knife that is equipped with a high carbon stainless steel blade.
  • If there are chances, your knife will be more exposed to moisture, pick up the stainless steel knife.
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Final Words

Long story short, both the steel types have their own properties. Both types of steel have advantages and disadvantages. Yet, these steels are famous materials for making knives. Though most renowned brands try to provide knives that have high carbon steel blades yet, stainless steel also slays the cutlery market. However, which material you choose matters less. What matters most is that how you are taking care of your knives. 

If you maintain proper care both types of steels will serve you for years. Also, go for the one that will meet your need first. Don’t be overwhelmed and trapped by the marketing. Choose wisely. Lastly, let us know if now your doubts regarding carbon steel and stainless steel are clear or not! 

About the author

Introducing Gias, an Engineer and Kitchen Knife connoisseur with a specialization in Japanese Knives. With over five years of dedicated testing, reviewing, and research experience, Gias brings a wealth of knowledge to the world of kitchen knives. Passionate and deeply committed, Gias has created this site as personal documentation of their unwavering love for kitchen knives.

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