You have heard all about the high carbon steel knives – how they are special and what makes them the next best thing after sliced bread.
If you are like me, though, you need some more convincing.
Not only that, but also some guide to get the best high carbon steel blade on the market at the best price possible.
Well, I don’t know what to say – you have come to the right place.
Today, we take a microscope to these special kitchen knives, see where they tick, what they bring to the table, and which one is worth your money at all.
Table of Contents
Is Carbon Steel Good for Knives?
Carbon steel is stronger, harder, and more durable than ordinary stainless steel. This makes it a better pick for high-quality and top grade knives that last for longer.
The material retains the properties of basic stainless steel alloy, meaning that it is also easy to clean and hypoallergenic. Thus, it is a highly safe piece of cutlery for your food items too.
Besides, the carbon steel material is easier to sharpen and does not react with food items so it makes for safer cooking.
Environmentally-friendly enthusiasts will also love the fact that carbon steel is recyclable.
Strong and durable with some green status to it. It doesn’t get better than that.
What is the best carbon steel for knives?
The fact that carbon steel is good does not mean that all carbon steel knives are worth their salt.
Like stainless steel, a carbon steel blade can also come with different ratings. The best carbon steel for knives is the 10xx series. They start with 10- and take two other numbers depending on their specific class.
Of these, you will most likely find that the most premium high carbon steel chef’s knife has a 1095 rating. Their more affordable counterparts (also great value for the money) will usually come stamped with a 1084 rating instead.
Which is better: Damascus or Carbon Steel Knives?
Damascus steel and high carbon steel knives are both great at what they do. But which is better?
That depends on how you define ‘better.’
High carbon steel knives have the advantage here. However, this hardness also makes it more possible for a high carbon steel knife to crack (instead of bend) when placed under high stress.
That said, a Damascus steel knife is not the strongest knife either and can sometimes look and feel of inferior performance.
When hardness is not a consideration, know that they resist corrosion better than their carbon steel counterparts. Due to the lower chromium content in a carbon steel knife, they are more susceptible to rust. Damascus steel is closer to stainless steel and can withstand corrosion better as a result.
I still do not understand why Damascus steel knives are sometimes competing or costing higher prices than high carbon steel knives.
Sometimes, I feel that the former is sold sold for the aesthetics more than performance. Left to me, I don’t even see anything special in the design that comes with these Damascus knives.
A high carbon steel chef’s knife is harder than the Damascus steel like I said. This allows the former knife to enjoy a higher cutting power, edge retention and deliver more precise cuts too. It is, thus, little wonder why they are the sweethearts of most professional chefs as they don’t need to be sharpened as often.
What are the best high carbon steel knives on the market?
If you’re currently in the market for some new kitchen knives and high carbon steel happens to be your preferred material, I’ve looked through some for you.
The good news is that you can get them all from Amazon.
How about a look, then?
Wusthof Classic High Carbon Steel 7-Inch Knife – Best Cooking Knife
- Hand-forged knife
- Serrated blade
- Full tang for better stability
- Ergonomic handle for improved handling
- Edge retention tech for extra sharpness
Wusthof is already a household name in the knife department.
This hand-forged high carbon steel cook knife promises a sturdy outlook, better handling, and improved durability in one package. Add that to the full tang and you have a well-balanced knife on your hands.
Choosing to use micro-serrated edges on the knife ensures better grip and improved cutting. However, this could prove to be quite a headache when the time for sharpening comes. Either follow this guide – or take the knife to a knife sharpening expert.
That said, Wusthof knows better than to not use high grade carbon steel material on this knife. Starting first on the list, you already know that you get full value for your money here.
Coolina Promaja Cleaver Knife – Best for Meat and Veggies
- Multipurpose knife handles fruits, meats and veggies properly
- Designed to handle a variety of different knife operations
- Full tang for better handling and balance
- Hand-forged blades
Yet another hand-forged knife, this cleaver from Coolina takes the crown when it comes to handling multiple purposes.
Whether you want to remove the meat from your turkey, slice some vegetables, prepare pineapples or share watermelon among the family, you can always reach for the knife.
If you have not used a cleaver before, this might feel a little heavy. It takes some getting used to but you should be swinging away in no time.
I especially fancy the separation of the blade’s edge from the rest of the body so you know where to sharpen. Coming with a 30-degree sharpening angle, this high carbon steel knife should retain its edge for longer.
Did I mention that it’s as sharp as they come out of the box?
Yarenh 8-Piece Professional Knife Set – Best Carbon Steel Set for the Money
- Damascus steel variant
- A set of knives at great value for money
- Ships with a free wood handle
- Made from high-grade materials from the Cutter City
For those who want a premium knife set at a reasonable price, the Yarenh 8-piece set is for you.
Inside this set are the bread knife, kitchen utility knives, kitchen shears, and a sashimi knife. You don’t have to worry about whether a chef’s knife or santoku knife is ideal for you anymore since they both come in this knife block.
Speaking of, you also get a knife block to store your knife in – and a whetstone to sharpen them when need be.
It’s been a long time since I saw a good deal like this one. If you need a new knife set, I don’t see why it should not be this guy.
Zwilling Full-Tang Professional 10-inch Knife
- Made in Germany, the home of some of the top-grade chef’s knives
- Forged from a single piece of stainless steel
- The blade is ice-hardened to stay sharp for longer
- Tri-rivet handle for more stability and ergonomic feel
- 15-degree angle/ edges
Zwilling has made a name for itself in the world of serious chefs and cooks alike. Even if you are just a hobby cook, you will find these knives suitable for various foods.
The high carbon steel knife looks to have a sharp edge even from the pictures. Wait till you hold it in your hands to know that is true.
The knife’s handle looks too short for comfort, but I can assure you that it is not. Opting for a full-tang and palm-grip appeal means you have better handling and don’t feel discomfort from using the knife.
Again, coming from one of the top German manufacturers that I know, there is no going wrong with this baby.
How I choose the best carbon steel knives
I did not just come across any of the knives above by chance.
If you were wondering, here’s how I came up with all five (5) of them. Even if you didn’t find anyone that catches your fancy up there, use this buying guide to search through the tons of high carbon steel knives out there.
The first thing that a customer should look out for is the brand name.
I understand that established brands peg a higher price on their products sometimes. Think of that as paying for the peace of mind, after-sales services, and years of R&D that comes with the single knife/ knife set that you have in your hand.
Otherwise, you could go with a poor manufacturer and have your knife falling apart in no time, not keeping sharp for long, or not just working right.
I don’t like it when a customer spends too much on a knife.
What we consider expensive is relative, but try and keep your knife spends below $200 (for a single unit).
When buying sets, you should be looking to spend between $300 to a few thousand.
From the basic chef’s knives to other kitchen knives above, you’ll see that I tried to bring different purposes on board. The knife set is probably the most all-encompassing of that.
The cleaver knife suggested above is great for meat, fruits, vegetables, and just about any other thing. When it comes to precision-based operations (like filleting, skinning, carving, etc), you will be better off with a santoku or chef’s knife. If you don’t want to get a kitchen knife solely for those purposes, that is.
Always know the reason behind a kitchen knife. When confused, or in need of some help, check out this knife identification and usage guide.
This is yet another reason to always go for premium knives.
They might cost more upfront, but you will save a lot on their care and maintenance.
You also don’t have to worry about the handle coming off or anything flimsy like that. Follow this basic knife maintenance and care guide and you’ll be fine with your knife.
No matter what anyone is trying to tell you, see what actual users are saying first.
Don’t even take my recommendations blindly. Sometimes, I might have missed something that others caught.
So, check out reviews – and see if the knife is worth your time in the first place.
The quality, durability, and premium appeal that comes with this culinary tool with high carbon content cannot simply be waived. Promising that razor sharpness that every chef loves, sharpness retention that my mother would be proud of, and a great value for money on top of that, you now know what all the fuss is about.