Why Carbon?Many of our kitchen knives offer the choice of either stainless and carbon steel blades. If you're reading this page, then you probably went with the carbon. Or perhaps you're trying to decide if carbon steel cutlery is right for you?
Consider these basic principles:
For most chefs, the principle motivation for using carbon over stainless is simple: the carbon edges start sharper to begin with, and, if well maintained, they stay sharp longer. That's not to say stainless steel knives are inherently dull—it just means the carbon steel stuff is really sharp!
So, what's the trade-off?
Carbon steel blades are not rust-proof. They will quickly lose their initial silver coloring—but, with some extra care and attention, they will darken and develop a distinctive patina over time.
Tips for maintaining carbon steel blades
Do not soak carbon steel or leave your knives in the sink.
When you're finished cutting: wipe the blade clean.
Do not leave it wet, and do not leave food on the blade.
Be careful leaving your carbon steel knife around the sink, as a single drop of water can produce corrosion on the blade.
Crucially: Never put a carbon steel knife in the dishwasher!
With regular use and proper care, carbon steel cutlery will eventually lose its silvery sheen and develop a unique patina, as shown above.
When Corrosion Occurs
A little bit of rust is no cause for alarm. I you find corrosion on a carbon blade, the simplest solution is to scrub the spot with the rough side of a sponge. Then rub the spot with a little cooking oil. It may leave behind a darker coloration on the blade, but it will be rust-free and ready to cut.
A more advanced method is the renowned Rust Eraser from Japan. It is available from Chukyokenma.
A Brief Aside on Wooden Handles
Many of our knives are made with natural wood handles. As a rule of thumb, these handles are not water-proof. Never soak them or leave them sitting in the sink, as they will become waterlogged and the wood will split. If you have colorful painted handles, excessive exposure to moisture can result in dulling, and cause the finish to peel. Never put wood handles in the dishwasher. F&F assumes no responsibility for damage resulting from misuse or improper care.
Notes on SharpeningWe confess that we are not experts in this particular practice. With our own cutlery, we leave the job of sharpening to a local expert, chef Sam Daigle, who owns and operates Brunoise MPLS. If you looking for blade sharpening services here in the Twin Cities, we highly recommend his work. If you are not local, we recommend seeking out someone like him, because a fine blade is a terrible to waste.
If you are interested in sharpening your own blades, we do offer a small range of French whetstones—quarried in the Pyrenees between France and Spain—for sale on our site. You can find our natural whetstones here:
L'Ideale — La Royale — Speciale Laguiole
At the risk of seeming as if we are shirking responsibility, we highly recommend seeking out a good instructor on Youtube in order learn how to properly use a whetstone, and to see various techniques in action. That being said, here are some basic rules for sharpening your own knives:
- For best results, soak your stone for before use to prevent "clogging"
- Fasten the stone using a clamp, or place it on a damp kitchen towel so it doesn't slip or slide while sharpening
- Hold the blade at the correct angle (15° to 20°) and work to maintain the angle throughout the sharpening process
- Apply consistent pressure as you stroke the blade towards you, then flip the blade and make the same number of strokes on the reverse side.
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