Keeping Carbon in Good Condition
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 maybe you're trying to decide?
Whatever brought you here, 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.
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!
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.