There exist a number of variations of the global chef knife. Of all these variations, the largest classification or division is based on the material of the blade. Primarily, either carbon or stainless steel is used to manufacture the blade. While ‘real chefs’ are said to prefer carbon steel knives, those who are casual cooks like to go with stainless steel knives. If you’re looking forward to buying a global chef knife set, you ought to acquaint yourself with the differences between the two and the factors that must be considered before buying one.
The hardness of a knife is measured on the Rockwell Scale. The higher the hardness of a knife, the lesser the wear and tear on the knife’s edge. Carbon steel knives are known for their exceptional hardness while stainless knives are made of a softer metal. This implies more wear and tear on stainless steel knives vis-a-vis that on carbon steel knives (though regular use of any knife will dull it’s blade’s edge over time). But since carbon steel is more brittle than stainless steel, carbon steel knife must not be dropped from a significant height; otherwise it is likely to lose its edge.
The parameters for measuring the performance of knives are how well and for how long can a knife optimally cut food. Since the parameter ‘how long’ is related to the hardness of the knife, therefore, one half of a knife’s performance is a function of its hardness. Again, since the parameter ‘how well’ is related to the angle of the blade edge (a smaller edge angle passes through food easily as compared to a bigger edge angle), therefore, the other half is the function of the angle of the blade edge. Let’s deal with both the parameters one by one.
- Carbon steel knives, being made of harder metal, will hold their original edge far longer than stainless steel knives (made of softer metal).
- Owing to the use of finer grain steel, carbon steel blades usually have a smaller angle edge than their stainless counterparts.
Though stainless steel knives lack in durability and performance, in the maintenance department, they are a step ahead of carbon steel knives. Known for its easy maintenance, stainless steel is rust- as well as stain-resistant, thanks to the use of a shiny, brittle chemical element known as Chromium. That means you’ve never got to worry whether you leave your stainless steel knife on the counter or throw it in the sink or dishwasher.
Carbon steel, on the other hand, doesn’t make use of Chromium and thus carbon steel is liable to stain and corrode without prompt cleaning and care.
Generally, carbon steel kitchen knives are more expensive than stainless steel kitchen knives, though there are a lot of exceptions. However, with a number of ultra-popular stainless steel budget knives available in the market, their affordability vis-a-vis carbon steel knives cannot be denied.
The final judgment
For those of you who value performance and durability more than the cost and maintenance, carbon steel knives are the way to go. However, if all you want is a sharp blade that will not burn a hole in your pocket, you’ve got plenty of options amongst stainless steel global chef knives.
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