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I put my ceramic knives in the dishwasher


Dave the Cook
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In the discussion about Chad Ward's excellent book An Edge in the Kitchen, I told how I replaced an expensive knife with a Kyocera parer for citrus-cutting purposes. My roommate (aka my mom) kept borrowing it for her own purposes, such as cutting up the dog's daily chicken ration. I am basically lazy, and hunting down the stray, then washing and drying it became too much of a burden, so I got a second. The dog's knife lives in the block next to the sink, and the citrus knife has its abode in the tray where I keep my other cocktail hardware, and all three of us are happy.

One day I realized that I would never send these knives back to Japan for sharpening. When they became too dull, I'd just replace them. I'm far from rich, but it's not worth the trouble and postage for a $30 knife. Laziness is self-perpetuating, and now I've descended further down that slippery slope: I run them through the dishwasher. I figure I'm shortening their lives by a few months, but 1) given their brittleness, there's a good chance one or both will break before they go dull; 2) if I get two years' use (or 730 chicken thighs + countless lemons, limes and grapefruits), I'll be satisfied -- and I'll have saved many hours (okay, maybe many minutes, but still) of hand washing.

But will I go to culinary hell for this? And if I do, will I have company? Do you, too, subject to your dishwasher things that you shouldn't?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Yes, you will go to culinary hell, where you'll meet all the people you actually want to hang out with.

Seriously, ceramic knives are basically a disposable commodity, as you've discovered. Do what you will ... maybe try not to drop them on a tile floor. If they suit your working / shopping style then who cares. Just don't spend a lot on them.

Notes from the underbelly

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I've reached the same conclusion about ceramic knives as you but my solution is less devil-may-care to the point of annoying obsession. I agree that it isn't worth trying to get them resharpened. I've never had one that got seriously dull before it broke, but I do try to keep them from breaking as long as possible. The risk of breaking a ceramic knife seems to increase with the number of people handling it. I find that if I allow no one in my house to use the ceramic knife but me, and allow no one else to wash it, the chances of long life are increased. I wash and dry my ceramic knife right after use, and stow it quickly in the wooden knife holder so my husband or daughter (if she is home from college) have no reason to touch it. Ever. And if it breaks I have only myself to blame. One great advance by Kyocera was the production of the curved tip, making them less likely to chip.

As for testing the limits of a dishwasher, I never put knives in the dishwasher, except for regular stainless flatware. My MIL has the bad habit of throwing wood-handled knives and other utensils into the dishwasher, and it drives my husband wild.

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What is it you are afraid will happen to the knives?

If they are ceramic, they have certainly been subjected to higher heat,

and there is also little likelihood they will suffer chemical damage from the detergent.

Careful placement within the silverware rack would minimize risk of edge chipping.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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In case anyone gets the wrong idea, the penalty for putting a good quality steel knife in the dishwasher isn't Culinary Hell ... you get inducted as an intern on the Sandra Lee show. Forever.

Thank you, LMAO, I needed that this evening!

-Doc

"Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on." ~George Bernard Shaw

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FWIW, Kyocera now makes a sharpener for ceramic knives. It actually has double slots--one for regular knives and the other for ceramic.

I don't have a dishwasher unless you count me, but if I did, I don't think I'd put knives in it even if I could. It takes so little time to wash them and put them away, anyway.

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you get inducted as an intern on the Sandra Lee show. Forever.

Ouch! I hope you never get promoted to devil! :blink:

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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The main risk TO a CERAMIC knife would be to its handle.

Metal knives will also suffer accelerated corrosion to the sharpened edge (apart from anything else like the metal having been worked) there's a lightning conductor effect with the sharp edge - remember that corrosion is an electrochemical process.

But that ain't a problem with ceramic.

Then there's the slight risk of chipping by jostling...

However, blade up, its a danger to the machine filler-and-emptier, and blade down, the plastic cutlery basket will suffer in time.

But ceramic knives CAN be very cheap. My parer was about £6 (under $10).

I wonder if they are likely to get so cheap that they become a disposable item for the average kitchen, rather than a treasured foodie possession?

In the dishwasher - does anyone actually wash (non-meat) FoodSaver bags? Instructions say you can, but I've not thought that they seemed to clean that well, and all those tiny channels look like great places for nasties to hide.

And to turn things around, Magimix food processor bowls are said to be OK in the dishwasher, but they certainly lose their clarity, and its my interpretation that they become more easily cracked. So I never put them in the machine. They are made of polycarbonate, which I know to be embrittled by various chemicals, so for me, they are hand wash only.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Putting knives in the dishwasher will land you in the 1st ring of hell where you will be blown about in an enternal wind, knocked about by dis-colored and cracked bits of food processor bowls and ill-fated lovers. (Ill fated lovers being the traditional inhabitants of the 1st ring, they are not very happy to be sharing space with Dishwasher Offenders.)

Yes, the danger is to the handle, and to those who stack & empty. But... if you pay more money, you get harder ceramic, it resists chipping and can stand up to being dropped. It's one of those things were paying more actually gets you a better product.

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Putting knives in the dishwasher will land you in the 1st ring of hell where you will be blown about in an enternal wind, knocked about by dis-colored and cracked bits of food processor bowls and ill-fated lovers. (Ill fated lovers being the traditional inhabitants of the 1st ring, they are not very happy to be sharing space with Dishwasher Offenders.)

That I can handle, it's not nearly as scary and evil sounding as what paulraphael threatened.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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  • 12 years later...
On 10/21/2009 at 2:05 PM, Dave the Cook said:

In the discussion about Chad Ward's excellent book An Edge in the Kitchen, I told how I replaced an expensive knife with a Kyocera parer for citrus-cutting purposes. My roommate (aka my mom) kept borrowing it for her own purposes, such as cutting up the dog's daily chicken ration. I am basically lazy, and hunting down the stray, then washing and drying it became too much of a burden, so I got a second. The dog's knife lives in the block next to the sink, and the citrus knife has its abode in the tray where I keep my other cocktail hardware, and all three of us are happy.

One day I realized that I would never send these knives back to Japan for sharpening. When they became too dull, I'd just replace them. I'm far from rich, but it's not worth the trouble and postage for a $30 knife. Laziness is self-perpetuating, and now I've descended further down that slippery slope: I run them through the dishwasher. I figure I'm shortening their lives by a few months, but 1) given their brittleness, there's a good chance one or both will break before they go dull; 2) if I get two years' use (or 730 chicken thighs + countless lemons, limes and grapefruits), I'll be satisfied -- and I'll have saved many hours (okay, maybe many minutes, but still) of hand washing.

But will I go to culinary hell for this? And if I do, will I have company? Do you, too, subject to your dishwasher things that you shouldn't?

 

I found this thread searching for why I am missing many pages from Chad Ward's book.  That still remains a mystery.  But I beg to comment on my Kyocera knife.  I use no other blade in my battery more often.*  As my son** says, it will always be sharp no matter how many pieces it is in.

 

As far as I remember it is illegal to send knives to Japan, which obviates the return for sharpening problem.  Still, who would put a Japanese knife with an exquisite wood handle through the dishwasher?  Ceramic or not.  I don't wash the Kyocera, I just lightly rinse it between uses.

 

 

*so far I calculate four to five thousand limes, several lemons, and a grapefruit or two in season.

 

**the son with the degree in ceramic engineering.

 

 

 

 

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Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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I posted that about 12-1/2 years ago. Since then, the price of the knife I linked to has dropped to 20 bucks, making my decision to treat it as disposable even easier. We're now on our second set of ceramics (two 3-inchers and one 4-1/2-inches, allowing for dishwasher rotation and easier splitting of the occasional grapefruit). They (and their predecessors) are always treated respectfully -- in their own section of the silverware basket on our old dishwasher, and in their own slot on the silverware rack in the new dishwasher. They don't have exquisite wood handles, they have colorful resin handles.

 

As I said, this is our second set. We didn't purchase this set because the old ones broke. We purchased them because, despite the prediction of ceramic engineers, the first set got dull. I'm guessing that in about 2030, after ten years of being subjected to automatic dishwashers, this set will need replacing, too. I'm okay with that.

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Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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56 minutes ago, Dave the Cook said:

I posted that about 12-1/2 years ago. Since then, the price of the knife I linked to has dropped to 20 bucks, making my decision to treat it as disposable even easier. We're now on our second set of ceramics (two 3-inchers and one 4-1/2-inches, allowing for dishwasher rotation and easier splitting of the occasional grapefruit). They (and their predecessors) are always treated respectfully -- in their own section of the silverware basket on our old dishwasher, and in their own slot on the silverware rack in the new dishwasher. They don't have exquisite wood handles, they have colorful resin handles.

 

As I said, this is our second set. We didn't purchase this set because the old ones broke. We purchased them because, despite the prediction of ceramic engineers, the first set got dull. I'm guessing that in about 2030, after ten years of being subjected to automatic dishwashers, this set will need replacing, too. I'm okay with that.

I always have one ceramic knife on hand. They do get duller, if you are lucky, before the blade breaks. Although I don't see the usual reasons for not putting this knife in the dishwasher  (the usual reason for me would be wooden handles) I just don't put any sharp knives in the dishwasher. I don't believe the dishwasher would be the culprit for you; daily use just dulls these ceramic tools. They are certainly not knives meant to last like good steel that can be sharpened. The one chore that I routinely use it for is mincing garlic because the blade is so thin.

 

 

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