• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

  • product-image-quickten.png.a40203b506711f7664fc62024e54a584.pngDid you know that these all-volunteer forums are operated by the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Society for Culinary Arts & Letters? This holiday season, consider a tax-deductible Quick Ten Bucks to support the eG Forums and help us remain completely advertising-free. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!

liuzhou

Ceramic Knives

31 posts in this topic

My favourite kitchen knife died last night. Snapped right across the tang. But it has served well. A suitable dignified exit ceremony shall be held. With full honours. It has chopped many a fine meal.

But now I need a replacement. I was wandering through the relevant stores today and, to be honest, their selection isn't great. But a couple were pushing their ceramic ranges. I decided to postpone purchase.

Many, many years ago I had a pair of ceramic scissors and they were cool. I worked in the recording industry and cutting magnetic tape (those were the days) with metal scissors wasn't helpful.

So, I thought to ask you guys for your opinions. Ceramic knives? Yes? No? Reservations?

(My initial impression was that they felt a bit too light for their dimensions.)


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sharp, but not resilient/strong is my impression. Fine for slicing tomatoes or delicate fish, but not great as a general purpose hacking, thumping, smashing, or heavy chopping knife. I need the weight of the knife to assist me with some jobs, and ceramic knives just don't deliver sufficient heft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a couple of ceramic knives for a while. Never liked them.

If you get one, you should also get a few diamond sharpening stones so that you can sharpen it. A pain to ship it back to the factory to sharpen.

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can get them really cheap but the fragility automatically rules them out. While wishing it were otherwise the kitchen is just not the place for ceramic knives until they will be able to withstand the abuse a traditional metal knife does.

I have a couple of ceramic knives for a while. Never liked them.

If you get one, you should also get a few diamond sharpening stones so that you can sharpen it. A pain to ship it back to the factory to sharpen.

dcarch

My impression is that they were originally touted as never needing sharpening but found this to be hardly credible. Not needed probably because they would break before needing sharpening! Good to hear someone with experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can't use a magnetic knife holder.

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use ceramic almost exclusively at home. They do need sharpening after a couple of years, save the manufacturer info and your receipt for a free sharpening. I found that my Kyocera knives were sharper to start with and overall better than some Swiss ones I got at Home Goods.

I like the lack of heft, it means that I can move more quickly and don't get tired, no sore wrists, with big, time consuming projects. The only time I use my steel knives is to cut really hard large items like raw butternut squash. Ceramics move through potatoes, fennel and most other veg just fine.

The blade is thinner, meaning that you get more accurate cuts. The knife moves very swiftly and you can cut much, much thinner slices without breaking the food. Yes, at first it feels like a plastic toy. But, it's as sharp as a razor and does most of the work for you.

I'd also like to point out that once I was being very foolish and cutting a few florets off a cauliflower while holding it in my hand and the knife slipped and I cut my finger, badly. (I saw bone.) I had things to do, and just wrapped the finger and kept going. The next day, I went to change the dressing and the cut was gone, healed without a scar, as if nothing had happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like Lisa I use ceramic knives exclusively and have done for around 5 years. They are not as fragile as you might think. I bought one for a friend who has 35 years experience of running his own restaurant and he agrees that while he has no problem keeping his steel knives sharp, the ceramic is a great convenience.

I understand some chefs don't like them because they consider them too light but for enthusiastic home use they are wonderful. The prices have dropped significantly in recent years, why not try a small general purpose knife, to be has in Europe for around 5 €, to see if they suit you.

Drops don't mean smashed knives, the only damage I caused was when I stuck the end into an avocado stone to remove it forgetting that my knife was ceramic! My fault entirely.

Good luck if you decide to give these knives a go!

Diana

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first, and only ceramic knife cost $50, which was cheap at the time. It was wonderful for slicing vegetables. I used it to cut meat off of a well cooked chicken. The edge chipped when I nicked the ribs.. I tried to be more careful, but had several more chips. It is still very sharp, but I rarely use it.

A few months ago, a local store was selling ceramic knives in a three pack for no more than $12. I was tempted. At that price, I would not be upset if I snapped the blade.

But I can get similar cuts w. a snap-off utility blade at full extension. Those cost very little. At this time, I'm not seeing much advantage to using ceramic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd also like to point out that once I was being very foolish and cutting a few florets off a cauliflower while holding it in my hand and the knife slipped and I cut my finger, badly. (I saw bone.) I had things to do, and just wrapped the finger and kept going. The next day, I went to change the dressing and the cut was gone, healed without a scar, as if nothing had happened.

I have a hard time believing that a laceration to the "bone" healed in less than 24 hours no matter how sharp the blade was. It is easy to misperceive anatomy and fingers are quite complex. My instinct is that you cut to the lowest level of your skin which is very thick in the area of the hands and one's fingers in particular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

liuzhou, what were you doing with your old kitchen knife that made it snap across the tang? I am sure that whatever it was, using a ceramic knife in its place will not help. As others have pointed out, ceramics are extremely fragile and are good for only one thing - cutting veggies. Oh yes, they are also incomparable for cutting jelly into little cubes.

Being Chinese, I am surprised you are not using a cleaver! I have been looking for a good one for years. I am still using the cheap cleaver I bought >20 years ago.


There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd also like to point out that once I was being very foolish and cutting a few florets off a cauliflower while holding it in my hand and the knife slipped and I cut my finger, badly. (I saw bone.) I had things to do, and just wrapped the finger and kept going. The next day, I went to change the dressing and the cut was gone, healed without a scar, as if nothing had happened.

I have a hard time believing that a laceration to the "bone" healed in less than 24 hours no matter how sharp the blade was. It is easy to misperceive anatomy and fingers are quite complex. My instinct is that you cut to the lowest level of your skin which is very thick in the area of the hands and one's fingers in particular.

I cut the top side of the intermediate phalanx of my left middle finger straight down the middle, from knuckle to knuckle. There isn't much there and the skin is fairly thin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd also like to point out that once I was being very foolish and cutting a few florets off a cauliflower while holding it in my hand and the knife slipped and I cut my finger, badly. (I saw bone.) I had things to do, and just wrapped the finger and kept going. The next day, I went to change the dressing and the cut was gone, healed without a scar, as if nothing had happened.

I have a hard time believing that a laceration to the "bone" healed in less than 24 hours no matter how sharp the blade was. It is easy to misperceive anatomy and fingers are quite complex. My instinct is that you cut to the lowest level of your skin which is very thick in the area of the hands and one's fingers in particular.

I cut the top side of the intermediate phalanx of my left middle finger straight down the middle, from knuckle to knuckle. There isn't much there and the skin is fairly thin.

Quite possibly you saw tendon and or fascia if you saw something white- when the skin splays open this is usually what you'll see. Bone doesn't appear white but a deep dark red. All very vascular. Luckily you did not require the services of a hand surgeon to fix a serious problem!

I too have been seeing inexpensive ceramic knives at the discount hardware stores. May be time to start experimenting with one...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ceramics are a love or hate thing, I think. I'm on the hate side. My brother swears by his.

In my experience, the edge chips far too easily. Furthermore, if shipping it to the company isn't an option (it isn't, for me) or you enjoy maintaining your own eq (which I do), you have to buy a set of diamond stones, which remain expensive, even if the knives themselves have dropped in price. This is especially true of the coarse stones, which makes the chipping issue even more problematic.To top it off, the stones are short lived compared to conventional stones of any type, even shorter if you distractedly put some weight behind the stroke or try to sharpen your steel knives on them, as the diamond particles tend to embed in the steel and get torn off their base.

Finally, I've never seen a ceramic with a real hair-whittling edge, although to be fair I haven't really tried to get one. I think the reasons people are enthusing about the sharpness of these things is because 1) they're comparing to a mediocre-to-awful factory edge on a steel knife and 2) ceramic knives -do- tend to be slimmer than most steel knives, which means less wedging. Good, slim steel knives are also available, though.

YMMV of course. I say get a cheap one and give it away if you don't like it.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Being Chinese, I am surprised you are not using a cleaver!

You are Chiinese?

I'm not.

My apologies, I thought you were. Yes I am Chinese (Cantonese, actually), but 3 generations out of China. I still think you should buy a cleaver ;)


There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Understandable mistake. I live in China, but I am not Chinese.

I still think you should buy a cleaver

I have a cleaver. In fact, I have two. But they aren't suitable for everything and it was my favourite cook's knife that broke. I think it was just old age or metal fatigue. I wasn't doing anything dramatic at the time. Just chopping mushrooms.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ceramic knives in my experience are far more robust than you might imagine! I've dropped mine on numerous occasions without causing damage. Mine are washed in a washing up machine and they live in my utensil drawer with all manner of stuff sharing the space. Certainly they are great for trimming meat, not for cutting through bone but yes for sinews etc. you are not restricted to veg!

I accept that I'm useless at sharpening steel blades. I've spent a small fortune in the past on high end steel knives but since discovering ceramics I keep just two steels, a boning knife and an old carbon steel bread knife given to me years ago.

I stand by my earlier suggestion, buy a small cheap ceramic and see what you think! I'm pretty sure Amazon offers all prices these days.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

several books on knifes and sharpening do not think they are as sharp and a good steel knife can be and are difficult to sharpen at home.

that said, with the Edge-Pro you can sharpen them with the diamond stones which you do not use for steel knives.

saying more I found a You-Tube vid made by a japanese fellow that sharpened them 'razor sharp' with very fine wet-dry sandpaper placed on a flat surface

but cant find the ref. :sad:


Edited by rotuts (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would think there are good or bad ceramic materials.

Chipping is not good for a knife, otherwise you will see tungsten carbide used in knife making.

High carbon steel is great for knives; it is used to cut tough metal. Very few things in your kitchen and refrigerator present a problem for steel knives.

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have one ceramic knife - it is extremely sharp and seems to hold its edge very well. With that said, it's so much lighter than metal knives it takes some getting used to. In the end I would go with metal knives just for the mental reassurance that I can sharpen them without requiring manufacturer's assistance, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I too have one ceramic knife. They are brittle and the points can easily break off if dropped, although the latest incarnations seem to have a rounded pointed end, if that isn't too weird to picture. I believe in buying cheap ceramic knives, partly because they can break, but also because it isn't worth the money to send them back to the manufacturer to be sharpened; you might as well just buy a new one every three years. And the cheap ones seem as sharp as the pricier ones. I use mine all the time. My husband has much scorn for it and is happy to sharpen our steel knives, although he rarely ever cooks anything, so at least they are passably maintained.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

lol...

One of my favorite knives is an 8" Chef's I bought at the local grocer for $8 last year... Basically indistinguishable from my Henckel International Fine Edge Pro knives but possibly containing more carbon. Once I put a little elbow into the sharpening it developed the hair shaving razor edge I was looking for. This is the same knife compared to what was available for 4 times the price 6 years ago. I figure the same forging process/factory(ies) just Chinese steel not imported German recipe.

This would have been unheard of 20 years ago. I was given the opportunity to take my recently dear departed parents 40yo Chicago ground edge knives last week and even sentimentality couldn't convince me to take keep them. Times have changed folks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting debate. My solution is to use both ceramic and steel knives.

I have two ceramics, a 4" paring type and a 7" which I use for fine slicing. They are fragile so aren't much good for chopping and need to be handled with care.

My German steel knives are great, but I guess I'm too lazy to spend a lot of time getting a super sharp edge and too cheap to buy the necessary equipment to do so. I just use a diamond impregnated steel and it keeps them sharp enough for most purposes. And, of course, they're rugged, and thus perfect for bashing, chopping & dicing.

For me having both types works perfectly/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.