At Element Knife Company we believe the care and quality of your tools should match the depth of your enthusiasm for cooking. Just as you would cook with the best quality ingredients you should cook with the best quality tools. Take pride and care in your tools and knives, and they will take care of you. Always use them for their intended purpose, and if you feel like you shouldn’t do something with your knife, then simply don’t do it—they are not hammers to hack at coconuts, plastic containers or bones.
On the go or in your kitchen, organizing and protecting your investments is important. Everyone's kitchen spaces and needs are different. Learn about edge guards, knife rolls & bags, magnetic strips, knife blocks, and in-drawer options.
Knife Guards come in different styles. Some cover the blade by inserting it from the end. Others slip over the knife from the edge. They can be made from an array of materials like plastic, wood, and leather. Protecting the knife's edge is important when placing knives into chef rolls or knife bags. This keeps the sharp edges from banging around and protects fingers as well as damage to the bags. Furthermore, if knives are going to be stored in a drawer without an in-drawer knife organizer, it's a good idea to put edge guards over them.
Knife luggage comes in a variety of options, Rolls, Bags & Backpacks. These are great options for people on the go. Always protect your fingers, knives, and luggage with knife guards.
Magnetic Wall Strips
Magnetic wall strips are a great way to showcase and store your cutlery. Wall-mounted storage can save counter space too. When removing a knife from the magnet, it is recommended to gently twist the handle, bringing the cutting edge of the knife away from the strip first. Then the knife will come away easily. This avoids scratching your knives if the magnet or metal is exposed. Sometimes the magnets are covered in leather or hidden within wood. This order of operations will also help keep the leather or wood from cuts and scratches. When placing a knife onto the magnet, ever so slightly turn the knife's spine toward the strip first. This will keep the knife's cutting edge from hitting the strip directly.
Knife Blocks come in several sizes, styles, and orientations. They can have magnets or, more traditionally, slots for the knife's blade to fit into. Some claim that traditional blocks with slots can dull your knives. This is technically true to a small degree but not necessarily to a noticeable extent. The bigger concerns are these slots can harbor bacteria and germs. It is always suggested to put knives away, washed and completely dried.
In-drawer knife blocks are a great way to organize your cutlery and help open counter space. They keep the blades from banging against one another or other utensils. Always put knives away clean and dry, so the slots don't breed germs and bacteria.
Knife Care - The Basics
Just as you would cook with the best quality ingredients you should cook with the best quality tools. Take pride and care in your tools and knives, and they will take care of you. Always use them for their intended purpose, and if you feel like you shouldn’t do something with your knife, then simply don’t do it—they are not hammers and screwdrivers to hack at or pry at hard items.
People often ask “Which is better, carbon steel or stainless steel knives?” This is a relative question, and is not a matter of which one is better, but rather a question of preference.
High-Carbon and Semi-Stainless Knives
High-carbon steel knives are reactive to anything that has an acidic pH, and are prone to rust. The blades will spot and stain forming a patina. This patina, which is a light layer of oxidization, can can be polished. Although, it is recommended to cultivate the patina. A healthy patina will help act as a protectant againt rust. Furthermore, as the patina developes, it gives the knife a unique beauty.
Depending on the alloy, carbon knives will rust at varying rates. It is important to wipe the blade dry during heavy use and after washing. If rust forms, it is important to remove it quickly. Avoid heavy abrasives like metal scouring pads or the abrasive side of a sponge which can deeply scratch the carbon blade and create a place for water to sit which will promote heavy rust and potentially leave permanent damage.
Never put the knife through a dishwasher. This can damage the handle or make the blade come loose. When storing carbon steel knives, it is recommended to use a light coat of Tsubaki oil, mineral oil. These fod safe oils will not get tacky when exposed to air for long periods of time and will not turn rancid.
For steel to be considered stainless, it must have a minimum of 13% chromium. Whatever the alloy recipe, stainless steels can all rust with the right conditions. Simply explained and why it is important, is that the added chromium bonds with oxygen from the air, creating chromium oxide. Essentialy a clear hard "skin" that sticks to steel. If this skin is damaged ie; scouring pads, then the exposed steel can rust before the skin repairs its self, which takes abouit 24 hours. Another reason to never put any knife into a dishwasher, or allow to drip dry. Furthermore, the high heat and water jetting conditions will wreak havoc on the handle. Typically, stainless knives require less care since they don't easily rust.
Commonly asked questions about edge retention and frequency of sharpening are relative questions. More accurately, let’s look at how the knife is being handled. Is the cutting surface a hard plastic or softer wood? Is the knife being used more for vegetables or for fish and meat butchery? What is the HR Rockwell hardness of the blade? Is the blade edge being maintained properly and on a regular schedule? Is the chosen edge angle a wider European or thinner Japanese edge angle? Is the sharpening stone of good quality? Is the sharpening stone itself being taken care of and flattened? Each of these points is important to the overall care and edge retention of your cutlery.
Knife Care Recommendations - Dos and Don'ts
For professional kitchens, we recommend using a softer cutting board made from a polyvinyl acetate. This material resembles the softer texture of wood and will aid in edge retention. Other cutting board materials such as soft polyethylene plastic are suggested as well.
For home use, top-grain and end-grain wood boards are preferred because they are softer. Also, softer or rubberized plastic boards are good. In commercial kitchens, wood cutting boards are often not allowed by local health departments.
Never cut on these surfaces:
- Very hard plastic
Bamboo cutting boards - Choose your battle here. Although cost friendly and environmentally sound, they are very hard. The harder the surface, the quicker the knife becomes dull.
Always maintain a sharp edge. The more frequently you sharpen your knife the less material you will grind away to bring the edge into a sharpened state. Ultimately, this means you will prolong the life of your knife. It is also safer to work with a sharp knife. A sharp blade also produces cleaner cuts which means better looking and more consistent prep work.
As mentioned earlier, never hack at coconuts, plastic containers or bones. These products will win when put up against your knife's delicate edge.
Never use the blade to pry at equipment or bones. Items such as jar lids, bone, or other hard object can chip the blade or snap off the tip. Knives are not designed to withstand shear force.
Never put a knife through a dishwasher. The high heat and high water pressure environment will wreak havoc on a knife's handle construction. Harsh and corrosive detergents can also promote rusting.
Whet stone vs Wet stone. The old-fashioned term for sharpening used to be called "whetting" so, any stone used for sharpening was a "whetstone". Technically, this is accurate, so whether the sharpening stones are diamond, or ceramic, or lubricated with oil or water, they are all ‘whet stones’.
We recommend ceramic water stones. They make for easy use and cleanup, do not require oil, and are affordable. They are also available in a broad range of grits that can handle everything from repairing to polishing a blade's edge. They are easily flattened, which is important, when sharpening to maintain an even edge. Never sharpen your knife on a stone that is uneven or warped.