Carbon vs Stainless Steel Knives – Which One Should You Get?

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You may have noticed that there are both carbon steel and stainless steel knives. However, you may not know which one is better or even yet which one is a better option for your cooking style. Well, that is why we are here. We are going to look at both features of carbon steel and stainless steel knives and see which one is better and what purpose they have. Let’s settle the Carbon VS Stainless Steel knives debate!

Carbon Steel Knife

Yoshihiro Mizu Yaki Aogami Super Blue High Carbon Steel Kurouchi Petty Utility Knife (6'' (150mm) & Saya)What does it mean? The build quality

Before getting into details, we first must go over what steel is. This will make a lot of things much clearer as we go. So, if you don’t know, steel is made of both iron and some small amount of carbon. In other words, it makes it an alloy. Now, an alloy is made from two different elements and sometimes more than two. Except, one or more elements need to be metallic because it makes the item better than it was made from other elements that go into it.

So what makes the steel is the combination of iron with a little bit of carbon. So, in other words, any sort of steel, be it carbon or stainless one needs to have at least a little bit of carbon. It’s important to keep in mind that all kinds of steel have carbon in it. The only difference is that some have less and some more carbon. In this case, a carbon steel knife has a high amount of carbon.

When it comes to Carbon Steel knives, they usually have a material weight between 0.6% to 1%, and sometimes it can even reach 2.5%. If it happens to be higher than that, the result is usually the powder metallurgy. The power metallurgy is where steel is a result of powder and not made by melting. Such a type of knife is usually pretty expensive and can be found in high-quality pocket knives.

Should you be interested, you can check our comparison between Japanese and German knives or Bokashi knives review.

The advantages of a carbon steel knife

You may wonder what makes it better to have a carbon steel knife at home. Well, the benefit of having a carbon steel knife is because it is much more durable. That is because the high carbon means that the steel is much harder. That’s probably the biggest advantage of having one. One can measure the hardness on the Rockwell scale, which will show you the strength of the knife in general.

Naturally, if the blade has a high amount of carbon, it is going to be much harder and stronger than the ones with a lower amount. But everything comes with a downside, so this type of knife does too. A carbon steel knife is more likely to break and to chip. That is because the blade of such a knife is a lot more brittle. It also requires a lot of sharpening because it doesn’t hold an edge for a long period of time. Also, it is more likely to rust as it has low resistance to it. Although, a lot of it can be avoided if you care about your knife properly.

A carbon steel knife is a lot of time used for combat and for hunting. You will notice that those knives have a really high amount of carbon. That is because one can sharpen them very easily to the point that it is extremely sharp. They are also quite strong, so they can be used for hunting. If one decides to use stainless steel for the same activities, they will need to replace it much more quickly.

For more of our reviews, have a look at best Nakiri knives in 2021 or our review on Forever Sharp knives.

Stainless Steel Knife

Ozeri 5 Piece Knife and Sharpener Set with Japanese Stainless Steel Slotted Blades, Stainless Steel

So, as one may see, stainless steel knives still have a little bit of carbon in them, just like the carbon steel knives. The stainless steel knives only have a distinctly less amount of it. Another difference is that the stainless steel knives also have chromium. Chromium is what makes the stainless knife have a silvery sheen and be resistant to tarnishing. Chromium also has a high melting point. This is also why the stainless steel knife is more rust-resistant.

This also means that the stainless steel knife will last you for a much longer time than a carbon steel knife. But of course, there are always downsides. Stainless steel knives are more malleable and springy and aren’t very brittle. This makes such knives more likely to deform and makes them much harder to sharpen.

Stainless steel knives, however, are less likely to chip and break. This means that their edge can hold for much longer in comparison to carbon steel knives. Of course, eventually, all iron will rust, but stainless steel knives can last you for a much longer time before they do. A lot of exposure humidity or water will make any iron rust much quicker. And, that’s especially if you don’t take proper care of it.


When it comes to usage, stainless steel knives are generally much more versatile. These knives are great for those people who have to expose a knife to moisture a lot. So, this makes the stainless knives great for fishing as well as cooking. They will also come in handy for those that live near the sea. It is also great for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time taking care of their knives. Stainless steel knives are much more low-maintenance.

Carbon steel knives may have a much sharper edge, but they are more ideal for professional cooks. For a regular cook and for your household, a better option is a stainless steel knife because it is much more low-maintenance.


All in all, it doesn’t matter which one is better because there is no real winner. The only important thing is what you need a knife for. If you are a regular person who doesn’t want to maintain a knife a lot, then stainless steel knives are a great option for you. However, carbon steel knives are much sharper but require a lot more maintenance. But, they are a much better option for professional cooks and for hunters.

For similar articles, have a look at ceramic vs. steel knives review or how to use a santoku knife guide.

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