What is more ironic than having rust on stainless steel knives?! Don’t we buy stainless steel things because they promise to not rust? Apparently, the term Stainless is just a marketing trick that refers to iron alloyed with Chromium and other stuff like Nickel to make steel highly resistant to rust. I understand why its inventors went with Stainless Steel for a name instead of something like Highly-Resistant-to-Rust Steel. Stainless is way catchier and way more marketable.
Broken promises aside, what do you do when your stainless knives start to rust? Is there any saving your precious knives, or are they condemned to crumble to the all-consuming red-orange dust that is rust? Luckily, our knives are not doomed. There are several practical methods for removing rust, so we can bring back the Stainless in our stainless steel knives.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Stainless Steel Knives
Now that we know that stainless steel knives rust, we can follow some sort of guideline and expect our stainless knives to be spotless and rust-free. The following is a short Dos and Don’ts List for keeping your knives stainless, spotless, and sharp.
- Wipe your kitchen knives clean after washing.
- Clear out any visible buildup of dirt on your knife’s blade.
- Store your knives in a cool, dry place. Use a knife block or a magnetic knife rack. These specialized knife holders prevent rust from forming in the first place.
- Sharpen your knife blades regularly. This way, you will be able to see if there is any rust buildup on your stainless steel blades.
- Don’t leave or store your knives wet. Water is our number one enemy in the war against rust.
- Avoid scratching your knife with steel wool. Scratches remove the outer protective layer of Chromium and Nickel that makes your knife highly resistant to rust.
- Don’t lend out your kitchen knife. Other people may not give the same care you bestow your stainless steel knife.
- Don’t leave your knives outdoors. Sometimes you use your kitchen knife for an outdoor barbecue or use them in the garden to be forgotten outside and lo-and-behold! After some days, you find them rusted and dull! Outdoor conditions can be very harsh and can rapidly harm your kitchen knife.
Techniques to Free your Knives of Rust
It is not the end of the world when your stainless steel knives rust! These practical methods that use everyday household items will guarantee that your knives will get back to being the sharp, shiny stainless wonders they once were. Remove rust and other buildups from your knife with these simple techniques:
The Lemon Juice Technique
Yes, ordinary lemons! Lemons not just make refreshing lemon juice; they also effectively fight rust.
- Make a paste of equal parts of lemon juice and baking soda.
- Completely cover the rusty parts of your knife.
- Leave for 30 minutes.
- Wipe off lemon-soda paste and rust from your knife. Rinse and dry your knife with a towel.
Baking Soda Paste Technique
The simplest method in the rust-removal book, this technique uses only two ingredients: baking soda and water!
- Mix baking soda and water to create a thick paste you will be covering your rusted stainless steel blade with.
- Leave the paste on the blade for a good 30 minutes.
- Using a clean cloth, rub the paste on your blade in a circular motion as if to buff and clean it.
- Finally, use a damp paper towel to clean the knife and reveal its new rust-free blade.
Cream of Tartar Technique
- Squeeze several drops of lemon juice onto a teaspoon of cream of tartar to create a paste.
- Rub the paste with a sponge all over your knife and leave for 30 minutes.
- Wipe off the paste with your sponge, rinse with water, and dry your knife with a towel.
The Oxalic Acid Technique AKA the Ultimate Technique
If your stainless steel knife is in some state of ultimate rust, then it’s time to bust out the big guns! The “Big Daddy” of rust removal techniques! Oxalic acid is your only salvation now. Act fast and save your dear knife from certain dullness!
- Smear a generous quantity of metal cleaner that contains oxalic acid onto the rusted section of your knife.
- Let the cleaner sit for around 5 minutes.
- Rub the cleaner vigorously on your knife with a soft damp sponge.
- Wash your knife with a mild soap, rinse with water and dry your knife with a towel.
Maintenance is Key
You now know how to remove rust from stainless steel knives. Rescue all your rusting knives and keep your stainless knives stainless by following the Dos and Don’ts of rust-free knives.
Gary Portman is the founder and main author of knivesadvice.com Using the knowledge he has gained through the years, he aims to help people choose the best knife based on their needs. You can find more info about Gary here.