What are Ceramic Knives?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Ceramic knives are built exactly like traditional steel knives. They, however, have a blade made of a very hard kind of ceramic. The ceramic used in the blades on ceramic knives is often zirconium dioxide. Because of the hardness of these types of blades, they stay sharper longer than steel knives do.

Ceramic knives are often carried by divers because they are not corroded by seawater.
Ceramic knives are often carried by divers because they are not corroded by seawater.

The hardness of the material is determined by the Mohs scale, which ranks the mineral hardness of a substance. The Mohs ranking of the type of blade material used in ceramic knives is 8.5. While diamonds, the hardest substances on the earth, rank at 10, steel blades usually only rank at 6 or 6.5.

Although ceramic knives are very sharp, they are also quite delicate and must be handled with care. If they are used improperly, they can shatter or crack. Simply dropping the knife from too high a distance can chip the ceramic blade. Furthermore, ceramic knives cannot be sharpened in the same way that most knives are. A normal sharpening tool will most likely chip or break a ceramic blade.

If you purchase a ceramic knife, it is important to make sure that you also acquire the special sharpening tool that they require if one does not come with your purchase. Even though ceramic knives are brittle in comparison to steel knives, they are not nearly as delicate as most other ceramic materials. This is because of the special type of ceramic material that is used to make them.

Ceramic knives are used by some chefs, but they have important purposes outside of the kitchen. Because ceramic material does not rust in salt water, they are often used by divers who require such underwater tools. Bomb squads also employ ceramic knives because they do not conduct electricity. Therefore, they make the very dangerous job of disassembling a bomb slightly less hazardous. In cooking, ceramic knives can be an important tool to people with certain allergies.

Some security specialists are wary of ceramic knives. As they can be made entirely without metal, the knives are not noted by metal detectors. There are some machines that can detect ceramic knives. These, however, are not in widespread use. Although the military has developed some ceramic knives that are made without an ounce of metal, most commercial manufacturers have been persuaded to include enough metal in the knives so as to set off metal detectors.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@ Istria- If you are considering a ceramic knife, then you should know the knifeā€™s limitations, and care for it in the appropriate way. I have had a set of Japanese Ceramic knives for years and they are still like brand new. I have the special sharpener for the knives, and I keep all of them in knife sleeves.

They are fragile, so you would not want to use them to bone a ham or a cut of beef. They are great though for jobs that require sharpness and precision. I use ceramics for all of my garnishing, for cutting thick-skinned fruits and vegetables, and for preparing sushi. Ceramic knives are also great for slicing delicate meats like fish and for making things like veal ceviche. They are great to add to a personal knife collection, but they will not be the best barbecue knives or knives for general kitchen staff.


@ istria- I haven't bought any ceramic knives recently so I am not sure about their quality now, but I had a couple of Kyocera ceramic knives a few years back and they both broke within the first year. The knives were great because they were extremely sharp, but they chipped in my knife drawer. If you are concerned with your money, then I would say buy a more useful knife rather than a novelty like a ceramic knife.


Are ceramic kitchen knives better than steel kitchen knives?

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