The Best Knife Rust Prevention

You and your knife can have a high maintenance relationship if you don’t take care of it properly.  The worst thing that can happen to any owner of a knife is to let the blade rust. Many would make the argument that their knife is stainless or carbon steel and therefore is unable to rust. However, don’t be fooled, any knife can rust given the right conditions.

Even though stainless steel blades minimize the effects of weathering conditions such as wetness and oxidation, they must still be properly taken care of.  Most older knives and some newer ones use carbon steel rather than stainless. Keep in mind, carbon steel is more susceptible to the elements that cause rust and will need extra care to prevent rust from forming along the blade.  Why do you want to prevent rust? We all know what rust is and what it looks like, but do you know what kind of damage it can do to your knife? To understand how to properly prevent rust, you must first understand its precedent, discoloration. When the knife begins to discolor and appear blue/grey/black color it is a sign of oxidation, which mean rust will form soon. With stainless steel knives, discoloration is common, but it often provides a barrier against oxidation unlike carbon steel. To prevent rust when you begin to see discoloration, clean your knife immediately and regularly.  Regular cleaning with soap, water, and oil will take care of any oxidation on your blade.

Never let rust form because it will eat away pits into the blade causing it to contaminate anything it cuts.  Light rust along your blade can be cleaned with oil, but heavier rust needs to be cleaned more aggressively with a professional cleaner, polish, or plastic cleaning pad that will provide the abrasive action to properly clean your knife.

With knowing and understanding how rust forms on knives, rust prevention is pretty simple.  It always starts with cleaning. Cleaning your blade is the most significant way to prevent rust on your knife. It’s good practice to properly clean and dry your knife after each use. You don’t need a fancy cleaner or oil, just a little soap and water. As an alternative you can use a solvent like acetone or nail polish remover, but be careful to not destroy the handle of your blade. Not properly cleaning your blade will provide prolonged exposure to the elements that can cause your knife to rust.  

The next step to properly taking care of your knife is lubrication.  Periodically, after cleaning your knife, apply a small amount of lubricant to the working parts of your knife, and then layer the entire surface of the blade. This will prevent oxidation and deterioration from moisture to take place by creating a barrier between the surface of the blade and the elements in the air. Finally, do not store your blade in its leather sheath. Leather collects moisture and provides the perfect condition for rust. Be sure to keep your knives in a dry, safe place.

In conclusion, the best knife rust prevention is proper cleaning, lubrication, and storage. Knives are one of the best functional tools a person can own, which is why they should be cared for appropriately.  Always practice safety and keep your blade clean of rust. And remember to keep your knife sharpened; a dull blade can be more dangerous than a sharp one.