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Ceramic Knives: Are They Real Or A Novelty?

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It’s no secret that the best investment you can make to really big up your cooking game is a quality knife. Knives are the workhorse of the kitchen, and they’re good for so many jobs. A good knife will make home cooking more enjoyable because it will lighten the load of preparing your food and make it easier and quicker to get everything ready before you begin cooking. 

But with so many knives out there on the market, what is a home cook to do when it comes to the plethora of knife options that are laid before our eyes? There are certainly pros and cons to all sort of knives, but what about ceramic knives? Are they just another home kitchen fade? 

What Are Ceramic Knives?

Ceramic knives have grown in popularity in recent years, due to their super-sharp blades, ease of use, and affordability. Ceramic knives really are made from ceramic, just not the kind you’d find in a coffee mug. The most common type of ceramic for knives is zirconium oxide, which is also known as zirconia. It’s very hard — significantly harder than stainless steel or carbon steel. It won’t rust, and it doesn’t absorb smells. All of these reasons make it a popular choice for the discerning home cook looking to purchase a new knife. 

ceramic knives

The Pros Of A Ceramic Knife 

  • Sharpness: The beauty of ceramic knives is that they are very sharp, AND they really don’t ever need to be sharpened. You can use this knife over and over again, and because of the strength of the ceramic blade, it will never dull. Steel knives, on the other hand, do dull over time and need to be sharpened regularly to keep an edge that is worth using. The more you use your knife, the more you will need to sharpen it. 
  • Weight: Many people who swear by ceramic knives love to talk up how feather-light they are, which is true. Ceramic knives are some of the lightest knives you’ll ever find. If you’re one who chops lots of fruit or soft vegetables (say, lettuces for salads) then a ceramic knife will really save your arm and wrist some real wear and tear.  
  • Odour Absorption: Some steel knives can become discoloured through use, and even absorb strong odours from the foods you’re working with (think garlic or tomatoes). Not ceramic though. Ceramic will stay looking clean and smelling fresh (that is, smelling neutral) no matter what you use it on. This is a huge benefit, particularly if you love cooking with aromatics like garlic, ginger, or chilli.  
  • Price: Compared to some of their steal cousins, ceramic knives can be a downright bargain. Why pay over £100 for a steel knife when you can get a brand-new ceramic knife for about half the price? It just makes sense, from a price perspective, to go with ceramic. 

Cons Of A Ceramic Knife 

  • Speciality Sharpening Required: Steel knives can be sharpened at home simply by investing in a cheap stationary knife sharpened or sharpening steel. Ceramic knives will always have to be sent out to a specialized knife sharpening professional, setting you back some serious money to keep your knives in tip-top shape. You won’t have to service your ceramic knives regularly (maybe once every 1-2 years), but to do so is certainly a hassle. 
  • Can Be Brittle: The hardness of a ceramic knife can certainly be a pro, but because ceramic can be brittle, it can break more easily if you happen to drop it on the floor. And definitely don’t use the tip of your ceramic knife to open that tin of tomatoes (unless you like to break the tips off your perfectly good knives).  
  • Weight: Due to the lightness of ceramic knives, if you’re needing to chop heartier things, such as root vegetables, nuts & seeds, or meats, a may want to rethink the ceramic knife. If your meal prep includes things that are harder to break down, skip the ceramic. 
  • Versatility: Ceramic knives are good for small jobs, or for cutting through lots of soft foods. Beyond that, they just aren’t very useful. Need to break down a whole chicken into parts? Ceramic can’t cut through bones. Is the family holiday meal at your house, and you’re making 10 kilos of roast potatoes? You better reach for a steel knife. 

So Are Ceramic Knives For Real? 

Ceramic knives are great for people who want a lightweight, super-sharp, easy to clean knife to cut and chopping soft foods daily. They are certainly good at chopping garlic and ginger for your curry, slicing up all that kale for a salad, or even finishing the spring onions and soft herbs for garnishing for your bowl of soup. They are useful for specific jobs, and if you want a fun to use and cool looking new knife, I say go for it. Just know that ceramic knives are not a replacement for your workhorse steel knife anytime soon. Some things just work, because they are time-tested, and favoured by generations of cooks. Steel knives are one of those things. Happy cooking, and we’ll see you in the kitchen. 

David Rice
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