Different Types of Stainless Steel; What’s Best for Kitchen Knives?


You might think that shopping for kitchen knives wouldn’t come with a lot of considerations; as long as it’s sharp and cuts through food, it’s good, right? Well, yes, there is a degree of truth in that statement but the sharpness and performance of the knife are largely linked to the type of material from which it is made.

Almost every kitchen knife features a stainless steel blade but there are different types of stainless steel, and each has its pros and cons. In this guide, we will be discussing the different types of stainless steel and finding out which is best for your kitchen knife collection.

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Best Types of Stainless Steel for Kitchen Knives

Reading up on types of stainless steel can be a headache-inducing task. The various stainless steels have some pretty confusing names and this can leave you feeling as though you’ve just left a high school science class. But don’t panic! We’ve listed the names of some of the most commonly used along with simple explanations to help you make the best choice.

Cronidur 30 Stainless Steel

This type of stainless steel has a very low carbon content and also contains nitrogen. This composition ensures a hard blade that has high corrosion resistance. However, out of all of the types of stainless steel used in knife making, this is one of the least common.

D2/SKD11 Stainless Powder Steel

Depending on the manufacturer, you may see this type of steel listed as either SKD11 or D2 but they both refer to the same thing. One of the benefits of this type of steel is that the elements within it are very evenly distributed. This, coupled with its fine structure means that the steel is very hard and has good cutting abilities. Moreover, it offers excellent resistance to rust.

X50CrMoV15 Stainless Steel

If you are looking to buy a German chef’s knife then the chances are that it will be made from this type of stainless German steel. X50CrMoV15 features 15% chrome and 0.5% carbon as well as other elements such as vanadium and molybdenum which make it more robust. It’s incredibly common and is versatile enough to be used by novice chefs right through to professionals. This steel is very rust-resistant and has almost perfect cutting characteristics.

VG10 Stainless Steel

VG10 has quite a high carbon content, especially when compared to other types of stainless steel. The main advantage of this is hardness with this being one of the hardest types of stainless steel out there. As well as this, VG10 is one of the easiest types to sharpen which is great news if you’ve struggled with this in the past.

Blue Paper Steel/Aogami Carbon Steel

This is not necessarily a type of stainless steel but is known as carbon steel. Still, it remains a material that is widely used in knife making. Blue paper steel is a type of white paper steel that can typically be found in river beds that are abundant in iron-rich sand. This type of steel is almost identical to the steel that is used to craft traditional Japanese swords, known as Tamahagene steel but is fashioned in a more modern manner. One of the greatest benefits of white paper steel is that it is near perfect and hardly contains any flaws, which is not something that can be said of many other types of steel. Where blue paper steel is concerned, there is still a very good degree of perfection but with the addition of other elements including wolfram and chrome. This does take away from the traditional nature of the steel but provides it with much greater characteristics.

In terms of durability, the addition of these elements is excellent since blue paper steel is far more resistant to chipping and rust than white paper steel. That said, it doesn’t compare in this aspect to stainless steel whose durability is far more impressive. In terms of durability, the addition of these elements is excellent since blue paper steel is far more resistant to chipping and rust than white paper steel. That said, it doesn’t compare in this aspect to stainless steel whose durability is far more impressive.

ZDP - 189/MC66 Stainless Powder Steel

One of the most obvious advantages to using powder stainless steel is that it is far harder which allows the knife manufacturer to create a much finer and sharper edge. But not only this, that sharp edge will remain so for much longer meaning that you do not have to sharpen the knife as frequently. Many would consider MC66 steel to be the hardest available reaching 66 on the Rockwell hardness scale. That’s at the highest end of the toughest Japanese chef’s knives! If you’re looking for durability, this is definitely a steel worth considering.  Owing to the sensitivity of this type of steel, it is normally laminated between other types to offer greater protection.

SGPS/SG2 Stainless Powder Steel

You may hear this type of stainless steel being referred to by any of the above names, but remember that they are both the same thing. SGPS steel has a very fine structure and the elements within it are very well distributed meaning that it is typically much harder than other types. But while some other types of hard steel are durable at the expense of rust resistance, that is not true of SGPS which is surprisingly resistant to corrosion. In addition to this, it’s almost always laminated meaning that knives made from this material are also resistant to scratches and marks.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to purchasing kitchen knives, it is essential to think about what materials have been used to make them, their corrosion and wear resistance. While almost every knife you’ll ever buy will be made from stainless steel, there are lots of variations on this material. Some are more resistant to corrosion, while others are incredibly hard and will stay sharper for longer. It’s important to think about what you expect from a knife to determine which is best for you.

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