There are two main categories of steel, Carbon steel and Stainless steel. Most knives fall in to one of these categories.
Carbon Steel: Carbon steel is made through the process of adding carbon to steel made from iron ore. This helps with improved sharpness and edge retention, but does mean the blade is more susceptible to rusting, so requires greater care.
Popular types of carbon steel are White Steel #1 and #2, Blue Steel #1 and #2 and Blue Super Steel.
Stainless steel: Stainless steel is similar to carbon steel, however chrome is also used in the mix. This is a very popular material for knives as the chrome prevents rusting. Stainless steel also retains a very sharp edge, but may require sharpening slightly more regularly than carbon steel.
Popular types of stainless steel in knives are VG10, VG1, R2/SG2, AUS10, AUS 8, ZPD189 and Silver Steel
The toughness of steel is measured on the Rockwell scale, and different ty[pes of steel are given numbers on the Rockwell HRC scale, the higher the number, the tougher the steel.
The general rule is that the higher the number, the greater the sharpness and edge retention. Typically, the tougher the steel then the more effort in sharpening may be required.
As the properties of steels vary, these general rules are not always accurate, so the following tables will show how different steels perform:
Hopefully this gives you some good information to choose the right steel for you. Always remember, if you don’t want to deal with rusting, go for a stainless steel.
To help maintain any knife, you should follow our care guidelines HERE. For a Carbon Steel knife this is even more important and you should make sure you have some Camellia oil and a rust eraser (which you can find here), but always keep you knife dry and clean.