Many knives are designed for durability and versatility, with high-quality options capable of handling various tasks. However, even the finest of them can develop rust if not properly maintained. Many assume that stainless steel blades are immune to rust, but in reality, all steel objects can corrode. Fortunately, there are simple techniques for making your knives rust-free at home.
There are several ways to remove rust from a knife, and you don’t need specialized chemicals or equipment. The necessary items for restoring a rusty or stained knife are likely already in your possession so if you have a rusted or stained knife that you want to restore, this article will provide valuable insights.
We will discuss the reasons behind knife rusting, the risks associated with using a rusted knife, and methods for removing rust from a blade. By the end of this article, you should have all the information you need to make your knives rust-free.
Rusting is a form of oxidation that occurs when the iron content of a knife reacts with water and oxygen. So it is evident that the more contact your knife makes with moisture, the higher its risk of developing rust. Chef knives and hunting knives are frequently exposed to moisture while cutting different foods. Not to mention a knife needs to be washed regularly with water making its risk of rusting even higher.
Most modern knives are marketed as stainless steel, with a small layer of chromium on the outside of the blade. While this layer offers some protection against rust, it doesn’t make a knife rustproof. As a knife is used in the high moisture environment of a kitchen day in and day out, it is bound to develop oxidation.
It is important to note that exposure to moisture is not the only cause of rust in kitchen knives. A few other elements in your kitchen, such as dishwashing detergents and acidic foods regularly come in contact with your knife. These elements also accelerate the rusting process if left on your knife for prolonged periods.
As rust sets in on your knife’s blade, it slowly eats away the metal and reduces the sharpness of the blade. Not to mention rust looks unsightly and can even ruin the taste of your food.
Now that you know what causes a knife to rust, it is essential to understand the risks of using a rusty knife. Since knives are used to prepare ingredients and sometimes hunt game, a rusted knife can cause contamination and leave residue in food. While rust is not toxic in most cases and doesn’t pose a severe risk to human health, it will affect the appearance of food. No one wants rust particles in their food despite it being nontoxic, so it is best to keep your knife rust-free.
Now that you know the importance of keeping your knife rust-free, it is time to answer the main question. How can you remove rust from your knife at home by yourself? Remember that the techniques we will share below can be used to remove rust from any knife. So no matter if it’s a kitchen knife, a hunting knife, or a utility knife, you can use the methods explained below to remove rust from it.
Without further ado, here are different methods you can try to get rid of rust from your knife:
Scrub the knife with an abrasive: If the rust has just started forming on your knife, you can always scrub it off using an abrasive.
An abrasive item such as a fine grit can polish the blade and remove rust.
If fine grit is unavailable, you can use a cork stopper to polish the knife.
Lay the knife flat and thoroughly rub the abrasive on both sides until the rust is rubbed off. Once all the rust is removed, wipe away all the rust, and the knife should be rust-free.
Take a container that is large enough to fit the knife and add white vinegar to it. Now submerge the knife into vinegar for 5 minutes.
Vinegar will eat away the rust, and you can use a sponge or towel to scrub off any loose rust left on the knife after the vinegar bath.
Dry the knife with a clean cloth; your knife should be as good as new.
Baking soda method: Baking soda has a similar effect on rust as vinegar and can be used to remove rust from knives. You can’t use baking soda in the powdered form to remove rust from your knife. Instead, you must mix a baking soda paste with water.
Add baking soda to a bowl, and then add some water. Mix water and baking soda until you get a paste-like consistency.
Apply the mixture to the knife and ensure you get the paste on every part of the blade.
Now use a toothbrush or a mildly abrasive sponge to scrub the paste onto the blade. If the rust is severe, you can always use a more abrasive surface, such as steel wool or a sharpening stone, to scrub baking soda on the knife.
Once you have removed all the rust, wipe the blade off with a clean cloth, and your knife is ready for use.
Potato method: This method is not ideal for highly rusted kitchen knives because you won’t be able to scrub the rust off using this rust removal technique. However, if your knife has light surface-level rust, then using a potato can help. Potatoes contain an acid known as oxalic acid, which reacts with the rust to loosen it up. Then inserting and removing the knife from a potato serves as a scrubbing to remove unwanted rust from the knife’s surface.
All these methods of removing rust from a knife are effective for most steel knives, whether they are stainless or not. That said, you must be careful when using abrasive tools to remove rust. There is a risk that you might scrub away any engravings or designs from your knife’s surface. So if you have an expensive knife, mild rust removal methods such as baking soda and potato are ideal for preserving its surface.
Apart from the rust removal methods mentioned above, there is another less widely known method of removing rust from a knife. This method is referred to as the plunging method, which involves plunging your blade’s knife into soil or sand.
Since this method is not hygienic, it is best to use it for rusty utility knives. Plunging requires you to stick a knife in and out of the soil at least 12 times or more. The mildly abrasive soil will remove rust from the knife’s surface. This method is beneficial during survival situations when you don’t have access to sharpening tools and must rely on nature to remove rust from your blade.
If you are okay with getting your hands dirty, then the above methods are ideal. It is best to wear gloves to protect your hands when dealing with sharp knives. The methods explained above require no special tools to remove rust, and you can do them from the convenience of your home.
However, if you are dealing with a highly rusted knife, it would be best to get a new blade instead of trying to restore the old one. Or you can always get expert help if the above mentioned methods don’t provide the expected results.