Knives are useful objects that have the dual purpose of a tool as well as a weapon. Most, if not all people own knives of some kind; from kitchen knives to outdoor knives, knives are an essential part of modern life.
Rust causes most of the damage to the sharp edges of the knife. When the blade gets dull, it is extremely dangerous to use as well as sharpening, again and again, is very annoying. If you want to avoid sharpening your kitchen knives, again and again, you can buy a good quality self-sharpening knife set.
However useful a knife is, the downfall is that a knife is made of metal, and metal rusts. Rust on your knife is not ideal and can damage your knife.
So, if you do get rust on your knife, how do you get it off?
Reading this article, you will be informed of useful and unique techniques to get the rust off your knife.
How Does Rust Form on the Blade?
Before diving into the separate methods for removing rust, I will quickly go over how rust forms to give an idea of why your knife rusted.
Knives are mainly made of steel, which comes from iron. Rust is actually iron oxide, so as the name seems to suggest iron and oxygen (oxide) react with water, which has oxygen in it, to create rust.
So rust is formed with iron, air, and water. Since knives are made of iron and air is everywhere, your knife probably rusted because it was exposed to water.
If you want your kitchen knives will never rust then you have to buy ceramic-made knives. In my blog, I have reviewed some of the best ceramic knife sets that you can buy.
Now on to the methods of removal.
1. The Baking Soda Method
This is one of the easiest options and requires only baking soda, a common household item, and water.
First, mix the baking soda and water into a thick paste and cover the rusty part thoroughly. Second, let the paste sit for around an hour. Then simply scour with steel wool or wire brush to remove the rust and wash the paste off and dry your knife thoroughly.
The advantage to this approach is that it is simple and cheap, while the downsides are that it doesn’t do too well with a lot of rust and it takes a while to work. However, if you’re looking for an easy solution to light rust, this is probably your best option.
2. The Vinegar Method
Another easy option for cleaning rust is to use white vinegar. This is a better option than baking soda if your knife has more significant rust on it.
Simply soak your knife in a bowl of vinegar overnight. Then, scour it with steel wool or a wire brush. After cleaning the rust off wash your knife with dish soap and water and dry thoroughly.
While being another easy option, the vinegar method can take a couple of times of repeating to get all the rust off and uses a significant amount of vinegar.
3. The Citric Acid Method
This method works especially well. Citric acid, which can be found in health food stores or, even simpler, online, works wonders for cleaning rust.
The process is simple as well; add three tablespoons of citric acid to a bowl of warm water and dissolve it into the water. Soak your knife overnight and scrub the rust off the next day.
Working so well, it also has its downfalls; first, it also takes off paint and other coatings, so never use it if your knife is painted.
Second, it may be a little more difficult to get the citric acid than the other removal methods we’ve learned.
4. The Chemical Solution Method
Probably the most effective method, as well as the safest for your knife, is using a chemical solution such as Metal Glo or another rust removing chemical. The actual cleaning is simple, just follow the directions on whichever chemical you bought.
While being a great option, this method is probably also the most expensive, however, if you have the money to spend on it, it is probably the best option.
5. The Potato Method
Wait, a potato? Yes, you can use a potato to clean rust off your knife. Potatoes contain oxalic acid; which, conveniently, dissolves rust.
To clean your knife with a potato cut the potato in half and cover the cut side with dish soap and salt or baking soda (to act as a minor abrasive). Then scrub the rust spot with the potato.
A simple and very interesting approach to cleaning your knife, the potato method is easy and can be a great way to teach your kids a science lesson or surprise your friends.
6. The Coca-Cola Method
Another unusual method to clean rust is with Coca-Cola. The soft drink contains a decent amount of phosphoric acid; which, like oxalic acid, dissolves rust.
Simply soak your knife in Coca-Cola for an hour or so, then scrub the rust off. While being an interesting way to clean your knife the problem is that it can leave your knife sticky so be careful to clean your knife well after getting the rust off.
Which Method to Choose
With the six methods portrayed above, how do you choose which method is the one for you? Well, go back and read through them again. Ask yourself these questions when reading each method.
- Am I willing to do this process?
- Which ingredients do I already have?
- Do I want to get an ingredient if I don’t have it?
- Which one fits the kind of rust my knife has?
- Do I want the most efficient method or a more interesting one?
Once you have gone through all of the methods again while asking these questions; the answer to which one to choose should become clearer.
Lastly, make sure to read the rest of this article for some important tips and insights that complement the methods outlined above.
The Most Important Thing
With all of this in mind, there is an important subject that must be covered. That is, the best method is to keep the rust away from your knife in the first place.
Once a knife has been exposed to rust, that spot will continue to rust and wear on your knife. While it may be too late for your knife that you are reading this article for; keep this tip in mind for all your other knives and prevent rust from sneaking up on you again.
So, how do you keep the rust away from your knife?
It all has to do with basic, routine maintenance and upkeep. Most important in the upkeep of your knife is to keep it away from water and clean it well after using it.
Rust is formed when steel interacts with water and air, and since knives are made of steel and you cannot avoid the air the only option is to keep water away from it.
Anytime your knife gets wet make sure to thoroughly dry it, including any joints and all exposed metal.
Also, a lot of dirt that can build up around your knife tang while using it has water in it. So make sure to wash your knife often. The more you use your knife the more often it should be cleaned. Ideally, you should clean your knife after every use.
Another way to keep your knife clean and free from rust is to store it well. Ideally, keep your knife in a sheath or block if it is a fixed blade, or kitchen knife as well as make sure to clean and dry your folding knife before closing it.
Cleaning and drying your knife may seem mundane, small, or insignificant; however, it can make the biggest difference in the life and quality of your knife.
The Kitchen Knife
Most of you, while reading this article, are thinking about utility knives, outdoor knives, or other types of knives. Except, kitchen knives; these are often neglected and forgotten in the upkeep of your knives.
Do you have any cleaver knives under $50, plain edge steak knives, serrated steak knives, Damascus steak knives, and knives for cutting ribs in your home kitchen? If not, you can buy any of the knives I have reviewed. Because out of hundreds of knives, they have been selected after details verification.
However, neglected as they are, kitchen knives are the most susceptible to rust. While being washed in a dishwasher, kitchen knives are exposed to water.
However, they are not always thoroughly dried. Dishwashers, overall, are a bad option if you want to keep your kitchen knives free from rust. While a dishwasher is great for other dishes, it is not for knives.
With this in mind, the best thing for kitchen knives is to hand wash them and make sure they are thoroughly dried.
Aren’t Kitchen Knives Stainless Steel?
Well, most kitchen knives are indeed stainless steel, but don’t let the name fool you. While, they may be less susceptible to stains, including rust, they are not foolproof. It is possible for stainless steel to rust, so don’t neglect them just because they say they are stainless.
Also, there are many kitchen knives that are not stainless steel; in fact, better quality kitchen knives like Japanese cleaver knives, Japanese chef knives under $200 are not often made of stainless steel. So it is important to remember kitchen knives when fending off the rust.
I have reviewed some of the best kitchen knife sets under $300 and high-end kitchen knife sets under $500, you can check them out if you want. The blades of these sets are made of very good quality steel and they have sufficient rust-resistant characteristics.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful to you for learning how to remove rust from knives and prevent it from happening in the first place.
With all the methods outlined above, you may be overwhelmed. From baking soda and vinegar to potatoes and Coca-Cola; the key is choosing which will work best for you and leaving the others alone.
In this brief article, I have tried to best outline the most efficient methods (with a couple of interesting, exotic methods for the adventurous).
Lastly, don’t forget about the most important thing, preventing rust; and the forgotten knives, kitchen knives. Good luck with your rust combat and prevention!