Thanks for any input!
I have also been curious about ceramic knives for a while. Finally, I bought one from an online auction site for less than $20 w/shipping. It's a 6" blade and is very light. My main purpose of this knife is use with fruits and veggies. The sharpness, wow, this thing is crazy sharp, the blade just glides through all the veggies I have tried so far. Then a quick rinse and clean under the faucet and put back on the top shelf, I don't want my kids or wife using it, too sharp and fragile for them. I really like mine so far, and for less than $20 why not try one yourself?
Ok, so here's the thing. If you are a home cook, who is only going to cut veggies and fruit with your knife, and you can find a good deal: go for it.
IF you are a professional
IF you want to cut meat/fish/shellfish/misc
IF you are going to use it for more than a few months
IF you like to be able to shapen your own knife
IF you are not going to baby it
Don't bother to buy one. Despite the common belief, they do get dull, and not as slowly as you'd like to believe. They also shatter (as in to pieces.). I had the misfortune of dropping a ceramic knife and having it shatter like glass. They chip, and you can't sharpen it out yourself. Waste of money.
If you want a high quality knife that will stay sharp, get high-carbon japanese knife.
Yes to almost all of what Igannon said --I just don't understand the meat/fish thing. Nevertheless, +1.
I'm surprised ceramic knives came up at all... again. You don't see much written about ceramics anymore, nor do you see them marketed very much either. It appears to be an idea, as Victor Hugo might have said, whose time has passed.
There are a lot of problems with ceramics. Iggy got a few of them. From my own viewpoint, one of the biggest is that they aren't made in sizes large enough to be a useful go-to knife.
The biggest though is that they are so very fragile. They pretty much come with a Broken Tip Guarantee.
They appear to be pitched for people who can't sharpen a knife (even though ceramics do dull eventually). But I don't see being limited to a paring knife for everything, especially one that needs to be babied, as a good solution. Certainly not for anyone with decent knife skills.
By the way, ceramic knives can be sharpened at home with decent skills, patience, and good diamond stones (like DMTs).
I had a Bokar utility knife that I used for about 10 years mostly at home. It was as sharp as the day I bought it when I dropped it and it broke. I used to use it for fruits and veggies as it wouldn't make them turn brown like some steel knives do. I miss it. I agree with Iggy about the Japanese knives. That's what I use at work.
I had a Bokar utility knife that I used for about 10 years mostly at home. It was as sharp as the day I bought it when I dropped it and it broke.
Probably just a typo -- if so, forgive the correction -- but it's Boker, not Bokar.
If you got 10 years of frequent use without any wear at all, you're the exception to the laws of physics then. Ceramics do get dull. They don't get dull as fast as steel knives, but they do get dull. They are also prone to chipping. Further, they are problematic to say the least when it comes to sharpening.
I dropped it and it broke is one of the other MAJOR drawbacks.
A third is the absence of adequate sizes and any real variety in profiles. They're pretty much limited to what the French call office and very small chef's. They're office is useful when you want a small knife, but small chef's are non-starters as far as I'm concerned.
Fourth, good ceramics are very pricey.
I used to use it for fruits and veggies as it wouldn't make them turn brown like some steel knives do. I miss it.
I don't understand the separation of "fruits and 'veggies'" from other food. Also I find keeping and maitaining special purpose knives for very common tasks to be a pain. The why of it is beyond me.
The off color is caused by one of two things. Either your knives are crushing rather than cutting or there's some sort of chemical reaction with the blades' steel alloys. It's not any sort of leap to conclude your other knives are either cheap carbons (SK4, e.g.) which haven't been properly patinated or neutralized (as with baking soda); or, more likely, they are simply dull.
I've used old French carbons forever -- most of them since when they weren't old and neither was I. The rare instances of the browning you describe only occurred when I already knew the knives were well past time to sharpen.
Ceramics are something like Cutco in that they are knives for people who don't really "get" the whole "sharpening is part of owning knives" bit. But, to paraphrase Robert Knowles, they're entitled to cutlery too.
2 more cents,
Hey Boar. Yes it's Boker. I got mine for free. When I talk about discoloration I'm referring mostly to avocados apples limes and lettuce. I find that even with a very, very sharp carbon steel knife they tend to discolor when sliced. They didn't with the Boker. My knives are all extremely sharp by the way. I have never heard of "patinated or neutralizing" them. How exactly do I do that?
"Patina" is the artist's name for passivation. In other words, a very thin, stable layer of oxidation which protects metal from reacting with its environment -- including preventing further oxidation.
It's become popular to "force" a patina on new carbon-steel (i.e., non-stainless) knives in order to prevent them rusting and from reacting with food. To do this, soak the knife in some sort of oxidizing agent -- prepared mustard, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, etc.; remove the knive from the soak, and wipe it just enough so that you can see the surface; allow the knife to continue to react to the agent until it looks like it's achieved the desired amount of patina; rinse the knife thoroughly to stop the reaction; wipe down thoroughly; allow at least a day for the surface to stabilize, then dip in a dilute solution of baking soda (NOT washing soda), to completely stop the reaction, and rinse and wipe again.
Mustard patinas are very interesting -- the patterns look almost like wootz or Damascus. Mario Batali did his Misno Sweden knives with mustard -- you may have seen his gyuto on the last Iron Chef.
Another good method for patinating/passivating is to scour your carbon knives with Bar Keeper's Friend. The oxalic acid in BKF will cause the surface of your knives to oxidize not too long after you've cleaned them. After they've achieved the proper level of patina you can do the baking soda thing.
Speaking of baking soda, another way to make carbon steel less reactive is to "neturalize" it by scouring it with baking soda. The knives will still develop a patina but it won't be dark. Instead it will be the dull, silver glow of properly maintained tools.