Do you like your ceramic kitchen knife?
June 26, 2013 9:35 PM   Subscribe

After a close encounter with a garbage disposal, my 15-year Chef's knife is now defunct. Thinking of replacing it with a ceramic , but have some concerns about durability and sturdiness. Specifically: 1) The claim is that a ceramic blade never needs sharpening. Is this true? 2) Is the blade heavy/sturdy enough to do heavy chopping? Could you de-bone a chicken with one? Very interested in any and all other advice and thoughts from cooks that have made the switch from steel to ceramic. Thanks
posted by BadgerDoctor to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've never had occaision to debone anything,but in my experience, cermaic knives are better at precision than brute strength. They also shatter if you drop them on tile.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:41 PM on June 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've really enjoyed my ceramic knives for every day use. They definitely stay sharp for a long time (not sure about forever) but I recently broke one pressing garlic as a prelude to peeling it.
posted by Muttoneer at 9:41 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I also used mine for precision cutting only. And I loved it. But not enough to buy another one. It broke after one year's use. First the blade got chipped (I can't remember exactly how), and then broke right off three or four months later. Conclusion: too fragile for the price.
posted by zagyzebra at 9:49 PM on June 26, 2013

The claim is that a ceramic blade never needs sharpening.

It isn't possible to sharpen them.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:50 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love mine. But you can't make any twisting motion with it. I wouldn't use it to debone a chicken, and I don't even like cutting heavy cheese with it.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:51 PM on June 26, 2013

I too loved it for precision work and constantly feared breaking it.
posted by carsonb at 10:11 PM on June 26, 2013

1 - They eventually need sharpening. My larger knife even came with a voucher for a free sharpening. The downsize is you need to be in Japan to redeem it. You can also buy sharpeners for them although that may be a Japan-only thing. I seem to remember both either the packaging or the instruction manuals having a little graph comparing how long you could use it without sharpening to a steel knife.

2 - I chop carrots and celery with mine. Is that heavy? I don't eat meat so it is pretty much my go-to knife in the kitchen. The manual tells you what things it is suitable for and not.

I've had 2 ceramic knives. A small paring knife I had for maybe 5-6 years before it got stolen and a chef's knife sized one for maybe the last 4 years. No issues with breaking and I am not particularly careful with how I handle them, just what I use them on (pressing garlic? that's just asking for trouble). I would think twice before de-boning a chicken with one, or doing anything with bones.

Both my knives are by Kyocera so I can't speak to other brands.

A ceramic knife can not be your only knife. You will need to get a steel chef's knife. But it makes a great additional knife to have in the kitchen.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:36 PM on June 26, 2013

I should add that both my knives were bought in Japan. It is possible that stuff bought elsewhere may not be of the same quality for a given price point, although things in general aren't any cheaper over there.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:42 PM on June 26, 2013

We've had a couple. They're nice light knives very suitable for veg prep. They are not heavy knives I'd reach for when doing meat prep. They seem to last somewhere around five years, so like a non-stick coated pan, we treat them as disposable--don't pay a huge amount for them. Our local kitchen supply has them on sale fairly often. They are a decent bargain at $10 to $20 each.

Fibrox knives are pretty similar in feel to the Kyocera ceramics, and are resharpenable.
posted by bonehead at 10:57 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've got two ceramic knives. Great for chopping vegetables and paring. My Kyocera knives are blunt nosed so even if I wanted to use them to debone a chicken I couldn't. The blades are brittle so you don't use them like a normal chef's knife.

Sharpening is a pain. The knives do blunt eventually. I bought a ceramic knife sharpener in Japan but basically I'll be sending my knives back to the manufacturer to sharpen, for a fee.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:59 PM on June 26, 2013

I've used a couple of cheap ones, bought for ~15 euros each. Great edge, it's nice they are so lightweight. One has a 5mm notch on the blade now though, from striking against bone when carving a piece of lamb. Maybe the fancy expensive ones are more sturdy, I don't know. Overall they're nice to have, but you'll still need a proper steel knife for some tasks.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:07 PM on June 26, 2013

I was given this Kyocera set as a gift and rarely used them. Lightweight, but too small to use as a chef's knife or santoku. It just wasn't as practical as a full-sized knife.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:17 PM on June 26, 2013

I used to call my ceramic knife the perfect vegan knife - wonderful for quick veg prep and dicing delicate tofu, and easily destroyed if twisted the wrong way while cutting into a block of hard cheese or shoved against a meat bone.
posted by tanuki.gao at 11:45 PM on June 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think they're very practical for kitchens like mine, where knives are treated coarsely. The upside is that everyone in the household is aware of the fragility of the ceramic knife, and adjusts usage to accommodate. The downside, as a result, it looks like steel gets preferred unless they're all dirty. It's ended up a sort of last resort knife when others aren't available.

Initial sharpness is fairly impressive. But not Earth shattering. I can get steel knives sharper fairly easily. Ceramic shines at holding that edge. They do dull eventually, probably depending on how hard they are used and what kind of materials are cut, knife technique used, and cutting boards are used. Any significant lateral forces on the blade will take chips out of the edge. The smallest chips, not viewable with the naked eye, result in a dull knife, once there are enough of them.

They can be sharpened at home, by hand, using fairly unsophisticated abrasives. But it's tricky getting the feel down pat. Some traditional knife sharpening techniques definitely won't work, like Accusharp type devices.

Ceramic seems to be pretty cheap mass production method for knives, and prices are dropping rapidly. I wouldn't be surprised if they come to be regarded as more or less disposable. Kind of like classy plastic knives.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:56 PM on June 26, 2013

The claim is that a ceramic blade never needs sharpening.

It isn't possible to sharpen them.

Neither of these things is true: they do need sharpening, but last longer than steel, and it is possible to sharpen them, but you need to send them away, or buy a special device for it.

For a back-up or secondary knife I think they are fine, but for that durability you give up a lot of versatility that I'm not comfortable giving up on in a primary knife. And you can get a regular steel knife plenty, plenty sharp with relatively little effort. As others mentioned, they are brittle as hell, so watch out dropping them, twisting the blade, etc.
posted by smoke at 12:08 AM on June 27, 2013

I have bought two relatively expensive ceramic knives, and a 5 pack of cheap ones. The cheap ones are doing excellent service. The relatively expensive ones broke, one from pressing garlic one from daily use.

The cheap ones? Love 'em. Wouldn't go back to using metal knives for veggie and boned meat / fish chopping duty, but you do need some crappy steel knives around for tough / horizontal shears jobs.

Also I do not keep a fastidious kitchen, and they're the knives of first resort.
posted by singingfish at 1:56 AM on June 27, 2013

My Kyocera knives came with instructions to not use them on items with bone, or with stone fruit. You can chip the blades, i didnt follow the instructions and have a small chip in mine.

They are super sharp and my go to knives for everything else though. If they ever do get dull, supposedly you can send them in for free sharpening, or there is a specialized ceramic sharpener you can buy, its pricey though.

I ceramic knives are great, but they cant be your only knives.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:24 AM on June 27, 2013

We have a couple of Kyocera knives. They're fuckin-A great. They're cheapish, and the edge has lasted a couple of years of pretty heavy use on vegetables and meat so far. A six-inch chef's knife is only $40-50 on sale.

They'll eventually need sharpening, at which point we'll either send them to the factory for sharpening or just chuck them and get new ones.

I wouldn't use it like a meat cleaver. You don't want one instead of a steel chef's knife, you want one in addition to. But I wouldn't want to have a kitchen without them again.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:28 AM on June 27, 2013

I like our ceramic knives, but yeah, to echo everything else said here, they can't be your only knife unless maybe you're a vegan who hates garlic.

That said, ceramic knives are pretty damn impressive. I have no problem getting a paper thin slice of tomato with it. I have a fairly nice steel chefs knife, that cost 3 or 4 times the price of the ceramic one, and theres no way I'm getting the same fancy work out of it.
posted by fontophilic at 5:33 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

We did look at resharpening a Kyocera 5" blade at one point. It was possible, but it would have taken a while. It has to go back to Japan, apparently, and it would have cost a good part of the price of a new knife.

We just bought another one.
posted by bonehead at 5:40 AM on June 27, 2013

Agreeing with most of the above. I just got one a month or two ago, and it is AWESOMELY sharp. I've literally never used a sharper knife, even brand new professionally sharpened fancy steel knives don't compare. You can cut onion thin enough to be transparent.

However, I've read that they are brittle, and that you can't use them on anything with bones or pits. So de-boning a chicken is probably out.

bonehead: "We did look at resharpening a Kyocera 5" blade at one point. It was possible, but it would have taken a while. It has to go back to Japan, apparently, and it would have cost a good part of the price of a new knife."

This is not quite true. See the kyocera site here. $10 for as many Kyocera knives as you want plus whatever it costs you to ship to them (the $10 is just for their shipping fees to get them back to you). No idea how long it takes, though.
posted by Grither at 6:14 AM on June 27, 2013

I broke a ceramic paring knife off inside of a head of cauliflower the first time I tried to use one. I had to throw away the whole cauliflower because I couldn't safely get the knife blade out! But raw cauliflower is a pretty hefty vegetable.

So, yeah, I agree: they have their uses but they also have things they're really not good at. Like coring a cauliflower or cabbage.
posted by mskyle at 7:00 AM on June 27, 2013

We have two Kyocera, and I adore them-- they stay sharp for a very long time, they slice vegetables beautifully, and every few years we send them to a center in California who sharpens them for about $10. But you shouldn't use them on bone, ice, or anything harder than that. I have an old-fashioned chef's knife for those tasks, but I use my Kyocera 85% of the time.

My only other complaint is that they (naturally) don't stick to magnetic knife racks, which forced us to rearrange our kitchen counter to find a place to store them.
posted by willbaude at 7:41 AM on June 27, 2013

I had a nice 7" Kyocera that I used for veggies and light chopping. Always with a bamboo or soft plastic chopping board, it stayed sharp and cleaned easily. I also had a regular carbon steel chef's knife for meats and rougher use, though.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:26 AM on June 27, 2013

Grifter, a replacement ceramic knife was about $10. On sale, but still.
posted by bonehead at 10:42 AM on June 27, 2013

We have some inexpensive Chinese-made ceramic knives. They were super sharp, but have had some trouble with bits of the edge chipping/spalling when exposed to the slightest bit of torsion.
posted by Good Brain at 10:49 AM on June 27, 2013

I think most of the pros and cons have already been touched upon (fwiw, I have four Kyoceras and really like them), so my only advice is this: if you really, really must cook midnight snacks barefoot and drunk, try to condition yourself to just accept the fact that you may end up with a chipped/tipped/totally broken knife at some point, and that it's preferable to the bloody mess I made of my kitchen last night.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:49 PM on June 27, 2013

I have several cheap Chinese ceramic knives, that are doing great after a few years. They are much better than similarly priced metal knives.
posted by gregr at 1:57 PM on June 27, 2013

If there's much left of your old knife, and it's good quality, you may be able to grind it down and use. I was able to recover a favorite knife whose tip broke off.
posted by theora55 at 3:46 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had this Kyocera ceramic paring knife (or one very similar) for several years.

No chips, no breaks. Its not as sharp as it was when new, but is still noticeably sharper than my metal knives.

I'm not super hard on my knives, if you use it a lot it might wear faster?
posted by sarah_pdx at 6:53 PM on June 27, 2013

« Older The care and feeding of your supertaster   |   Edible plants to grow in the shower? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.