Ceramic knives are sharp and they stay sharp longer than traditional steel knives…so they say. Here I cover the ceramic knife advantage, plus downsides, and what to consider if you’re looking for one among the many ceramic knife sets on the market right now.
Who’s this for? If you’ve never used ceramic knives you might be wondering are they any good. I did some research to help with that and hence this article with what I found. Let’s start with some reasons people might use them.
To avoid confusion: This article is about knives with blades that are entirely ceramic, NOT steel blades with a ceramic-coating.
Why use ceramic knives in the kitchen
- They are lightweight to handle
- The blades don’t rust or corrode
- They are easy to clean. A quick rinse and wipe with a kitchen towel.
- Unlike metal, the material won’t oxidize. They are non-corrosive.
- Their cutting edge stays sharper longer
- The blade endures acids and is nonporous (no impact on food flavor)
- It resists bacteria and germs
- The blades are made of natural material and the manufacture is considered environmentally friendly
What you might like to know…
How ceramic knives are made
In a nutshell…
- Manufacturers extract high-grade zirconium dioxide (zirconia) from zircon sand
- They then fire this zirconia in a lengthy process to create ceramic knife blades
Compare this to the ceramic coating of nonstick cookware, which come from silica sand.
In more detail…
Video on how ceramic knives are made
This 8-min “How Do They Do It” video shows what it takes to make the Kyocera ceramic knife sets.
Enough metal is added to the mix so that ceramic knives are not a security risk, i.e. they can be detected by airport scanners and the like.
About that ceramic blade color
Most ceramic blades will be either white or black.
The black blade is supposedly a tougher blade because it’s gone through isostatic pressing to increase density and strength. The additional (cold or hot) isostatic pressing produces a tighter knit between the ceramic molecules.
A hot-isostatic press (HIP) involves extra firing at high pressures, whereas a cold-isostatic pressing (CIP) occurs at room temperatures but with higher pressure. You can learn more about hot- and cold-isostatic pressing here.
What to like about these
The two main advantages of a ceramic knife are
1) a cutting edge that stays sharp and
2) the ease of precision cutting.
These performance advantages are mentioned again and again in ceramic knife reviews.
This means paper-thin tomato slices and perfectly diced onions for you in the kitchen. Be sure to watch the video above (at about 8:12) to see how a ceramic knife finely slices a fillet of fish into wafer-thin slices.
Apart from being better than steel knives for fine slicing jobs at home, ceramic knives stay sharper for longer. This is great, if you prefer not to have the inconvenience of having to sharpen knives too often.
As well, using a ceramic knife means you have a lightweight knife that will never rust and is easy to clean.
See also: The best kitchen knife set collection.
What not to like
- Ceramic knives (while strong and all of the above) are fragile. I wrote how to manage this in my article on what not to do with them, which is worth a read.
What Else to look for
Do they feel balanced? Are they light to handle? Having both qualities mean you’ll suffer less fatigue from repetitive cutting tasks.
Handles should be comfortable — feel good to hold. Elastomer (rubber-like) handles have a soft feel. Ergonomic designed handles offer better control.
Blades: The black zirconium blade has been through isostatic pressing to increase the density and strength. They can be more expensive though.
Where are they made? Japan considers itself the world’s largest and highest quality manufacturer of advanced ceramic knives. Kyocera knives are such, made in Sendai in southwest Japan.
See if the warranty includes Lifetime Sharpening, unless you intend DIY sharpening.
Cost: Weigh up what you are prepared to pay.
Some sets include extras, such as a vegetable peeler.
Some sets have handles that are color coded. The idea with this is to avoid cross contamination when working with meats and vegetables.
Types of knives included: Consider your preferences. For example, do you want a 6″ santoku chef’s knife, a 5″ utility ceramic knife, a 4″ fruit knife, or a 3″ paring knife or all or some of them. I wrote an article about the different knives and their purposes, which may help.
Amount of care: Consider protective covers or sheaths to protect the blades and avoid personal injury. I wrote about the best ways to store sharp knives. Knife blocks and drawer knife holders are two of the convenient options. Other care needs to consider…
- I recommend you hand wash only. Ceramic knives are super easy to clean, so this is not a hassle.
- As said, consider the purpose of your purchase. If it’s heavy duty cutting or prying, don’t buy ceramic knives. This includes use on frozen food, bones, and hard cheeses.
For more tips…
Pros and cons in a nutshell
A good set of knives will save you time and show your finesse. You won’t go wrong with at least one or two ceramic knives complementing your high-carbon stainless steel set.
The Kyocera brand is my favorite of these — Click here for great examples of ceramic knives that include Japanese-made black zirconium blades.