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What happens to a knife when rust has set in

What happens to a knife when rust has set in

There are few things more frustrating than discovering your knives and utensils have developed rust. For many, the appearance of rust can seem like the end, but this is not the case at all. Before overreacting and throwing away your valued cutting implement, consider the following rust removing methods that could very well return your knife to its previous state.

So how do you get rust off a knife? Read on as we explain the most proven methods.

What is rust and why is it so damaging

Rust rears its ugly head when iron is exposed to a combination of oxygen and moisture (most commonly water) for a prolonged period of time. The result is the deterioration of the affected item and significant corrosion if left untreated. 

While many modern kitchen knives are designed to resist the effects of corrosion, there is still a high likelihood of rust occurring if the knife in question is subjected to a significant amount of moisture time and time again. 

Is rust dangerous to your health?

There is a common misconception that rust can be harmful to the health of individuals and their families. This is not true whatsoever. Rust is not a toxic substance. 

While this means you can continue to use rusty knives for your kitchen tasks, this is obviously not ideal. A rusty knife will have lost its effectiveness at performing even the most simple of tasks. Which is why it is critical to restore the knife to its former glory. 

So what can you do at home to remove rust and restore your knife to health? The following 4 methods are renowned for their effectiveness: 

1. The Potato Method

    This one may not be the most effective method but it is definitely the simplest. All you need to utilize this method is one item - a potato. To perform the clean it is best to cut the potato in half so that the acid of the potato is exposed. Then simply scrub the knife on either side of the potato. 

    The reason that this method can prove effective is due to the oxalic acid that potatoes contain. Once you have performed the potato method, rinse the knife off and dry it in with a soft cloth. This is definitely the most cost-effective and natural way to remove rust from your favorite blade. 

    2. Baking Soda Method

    Often considered to be one of the most versatile items for performing a range of ‘save me’ tasks, baking soda is also effective with the removal of rust. To perform the baking soda method simply perform the following tasks: 

    1. Start by cleaning any dirt from your knife using a standard cleaning product and then wipe the blade clean
    2. Combine lemon juice (2-3 tablespoons) and ½ a cup of baking soda to create a paste
    3. Apply an ample layer of paste onto the affected area of the knife using an implement such as an old toothbrush
    4. Allow the paste to sit for 10 minutes
    5. Use the same toothbrush to scrub the blade gently. Where rust is quite excessive then you may need to scrub more rigorously. 
    6. Wipe the blade clean and apply a small layer of oil (mineral oil is best) to protect the blade and to provide lubrication

    3. Salt and Vinegar Method

    The Salt & Vinegar combo goes hand in hand like toast and butter. This is true when removing rust as well. All you need is white vinegar and kosher salt. It has been reported that this method is the most effective but why not try for yourself and see. To perform the Salt & Vinegar method simply prepare a solution by mixing kosher salt into a bowl with white vinegar. Once the solution has been prepared, place the knife inside and observe the chemical reaction that occurs. You will observe the formation of gas on the blade. When you spot this, remove your knife from the solution, and rub it carefully with a soft sponge. Rinse, dry, and marvel at the effectiveness of this method. 

    4. WD-40 Method (not for knives used in food preparation)

    We’ve likely all used WD-40 (or some variation) at some stage in our lives. Whether to apply to hinges to fix creaky doors, to the bike chain to return it to a previous state, or for many other reasons. It is just as effective when dealing with rusty knives although please note that it is not a recommended method when dealing with knives used in the preparation of food. Rather, it is ideal for hobby knives and outdoor knives such as your swiss army knife. The reason being that the contaminants found within WD-40 are not suitable for human consumption. 

    To apply this method, spray the knife with a thin amount of WD-40. Then carefully sand the blade using a fine sandpaper. Finally, wipe the knife clean with a soft cloth. Please note that when using the sandpaper it is advisable not to run the sandpaper along the edge of the blade as this may result in the scratching of your knife. 

    Upgrade your Knife and Minimize the risk of knife

    Of course, while you can remove rust and return your knives to their former glory by adopting the methods outlined above, it is often advisable to ensure your purchase the highest quality knives to minimize this situation occurring in the first place. 

    Knives Et Cetera knives are built to last, thanks to the careful construction and high quality Damascus steel used during their creation. However, even the highest quality knife can suffer from rust. Avoiding this issue is largely down to you. Ensure that your knives are treated like the valuable product we know them to be. To do so follow these steps: 

    • Place them on a wooden knife stand where possible 
    • Keep them away from moisture. 
    • Hand wash them instead of dishwashing. 

    Following these steps is sure to help keep your knives away from the vinegar and baking soda. It’ll also hopefully mean that the only potato your knife needs to confront is the one that it is cutting during food prep!