Are you looking for the best kind of knife to use in the kitchen?
With so many types of steel knives available, you may be overwhelmed with choice but don’t have the understanding to make an informed decision.
Well, don’t despair.
In a few minutes, you’ll have a clear understanding of both blue steel and white steel and which of the two are ideal for the kind of knife you want to use.
Let’s start from the beginning, though.
Blue steel and white steel are both types of carbon steel, ideal for use in kitchen knives thanks to their hardness and easily sharpened edge.
The other differences are more subtle and work to create a specific kind of knife experience.
Let’s dive right in and explain the differences between white steel and blue steel.
Quick Summary of Differences Between White and Blue Steel
|Subject||White Steel||Blue Steel|
|Composition material||Iron, carbon, manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon.||Iron, carbon, chromium, tungsten.|
|Cutting capability||Peeling, skinning, pairing garnishes, sashimi, vegetables.||Chopping through more challenging foods like raw meat, vegetables, bone.|
|Difficulty in making||Easy tempering process, but very volatile and difficult to forge||Complex engineering and precise forging process.|
|Steel’s nature||Easily sharpened to a razor-like edge. Shorter edge retention.||Wear-resistant & less prone to corrosion. Longer edge retention.|
What is White Steel?
White steel is a high-carbon steel that you can sharpen into a razor-like edge. And thanks to this higher carbon content, many chefs will opt for white steel knives because they can create the perfect cuts with them.
A white steel petty knife, for example, is ideal for exacting fish cuts, garnishes, and other kitchen tasks that call for complete precision.
White steel varies in its level of carbon content because of its volatile and complex forging process but generally lies within 0.6% – 2.5% carbon by weight. There are two types of white steel, white steel 1 and white steel 2.
What is Blue Steel?
As mentioned before, steel consists of iron and carbon. Different alloys can be added to create different types of steel. For example, stainless steel is created by adding chromium into the mix.
In blue steel’s case, chromium and tungsten are added to the carbon steel. As a result, a blue steel knife has much higher edge retention than a white steel knife but will not take on a cutting edge as fine as a white steel knife will.
This means a blue steel knife is ideal for everyday kitchen tasks that won’t require you to resharpen its edge constantly.
Blue Steel Vs White Steel: Which One You Should Pick?
As you can see above, there are several differences between blue steel vs white steel knives. While they are both high-grade carbon steels, they differ both in terms of cutting capability and the nature of their edges.
There might not be a clear better or worse, but there are pros and cons for each kind of knife, depending on its application.
Let’s break down the finer details so that you can get the best from both white steel and blue steel.
White steel and blue steel are both considered a type of high-grade carbon steel, which means they can be as much as 2.5% carbon by weight, with minimal impurities from other alloys.
The composition materials for white and blue steel differ slightly, however, resulting in knife edges with varying strengths.
Materials included in the making of white steel: As we mentioned before, white steel is incredibly pure steel with a high percentage of carbon and few other alloys.
White steel composition is made up of several different alloys, including Iron (Fe), carbon (C), manganese (Mn), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), and silicon (Si).
Materials included in the making of blue steel: Like white steel, blue steel is also highly pure carbon steel. However, blue steel composition is slightly different with the addition of alloys not found in white steel.
The number of additional alloys in blue steel include iron (Fe), carbon (C), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), silicon (Si), and tungsten (W).
Both blue steel and white steel are ideal for knives thanks to their hardiness and keen edge, but they both have their different strengths beyond those two factors.
Let’s take a look at the cutting capabilities of blue steel vs white steel.
The capability of white steel cutting and object: White steel can hold a razor-sharp edge which makes it ideal in any knife that requires extreme precision, finesse, or intricate detailing. For this reason, white steel knives are often found in smaller chef knives like petty knives and paring knives.
White steel knives are perfect for prepping sashimi, garnishes, soft vegetables, peeling and skinning, or making other precise cuts for presentation purposes or for consistent weight and size for kitchen prep duties. Check out these best sushi knives made out of white steel.
The capability of blue steel cutting and object: The strength of blue steel lies within its wear resistance and hardiness when compared to white steel. A sharpened blue steel knife will simply stay sharper for longer than a white steel knife.
With that in mind, blue steel is ideally used in kitchen knives where reliability and ease of use are the most critical factors. These steel knives are perfect for daily-use chef knives because they don’t require constant re-sharpening to make the most of them.
Blue steel knives are perfect for cutting raw meat, chicken, beef, and other similarly textured meat and chopping through harder vegetables. Blue steel knives are also ideal for extensive prep duties where speed and volume are critical factors. (E.g. Japan’s most popular multipurpose santoku knife)
Difficulty in Making
Both white and blue steel are very difficult to make. While making white still is often more volatile, its tempering process is comparatively easier than blue steel. On the other hand, blue steel is more heavily engineered and requires an exact forging technique.
The difficulty level of making white steel: Making white steel takes extreme accuracy and care. Because of the alloys used in making white steel, the process is a lot more volatile than making blue steel. Once white steel reaches the tempering process, however, things become a lot easier.
Overall, making white steel is considered difficult and best entrusted by well-reputed knife-makers with a strong track record for their white knives.
The difficulty level of making blue steel: Blue steel is highly complex to engineer. The alloys used in blue steel need to be combined very delicately and intentionally. While the process is less volatile overall, it still requires keen attention to detail to masterfully create blue steel for knives.
The forging process for blue steel is no less challenging and calls for extreme precision to create a finished product successfully.
I below video master smith Murray Carter explained why so many American knife manufacturers prefer to choose blue steel over white steel.
Nature of the Steel
The difference in the nature between white steel vs blue steel is what makes both metals shine respectively. And while both are variants of carbon steel, there is more to the case thanks to the alloys used and engineering process for both steels.
White steel is brittle in nature. Because of its highly refined process, white steel properties make it capable of attaining an extremely sharp razor-like edge. The obvious trade-off for this is that it is also more brittle in nature, and is prone to being chipped or snapped altogether if not used with care.
As such, white steel is best used in kitchen duties that require finesse and attention to detail. It will carve effortlessly through with precision, but it also requires more regular resharpening as the knife’s razor-sharp edge will naturally dull more quickly.
Blue steel is resistant free. With chromium added into the mix, blue steel is naturally more resistant to corrosion than other steel. Blue steel properties also mean a blue steel knife will retain the sharpness of its edge for much longer than a white steel knife will.
This makes it perfect as day-to-day kitchen cutlery like a kitchen knife because you won’t have to constantly resharpen the blue steel knife’s edge. It is also ideal for daily use because of its hardiness–simply put, it is much tougher to chip, snap, or otherwise damage a blue steel knife.
Our Recommended White and Blue Steel Knife
With so many suppliers available around the world, it can be overwhelming trying to find good-quality blue and white steel knives.
We’ve scoured the world for the best blue steel knives and the best white steel knives for you and compiled this list for you.
Every blue steel chef knife or white steel chef knife has been vetted for its quality and reputation before adding it to our list.
Is Blue Steel good for knives?
Blue steel is excellent for knives because of its hardiness, edge retention, and natural corrosion resistance.
What is white steel 2?
White steel 2 is simply white steel with less carbon content than white steel 1, meaning it cannot hold as sharp of an edge as white steel 1, but is also less brittle, making it popular as a material in chef knives.
Is blue steel the same as carbon steel?
Blue steel is not the same as carbon steel. While carbon steel is the basis for blue steel, the latter has other alloys added to increase its hardiness and superior edge retention.
Does blue steel rust?
While blue steel is more corrosion resistant thanks to its added chromium, it is still susceptible to rust, and we advise keeping it oiled for this reason. Find good quality oil for knives from here.
What is super blue steel?
Super blue steel or Aogami Super Blue is known for its high amount of tungsten, chromium, plus molybdenum. Super Blue steels are highly regarded as one of the best candidates for making sharp knives. Any person at any experience level can use these Japanese blue super knives.
Which company produces super blue steel knives?
These high-performance tools are produced by the Japanese company Hitachi Metals Ltd. The durability of the elements that they use is really top-notch. However, you’ll have to be ready to pay a higher cost.
Did I Miss Anything?
In conclusion, both white steel and blue steel knives are perfect for anyone in the kitchen. Whether you are a budding chef in training, executive chef, or just a home-cooking hobbyist, there is the perfect white or blue steel knife waiting for you to use.
Take care in choosing the right kind of knife for you because between white steel vs blue steel, each has its strengths that will help make kitchen prep, cooking, and day-to-day duties a breeze.