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How to Choose the Right Santoku Knife

April 5, 2023126 ViewskniveSource

Japanese Santoku Knife

What exactly is a Japanese Santoku Knife? Lot’s of people may confuse it with a chef’s knife or a gyuto knife. They are quite similar in appearance. But there are a few important distinctions between them.

Santoku Knife was was first invented by Japanese, meaning “three uses”: slicing, dicing, and mincing. They are particularly adept at creating very thin slices of foods, which improves the overall aesthetics of completed dishes. Compared with Chef’s Knife, Japanese Santoku knife is shorter and has a much smaller curved tip. This means one can slice in a single downward cut easier.

When choosing a Japanese Santoku Knife, material is definitely the first factor we consider. Like other knives, Santoku knives are made of ceramic or steel. The former is represented by Kyocera, while the latter is divided into carbon steel and alloy steel.

1. Ceramic 

Ceramic is extremely hard, second only to diamond. The extreme hardness allows for smaller opening angles and increased sharpness, excellent retention and longer duration as well. Due to special characteristics of the material, there is no rusty taste after use. Santoku Knives made of this material will be especially suitable for cutting fruits. 

However, ceramic also has disadvantages. Sharpening is made more difficult. Regular sharpening tools doesn’t cope well with the hardness of ceramic knife. You’ll have to hand it over to the manufacturer. Ceramic knives are also more vulnerable. A careless fall is easy to break the blade.

2. Carbon steel

Carbon steel, as the name suggests, is a steel with a relatively high carbon content. It’s harder than pure iron, which makes sharper, but easier to rust. Therefore it needs to be treated carefully and dry in time after use.

After years of development, nowadays carbon steel knives are mainly produced in Japan. They’re not as famous as German alloy steel ones, but sharpness is guaranteed.

3. Alloy steel

Smelted with other elements, alloy steels are able to achieve corrosion and wear resistance, high strength, etc.

VG10, Damascus steel, powder steel are all well-known alloy steel. VG10 contains 0.95%-1.05% carbon and 14.5%-15.5% chromium, qualified to be high carbon stainless steel; Damascus steel is made of two different soft and hard steels, ensuring both sharpness and retention; Carbon content in powder steel can reach up to 1.5%, sharper than carbon steel. The price will also be much higher than VG10, even twice as much.

Nowadays lots of Japanese Santoku Knives are made od alloy steel. 

In addition, there are clamped steels such as Damascus steel, the center of which is made of harder steel, usually AUS-10 and VG10. Others are made of triple steel, like the “sandwich steel”, where the center of the blade is harder and the two sides are made of a more rust-resistant steel.


Sharpness: ceramic knives > carbon steel knives > alloy steel knives

Rust resistance: ceramic knife > alloy steel knife > carbon steel knife. Ceramic undoubtedly will not rust; Alloy will generally undergo anti-rust treatment. Usual cleaning after the basic will not rust; Carbon steel knife requires careful care.

Retention: ceramic knife > carbon steel knife > alloy steel knife. retention is determined by the hardness of knives. The higher the hardness, the less likely to become blunt.

Generally speaking, for daily family use alloy steel outperforms the other two.

Of course there’re other important factors to consider when choosing a Japanese Santoku Knife. Hopefully this article gives you a general idea of it! 

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