Most people do not expect stainless steel (SS) to get rusted since it is "stainless". However, they do not realize that any steel item which is not properly maintained will develop some rust including the best knives made from stainless steel. So after confirming that rusting of stainless steel is normal, information is provided on how to prevent rusting, understanding why the knives are getting rusty and the best way to remove the rust which is formed.
Before removing the rust from the knife, you should clean the knife to remove dirt. Then baking soda should be mixed with water to form a paste. The paste should then be applied to the rusted surface for one hour. Rub the surface with a toothbrush, rinse the knife in water and then dry the knife properly.
Table of Contents
- Rusting of stainless steel
- Most effective way of removing rust from stainless steel products
- Alternative rust removal method
- Other rust removal methods
- Tips for stainless steel knife maintenance and care
- Frequently Asked Questions
Rusting of stainless steel
Usually most grades of stainless steel are an alloy of various elements like iron, at least 10.5% chromium, other alloying metals like nickel and carbon. The chromium in the steel forms the protective layer of chromium oxide on the top surface, sealing it and preventing further oxidation. Usually if the top layer of chromium oxide which protects the steel gets damaged or cannot protect the other layers, another layer of chromium oxide is automatically generated. However, in some cases, the enviromental conditions prevent regeneration of the chromium oxide layer, resulting in rust formation. In kitchens, rust is formed because when steel is exposed to high moisture levels or the layer of chromium oxide is damaged. Additionally some acids in the food and detergents used for cleaning may damage the protective top layer in stainless steel.
Additionally extreme temperature or heat may also cause rusting. In salty environments, chloride levels are high or contact with other metals may also result in rusting.
Most effective way of removing rust from stainless steel products
The best ingredient for removing rust from steel and other metals is baking soda, which also has a large number of other applications and uses. Hence every home should have some baking soda readily available. Families who do not have this extremely useful ingredient should arrange to procure it at the earliest, so that it can be utilized for removing rust and other applications. Baking soda is preferred compared to other materials since it is not abrasive and will not damage the top surface. It is also effective for removing stains which are not very dark and for thinner metal
The recommended ingredients for rust removal are a quarter cup baking soda, cloth, toothbrush and warm water. The step wise procedure is described below
- The knife should be cleaned properly to remove dirt preferably using a cleaning solution and soft cloth. If there is a layer of dirt on the knife, all the rust below it may not be removed.
- The baking soda and water should be mixed to form a thick paste. The water should be added slowly to the baking soda, so that the thickness of the paste is adequate.
- spread the paste over the rusted steel surface or knife blade. The rust stains or rust spots should be covered completely with the paste for at least one hour
- The knife blade, especially the rusted area, should be brushed with a toothbrush. In case a thicker layer of rust is formed a wire brush made from stainless steel should be used.
- Only clean water should be used to rinse the paste from the knife blade or stainless steel. After this a soft cloth should be used to dry the knife/steel surface.
Alternative rust removal method
Dalstrong rust remover (https://dalstrong.com/products/rust-eraser) is highly recommended by experts since it is easier to user, cleaner, and uses the latest technology. It can be used for all stainless steel items like knives, spatulas, scissors. The rust eraser is also effective for stain removal from maintenance tools like whetstone. A specially formulated compound is used for making the rust remover tool, so that it will remove the rust from the steel and other surfaces especially knife blades. The rust eraser is usually compact, similar in size to erasers used in school and it is very easy to use the eraser.
High carbon knives like the extremely popular 8 inch chef's knife (https://dalstrong.com/products/gs-8-in-chef) in the Gladiator series of knives can be easily cleaned using this eraser. Additionally this rust eraser can also be used for a variety of tools manufactured using stainless steel like damascus steel and Aus-10 steel.
- all the kitchen items cleaned will look shiny and like new
-designed using the best quality ingredients and technology for greater effectiveness
- very easy to remove any scuff or corrosion from the steel using the eraser
- also effective for cleaning the whetstone, removing stains
- another major advantage is that logos, engravings on the steel product will be not be scratched or damaged when the rust eraser is used
- priced very reasonable, so everyone can afford it
- compact in size, so does not require much storage space when not in use.
- In addition to knives, the eraser can be used for a variety of stainless steel items in the homes like spatulas, cast-iron pans and scissors.
-If the user wishes to remove watermarks from stainless steel, he will have to purchase a product which is specifically designed for watermark removal.
- Since the rust eraser may remove some paint, users should carefully use it on painted surfaces to avoid damaging them.
- The rust eraser is mainly used on kitchen tools like knives, since it is small in size. However the compact eraser may not be very suitable for removing rust from larger utensils and items.
Guidelines for using the dust eraser from Dalstrong
- the dust eraser should be soaked in water for at least five minutes
- the stain on the knife should be then rubbed with the eraser. However while rubbing the knife should be held firmly to prevent slipping, and kept on a surface which is flat. The user should rub the eraser in the direction of the steel blade's grain, and move towards the edge, specifically the knife used has a satin finish.
- Water may have to be applied on the knife and eraser.
- the knife should be rinsed using warm water
- do not apply too much pressure while using the eraser, and it should be only applied on rusted areas
Other rust removal methods
Like baking soda, white vinegar is extensively used for home remedies. It contains acetic acid, which helps in rust removal. Avoid using other types of vinegar since they may cause stains. The stainless steel (SS) product should be submerged in white vinegar for less than five minutes. If the knives are immersed in vinegar for very long, the knife blade may get damaged. If required, the knife blade should be rubbed, else the vinegar should be washed away with clean water. The knife should then be dried. If there is some rust remaining, an alternate rust removal method like baking soda can be used
Lemon juice has sufficient acid for cleaning stainless steel, especially if combined with baking soda,salt which complement it. The rust stain is covered with salt, and then lemon juice is applied on top, and remains for two hours, before cleaning it off. Alternately instead of mixing baking soda with water, lemon juice is used for better rust removal.
Rust can be removed using Tartaric acid, which is mixed with lemon juice and applied using a scrub or sponge. After some time, the knife is rinsed with water and dried.
Oxalic acid can be safely used for removing rust from stainless steel and it is more suitable for larger items like SS pans. It can be applied directly, or a cleaning product which contains oxalic acid can be used.
Dish soap with potato
Since potatoes have oxalic acid they can be used for rust removal. The potato is cut in half, soap and salt is applied to the potato and it is rubbed against the rusted surface
A solution of citric acid should be sprayed on the steel item to cover it . After some time,the steel knife should be wiped,rinsed clean and dried. If some rust remains, additional pressure should be used. Since some coatings may be damaged by citric acid, it is recommended for cleaning all steel product.
Phosphoric acid is recommended for rust removal from contaminated carbon steel. The user should wear gloves, use a sponge for applying phosphoric acid and brush. Ammonia will be required for neutralizing and removing the acid. Water is then used to rinse away the ammonia.
Tips for stainless steel knife maintenance and care
Instead of spending time removing rust, it is better to prevent rust formation. While stainless steel knives are durable and rust resistant, some tips for proper care are listed below.
- Moisture is the main cause of rust. So knives should not be stored in damp places or left in a sink, they should be kept dry and clean.
- Though knives are dishwasher safe, it is advisable to avoid using dishwashers or reducing the time in the dishwasher. The dishwasher temperature and chemicals can damage the knife
- Dish soap or a solution of mild soap with warm water are the ideal way to clean the stainless steel utensils, knives
- The surface should be rubbed using a cloth, the soap is removed with another cloth and a paper towel or microfiber cloth should be used for drying the steel surface properly
- if cleaning products are being used avoid cleaners containing chlorides, since they are often abrasive, damaging the protective layer of chrome oxide on the blade.
- Avoid using abrasive cleaning products like steel wool, which cause scratches on the knife surface, damaging their finish which results in corrosion
- Do not store cast iron items with the knives
- Knives should be kept away from high temperatures, some polishing products for stainless steel may cause discoloration if more heat is applied.
- Mineral salts in water, detergents may also cause knife damage
- Since salt, vinegar, acidic foods in other utensils can cause stains and pitting in the knives, the knives should be washed separately and immediately after being used.
-Unlike carbon steel,oiling is not essential for stainless steel. However,experts recommend that a a neutral oil should be applied twice or thrice a year to the knives
- After the stains and rust are removed from the knife, a Whetstone set ( #400/#1000 grit) (https://dalstrong.com/collections/whetstones) should be used for sharpening it and the edge should be straightened using a honing rod (https://dalstrong.com/collections/honing-rods). This will make the knife sharp like a new knife.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does steel differ from metals
Metal is a natural element and is found in the form of ores in earth. Steel is manufactured in steel mills combining metals like iron, chromium and other elements. Steel is usually stronger and harder than most metals.
How is corrosion different from rust?
Corrosion is the process due to which metal deteriorates, and rust is one type of corrosion, which only occurs in iron and iron alloys.
Can WD-40 be used from removing rust from stainless steel?
While WD-40 can be used for stainless steel rust removal without causing surface damage, it is not recommended for rust removal from knives and other utensils using for cooking.
Does aluminium get rusted?
Aluminium may get corroded,it does not get rusted.
Which products should not be used to clean stainless steel?
Abrasive solutions, bleach or chlorine and steel wool,similar textures should not be used for cleaning, since they cause scratches on the steel
what is the best way to remove black stains from steel?
Since oxidation makes the stainless steel black, baking soda or vinegar cleaning technique is usually effective
What are the stain removal methods for steel knives?
Usually most stains can be removed using home remedies for cleaning like vinegar,baking soda, lemon juice discussed above
what products should be used for rust removal from steel appliances
For removing dust and cleaning appliances, white vinegar can be used. For rust which cannot be easily removed, a rust cleaner containing oxalic acid is recommended.
How frequently should a steel knife be sharpened?
The sharpness of a knife depends on how frequently it is being used. If the knife is used regularly, a whetstone can be used to sharpen the knife at least a few times every year.