I just got a new All Clad chef's knife that is carbon steel. I've read that carbon steel knives require a lot of maintenance like wiping twice after every single use(once with a damp cloth and again with a dry cloth) and not leaving it in the sink for even a minute. I was thinking of buying an oil for carbon steel, but I've read that carbon steel SHOULD develop a patina. So should I buy this oil? Is that patina really a good thing?

  • Why would you buy a carbon steel knife if you are not going to bother with maitenance?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 7:44
  • Do you want it to be useful, or pretty?
    – Mołot
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


I write it as a seasoned carbon steel knife user and a hobbyist knifemaker.

Use edible oil or nothing

Safety first. You can use any oil as long as you are really, really sure you wouldn't mind it added to your food.

Patina is good.

There are two kinds of iron oxide. Let's call them red (rust) and black (patina). Black one is good.

  • It mitigates red rust
  • It's less sticky
  • It's mostly tasteless

It's main drawback - it's ugly.

Photo of my knife

This is my everyday carbon steel knife. It's scrached and developed patina. It does not mind being used for cooking. It no longer requires wiping every minute, it can well be washed and dried after few hours.

How to develop good patina?

First, the less patina you already have, the slower you need to go. Don't keep virgin steel wet too long. Only after it begins to darken you can allow it to stay wet longer.

Remove red rust when you see it. But don't just use scrubber. If you want to develop patina fast, you should boil your knfe's blade for ten or twenty minutes when you see it getting red. This will convert some red to black. Then gently scrub the rest of red from your blade. If you don't want to boil, just gently remove rust, carefully not destroying patina.

If you want to artificially develop patina, dijon mustard is especially good for that. Few hours in warm place should do the job. Lemon juice is not half bad, either.

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