Carbon steel knives are popular among chefs and people who love to cook for a number of reasons, but they're also much more expensive than stainless steel. To find out if the performance delta was worth the price, America's Test Kitchen brought some serious science to bear. Here's what they found.
The video above is worth watching they put carbon steel knives and stainless steel knives under serious duress and repetitive testing to see which ones dull and lose their edge faster with regular use, doing everything from cutting up chickens to dicing onions to some tests we've described before, like slicing through sheets of paper to test sharpness. They even put them up against glass cutting boards -- the bane of all knives everywhere. Then they take them to MIT's digital imaging centre for comparison, and then again to the Boston University Photonics Center and put them under an electron microscope to take an even closer look.
They tested a handful of carbon steel knives, and compared them against their budget favourite, the Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch Chef's Knife. The Victorinox held its own against their top performing carbon steel knife in test after test, and only started to flag after simulated months of stressful, regular use.
The ultimate conclusion was that carbon steel will hold its own longer and is more durable than stainless steel, so it's worth it, but only if you have the extra cash to throw at those significantly more expensive carbon steel knives. Plus, you have to pick a good carbon steel knife too -- not every carbon steel is better than all stainless steel knives, and in fact, many are much worse and cost more.