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HIGH CARBON STEEL KNIFE MAINTENANCE: A guide to caring for, and maintaining your high-carbon steel knives.


Distinct from their stainless steel counterparts, high carbon steel knives are celebrated for their superior edge retention, sharpness, and blade strength. The key difference lies in their composition. High carbon steel, as the name suggests, has a higher carbon content, which contributes to the blade’s hardness and ability to hold a sharp edge for longer periods. In contrast, stainless steel knives contain more chromium, making them more resistant to rust and corrosion but often softer meaning they don’t retain their edge like high carbon steel knives. This distinction makes high carbon steel knives a preferred choice for many culinary professionals and enthusiasts.

High-carbon knives will develop a “patina” over time – a coveted look where the stains on the blade, are etched into the steel from acids derived from the food you cut. In this guide, we’ll take you through the essential steps to ensure your high carbon steel knife from Smokin’ Gauchos remains a treasured tool in your kitchen arsenal.

The Uniqueness of High Carbon Steel:
High carbon steel’s ability to maintain a sharp edge offers unmatched strength and durability. This type of steel, used across most of the knives in our range (yes, we do make some stainless knives), is crafted for optimal performance. Understanding that high carbon steel reacts differently than stainless steel is vital. Its unique composition makes it more susceptible to rusting if not properly cared for. However, with appropriate maintenance, your high carbon steel knife will not only perform exceptionally but also develop a rich patina that adds character and tells the story of your culinary journey.

Initial Inspection and Maintenance:
When you receive your Smokin’ Gauchos high carbon steel knife, it’s rare to find it anything less than perfectly sharp. Our knives are meticulously hand-sharpened by skilled artisans. However, if you do encounter a knife that seems less sharp, we recommend a professional sharpening to ensure it meets your expectations.

Daily Care Routine:
A high carbon steel knife requires regular attention to stay in prime condition. Here’s how to care for it daily:

  • Cleaning: Always hand wash with mild soap and hot water after use. NEVER use in a dishwasher.
  • Drying: Dry the knife immediately and thoroughly post-washing to prevent rust.
  • Oiling: Apply a thin layer of food-safe oil, like mineral oil, to the blade after drying. This step is crucial for rust prevention.
  • Honing: Use a honing steel regularly to keep the edge aligned and sharp, ensuring long-lasting performance. This can be done using our Smokin’ Gauchos Honing Steel.

Professional Care and Sharpening:
To maintain its razor-sharp edge, have your high carbon steel knife professionally sharpened every 6-9 months, depending on usage. Local butchers or local engraving shops often offer these services, ensuring your knife performs at its best.

Storage and Handling:
Proper storage is essential. Return the oiled knife straight into the leather sheath it came with or into the knife roll if you have purchased one. Always store your knife in a dry area.


Caring for a high carbon steel knife is an art that reflects your passion for cooking. Following these guidelines ensures your knife not only performs brilliantly but also ages gracefully, adding unique character to your kitchen. Embrace the journey of maintaining your Smokin’ Gauchos high carbon steel knife, and it will continue to be an indispensable ally in your culinary explorations.


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