How to Sharpen Ceramic Knives Properly

How to Sharpen Ceramic Knives Properly

Why do you need to know how to sharpen ceramic knives? Perhaps you own one or more of these lightweight, rust-free counterparts to metal knives. Maybe you’ve heard that ceramic knives never get dull. Unfortunately, this is a myth. Sure, ceramic blades boast a reputation for staying sharp longer than metal blades do, but nothing (not even a ceramic knife’s razor-like edge) lasts forever.

No doubt about it.
Made from zirconium dioxide (also known as zirconia), ceramic blades measure 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. The hardest mineral–diamond–measures 10 and hardened steel blades measure 7.5 to 8. Under normal use, ceramic knives retain their edge for a long time but still need proper sharpening.

But wait:
Unless you’re already skilled at manually sharpening knives, you might be intimidated by sharpening your ceramic knives. In such case, you can always check to see if your ceramic knife’s manufacturer will sharpen it.

Spencer Lowe
Today’s expert
Spencer Lowe

How We Decided

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Spencer Lowe
Today’s expert
Spencer Lowe

Spencer Lowe is a freelancer writing out of Lewiston, Idaho. He has written articles on banks, politics, and toilets--some of which have gone viral.

Spencer has been collecting toys since childhood. He has a deep connection with the force and is a crack nerf shot.

Considerations

Get acquainted with ceramic knife sharpening tools

If you want to avoid the hassle and expense of sending your ceramic knives out for professional sharpening, don’t worry because there are at-home options. Just be sure to check your ceramic knife’s warranty before proceeding with caution.

how to knife - How to Sharpen Ceramic Knives Properly

Know the difference

It's easy to be confused by the terms "ceramic rod knife sharpener" or "ceramic knife sharpener rod". You don't want to use these on ceramic knives. Made from and using ceramic as an abrasive, these rods are designed for sharpening metal blades, which are softer. Ceramic rods are not hard enough to sharpen ceramic knife blades.

What does this mean for you?

Instead, look for an electric knife sharpener designed to work on ceramic knives. Some electric knife sharpeners sharpen both metal and ceramic knives; some don’t.

You see:

Diamonds are not just a girl’s best friend–diamonds are one of the industry’s best friends. The hardest naturally occurring mineral, diamond is able to cut through any material, like metal and rock. So look for an electric knife sharpener with diamond abrasives on wheels that grind against the blade during sharpening. After all, ceramic blades are made of zirconia, which is diamond’s less hard jewelry “twin.”

An electric knife sharpener for ceramic knives has diamond abrasives, should be labeled (on the box and in the instructions) to specify that it sharpens ceramic knives, and may be pricier than other electric knife sharpeners. Less expensive models usually lack diamonds, but instead, have ceramic or tungsten carbide abrasives, which are sharp enough for metal but not ceramic.

Let’s break it down:

Bestazy article 9 Cutting Electric Knife Sharpener Reviews — Stay Sharp in 2018 explains how an electric knife sharpener works. An electric knife sharpener has one to four slots for different levels of coarseness (like sandpaper). Each slot represents a stage in the sharpening process. Internal abrasive discs spin and rub against the blade to sharpen its edge. The first slot is for pre-sharpening a dull and/or nicked knife. The second is for more refined sharpening. And the third is for honing and polishing.

Everything You Need To Sharpen Your Ceramic Knives

To sharpen your ceramic knife effectively, you need:

  • A clean cloth
  • A ceramic knife or knives
  • An electric knife sharpener–with diamond abrasives–specifically able to handle ceramic knives
  • Heavy gloves for protection (Kevlar or thick work models–optional but recommended for safety)

How To Sharpen Ceramic Knives

  1. Wash and dry the knife. You’ll want the best contact between its surface and sharpener’s abrasives. Also, you’ll want to keep the electric knife sharpener’s internal machinery clean and free of food debris.
  2. Read and follow your electric knife sharpener’s instructions carefully to know which slots to use, since they will vary between makes and models. For best practices, always remember to:
  3. Wash and dry the knife off when you think the blade is sharp enough.
  4. Test the blade: slice a piece of fruit, like a lemon with the skin still on.
  5. If the blade slices smoothly and easily through the fruit, your blade is sharp enough. Move to step 6. If not, repeat steps 1-4.
  6. Clean the electric knife sharpener according to its directions. Some models open up for cleaning the wheels with a brush (e.g., a toothbrush). Wipe the outside of the electric knife sharpener with damp cloth only. Don’t rinse or submerge it.

You might be wondering…

Why do I need an electric knife sharpener to sharpen ceramic knives? Sharpening ceramic knives by hand can be very tricky unless you are already experienced and skilled in sharpening any knives (metal or ceramic) manually.
Plus, you’ll need special tools as we noted earlier. Not all knife sharpeners can handle ceramic blades. Use the wrong one and you could end up chipping your blade. And you don’t want to ruin them!

Guess what?

There is a manual knife sharpener that works on ceramic knives: the Fubosi Knife Sharpener – Professional Kitchen Knife Sharpener. With an ergonomic ABS plastic handle and a non-slip base, this effective tool can be used whether you’re left-handed or right-handed. First, read the manufacturer’s directions to familiarize yourself with the recommended process.

Then…

  1. Hold the knife sharpener’s handle firmly with one hand.
  2. With the other hand, gently pull your knife downward through the sharpener with slight (not too much!) downward pressure. Do this in one direction ONLY (not backward and forward). Do this several times in the appropriate slots or stages.
Chef’s Choice 15 XV Trizor Professional Electric Knife Sharpener

Fubosi Knife Sharpener – Professional Kitchen Knife Sharpener’s three-stage design includes a coarse stage for dull or damaged knives, a fine stage for eliminating burrs or polishing edges, and a ceramic stage for ceramic knives. After using this sharpener, you can clean it by taking out the detachable sharpener head and flushing it with water.

Electric Models that Sharpen Ceramic Knives

If you’re apprehensive about risking your ceramic knives by manually sharpening them. The best solution is to use an electric model. Luckily, four models from our Electric Knife Sharpener Reviews are designed to work on ceramic knives as well as metal knives. All fitted with diamond abrasives, they are:

Chef’s Choice 15 XV Trizor Professional Electric Knife Sharpener

Chef’s Choice 15 XV Trizor Professional Electric Knife Sharpener

Chef’s Choice AngleSelect1520 Diamond Hone Electric Knife Sharpener

Chef’s Choice AngleSelect1520 Diamond Hone Electric Knife Sharpener

Electric Diamond Knife Sharpener

Electric Diamond Knife Sharpener

Chef’s Choice 290 Hybrid AngelSelect 15/20 Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener

Chef’s Choice 290 Hybrid AngelSelect 15/20 Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener

But wait, there’s more…

The Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener, the top-rated model, can be fitted with a diamond abrasive belt to sharpen ceramic knives. No need to purchase a separate sharpener just for ceramic knives; just look for the Work Sharp Diamond Belt Accessory Kit.

One warning from the manufacturer:

Don’t use these diamond belts with metal blades. The belts won’t hurt your knives, but metal blades will clog the belts and make them useless. Each Work Sharp Diamond Belt Accessory Kit includes one coarse diamond belt (180 grit) for repairing ceramic knives and one fine diamond belt (1500 grit) for honing and sharpening ceramic knives.

Why Ceramic Knives?

Although often more expensive than metal knives, ceramic knives may be worth the price because they are:

On the other hand,
Ceramic blades are very brittle, not malleable like metal knives. They easily chip and, when dropped, can shatter. Therefore, ceramic knives need to be handled carefully in the kitchen, according to professors who teach knife skills at Utah State University Cooperative Extension.

Ceramic knives should not be used for cutting bones, cracking nuts, or smashing (e.g., garlic and herbs with the side of the blade) against hard surfaces.

What does this mean?

Although ceramic knives slice smoothly and easily (“like butter!”), they aren’t very versatile in the kitchen. Ceramic knives should not be used on frozen or hard foods. Stick with soft foods (like boneless meats and some fruits and vegetables). If you are looking for an all-purpose knife, you won’t want a ceramic model.

How to Care for Ceramic Knives

So now that you know about ceramic knives’ quirks, here are some tips for making sure they last a long time:

  • use them for slicing, not chopping or cutting with force
  • cut straight up and down–avoid twisting or flexing
  • use with moderate pressure, not force–you don’t want to snap the blade
  • don’t use them for cutting boxes
  • don’t use them for prying something open or apart
  • don’t use them on hard cutting boards made of glass or marble–plastic, wood, and bamboo cutting boards are better choices
  • hand wash them­–don’t put them in the dishwasher where they might knock against other objects and chip
  • store them in a bamboo knife block or protective sleeve to prevent contact with other utensils
  • avoid tossing them into the sink (easy to forget!)

Safe Disposal of Ceramic Knives

The day finally arrives when your ceramic knife has finally outlived its usefulness–but what should you do? Unlike metal blades, ceramic blades are not recyclable. So you should wrap the knife in thick material (e.g., cardboard, newspaper, bubble wrap) and seal it in a box before tossing. In our research, we have found that some people make their own “sharps” container with thick plastic tub, like an empty Coffee-mate creamer container, to dispose of old knives.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to sharpen ceramic knives, you are ready for one or an entire set. Ceramic knives come in all different sizes, shapes, and even colors! Browse here for some utilitarian and good-looking ceramic knife sets to brighten up your kitchen and make cooking fun.


FAQ
Faq

Frequently asked questions

Q:

How long can I go without sharpening my ceramic knife?

Perhaps months or years. Of course, this depends on how much you use your ceramic knife. You can definitely go longer than if you were using a metal knife for the same purposes.

Q:

Can I cut bread and cheese with a ceramic knife?

Because you have to push down with force when cutting bread and cheese, we do not recommend using a ceramic knife. You don’t want to snap the blade.


The team
The team

We made this review

Helen Mao
Writer Helen Mao
Tiffany Mueller
Editorial Director Tiffany Mueller
Kate Kalanchuk
Content Manager Kate Kalanchuk
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