There is no doubt that knives keep evolving in terms of functionality, material, design, and structure. This is the reason there is always a debate going on about what metal is best for knives. One of the most fervently discussed topics when it comes to the material utilized in knives is titanium knives vs. steel knives. Every person owning a knife knows that it is the blade that makes or breaks a knife. The primary focus while buying a knife should be on the material with which the knife blade is constructed. Even if both titanium and steel knives have their advantages, shortcomings, different designs, and variations, it is of utmost importance to have a general knowledge about these blade materials. Given below is a breakdown of 2 of the most utilized knife blade materials, i.e., Titanium and Steel.
Titanium is a transitional metal that was discovered in the late 18th century by a non-professional Cornish geologist William Gregor. This abundant chemical element was named after the Greek mythology’s Titans and is known to be extracted from sand or a particular black ore found in various regions of the world. Due to their extraordinary strength and durability, the alloys of titanium are being utilized progressively in several industries, including daily tools, aerospace, manufacturing, automotive, and marine, for the past few decades. When it comes to knives, titanium is believed to be one of the most fabulous materials due to its comfort in handling, durable nature, long-lasting and design.
Titanium blades first came into play as an alternative to diving knives. The property of titanium to resist corrosion and its toughness made it an ideal fit for underwater activities like cutting strong ropes and coral pieces, cutting shells, splitting wood elements hardened due to exposure to prolonged saltwater, etc. Titanium knives even attracted military personnel due to their non-magnetic properties that helped them deal with the magnetic sea mines on their way. In addition, Titanium became a part of the military industry by serving as a means of survival and defense-demanding conditions.
Due to its properties and increasing popularity, Titanium became one of the most selling knives during that era. Within no time, Titanium knives earned a place in kitchens as well due to the long-lasting nature of this metal. People also started utilizing titanium knives for camping and hunting purposes. This is because it acted as a reliable tool in situations where knives are less likely to get proper cleaning and care like camping, boating, or hunting.
An alloy is a mixture of different elements included in a metal. Titanium alloys are quite famous for being aerospace-grade. Two of the well-known alloys of titanium, Ti4Al4V or Ti6Al4V, finds application in the manufacturing of high-end knives and assorted EDC gear. The composition of both alloys are found to be similar except for the amount of titanium used, i.e., 89% to 90% in Ti4Al4V and 88% to 91% in Ti6Al4V along with 6% aluminum, 4% vanadium, 0.25% iron, and 0.2% oxygen in both. Ti6Al4V or Grade 5 alloy of titanium is frequently in use in various industries such as aerospace, jewelry, high-end sporting items such as knives, medical implants, marine, and automotive.
Pros And Cons Of Titanium Knives
- Strong and hard
- Looks very sleek and nice
- Resistant to wear and difficult to scratch
- Available in many patterns and looks
- Requires frequent sharpening
- It doesn’t hold an edge very well
Why Should You Buy A Titanium Knife
It would be a wise decision to add a titanium knife to your artistic or functional collection if you are looking for something long-lasting as well as stylish. Titanium has a lot of promising characteristics, making it perfect for countless applications. Here’s why you should consider buying a titanium knife:
1. Resilient: Titanium, when exposed to different elements like chlorine, hot nitric acid, extreme temperatures, or saltwater, produces titanium oxides. This titanium oxide forms a layer on the titanium and acts as a strong and durable that safeguards the pure titanium beneath it from further corrosion.
2. Stylish: Since titanium is a highly reactive metal, its physical properties can be altered easily via external influences. The surface of titanium can be made visually more appealing by heat-treating it or dipping it into an electrolyte solution with positive and negatively charged colors. Usually, the intensity of charge or heat can be optimized depending on its further application. This helps in giving color to the handle’s surface.
3. Low Conductivity: Though highly reactive, titanium possesses very low thermal and electrical conductivity. This keeps us safe from any significant electrical risks while using.
4. Resistant to Corrosion and Rusting: We know that almost all metals are vulnerable to corrosion and rusting. This is because they break down when exposed to unfavorable elements such as extreme temperatures, wet substances, and acidic items. However, pure titanium is resistant to corrosion and rusting from chemicals, gases, saltwater, and acids due to the oxide barrier formed over it. But we cannot ignore the fact that it is very rare to find such pure-grade titanium as most of the titanium items and parts are comprised of titanium alloys.
5. Lightweight: Do you know that titanium is said to be 45% lighter than steel? Because of low density, the titanium alloys are very lighter in weight, and their strength-to-weight ratio is superior to steel or ceramic. This low-density feature helps to retain the weight of a knife within a reasonable margin. This, in turn, provides a perfect grip as well as comfort in carrying it.
6. Durable: Knives made out of titanium are stronger than steel knives and are known to have high tensile strength. These knives do not break even under heavy pressure.
7. Hard: Titanium knives are so hard and strong that it doesn’t dent and ding while storing or utilizing them. Even if you drop your titanium knife on a hard ceramic floor, it won’t even get a scratch because titanium is nearly unbreakable.
8. Thermal stability: Titanium has proven to be extremely stable in extreme temperatures and does not break even in sub-zero temperatures. Being tough indicates that the material is relatively resistant to chipping or breaking under stress or impact. However, due to this firmness, a titanium alloy knife is useful in any weather condition, unlike steel or a ceramic knife.
9. Resistant to Abrasion: Due to the formation of the titanium oxide layer, titanium acquires the property of self-healing. This means it will generate a titanium oxide layer on itself upon scratching a titanium blade. Thus, it is immune to abrasions caused by ice, sand, dirt, nylon, mud, and rope.
10. Highly Ductile and flexible: Titanium is highly ductile, which means that even if you stretch titanium into thin strips, it won’t become brittle in the process. It will maintain its tensile stress during such situations. You can also bend or flex titanium repeatedly without rupturing it. This property is put into use while shaping a particular titanium knife.
11. Non-toxic/Bio-Compatible: Touching and using titanium will never cause any kind of harm to you as it is a non-toxic and biologically inert metal. Due to this property, titanium is utilized in several medical implants and fasteners to reduce irritation.
12. Non-magnetic: Titanium does not possess any kind of magnetic property and is known to be magnetically inert. It is this non-magnetic nature of Titanium that made it popular among Navy personnel.
There lies a hell and heaven difference between people who like steel and are knowledgeable of steel and those who have worked with it throughout their lives. You will never find steel on the periodic table as it’s a man-made material made of several elements. The different elements utilized in crafting steel give it a wide range of properties. The most common elements employed in making steel involves:
- Iron: Primary ingredient
- Carbon: Hardening element
- Chromium: Makes the steel stainless and resistant to corrosion
- Cobalt: Provides strength to the blade
- Tungsten and Vanadium: Contributes to the resistance to wear.
- Molybdenum: Makes steel durable even at extremely high temperatures
- Manganese: Gives toughness to the steel. However, it makes the steel a bit brittle as well.
Steel has a diverse range of applications attributed to its availability in different types. As declared by the World Steel Association, over 1.8 million tons of steel were delivered worldwide in 2021 with more than 3,500 unique grades. Different types of steel available in commercial markets are given below:
1. Carbon steel: Carbon steel makes up about 90% of the total steel production across the globe. These steels are exceptionally durable and are further divided into 3 types: low (.30% or less), medium (between .30% and .60%), and high (between .60% and 1.5%). However, carbon steel is more likely to be corroded and appears to be dull.
2. Stainless steel: You must have come across the term “stainless steel” several times. This variety of steel is famous for having a shinier surface due to the high amount of chromium used in its making. Stainless steels are immune to rust and corrosion. A stainless-steel knife consists of carbon and chromium.
3. Alloy steel: Comprise of alloying elements such as nickel, chromium, manganese, etc. These elements are manipulated according to steel’s practical application. Alloy steels are often used in electronics, pipes, or auto parts.
4. Tool steel: This category of steel is utilized in the making of tools. Tool steels are highly heat resistant and hard due to the involvement of elements like tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium.
Pros And Cons Of Steel Knives
- Easily available
- Versatile in nature
- Retains a sharp edge for a longer time
- Easy to sharpen
- Can dent or bent
Why Should You Buy A Steel Knife?
Steel has been utilized for making blades from the days of yore. A steel knife is assumed to be a staple in your kitchen as a part of your well-renowned hosting and cooking skills. Steel knives have made their name in the world of amateur as well as professional chefs due to their ability to cut through anything, be it a slice of frozen meat or a bone. It is quite easy to store a steel blade, and it also sticks to a metal knife magnet. A lot of characteristic properties of steel knives are interdependent. It is these unique features that set steel knives apart from other materials.
The sharpness of a knife is what makes it worthwhile. And the hardness of a knife determines the ability to retain its edge. Steel knives are best known for holding on to their edges for a long time. These knives are quite easy to sharpen as well. Have you ever notices that when you utilized your knife frequently, its immunity from rusting gets reduced? It happens due to the interaction of the material with oxygen and moisture when exposed to such an environment. However, when mixed with chromium, a steel knife becomes less likely to rust for a while. A lot of variety of steel knives excel at being tough as well.
Steel knives are fairly easy to find since steel is a common material. This is the reason a steel knife is cheaper than a titanium knife. Although the price varies as per the quality of steel and its design, there are enough cost-effective options for steel blades to attract buyers. One of the most exciting factors of steel knives is that they come in a myriad of metal mixes, styles, and characteristics.
When it comes to buying a knife, you have to consider several factors. Especially when you are confused between Titanium and Steel, both offer a wide range of advantages and services. It all zeroes down to how you want to put your knife into use. By now, you must have got an overall idea about the properties, pros, and cons of both Titanium and Steel knives.
Titanium knife suits the best for people who are into hunting, camping, fishing, etc., as these knives are resistant to corrosion, rust, abrasion. With titanium blades, loss of sharp edge is not an issue. Whereas if we look at steel knives, they are perfect for kitchen tasks. Their versatility, low cost, ability to retain the edges for a longer period makes them popular among chefs and home-makers. Nevertheless, we suggest you focus on buying a knife that can be your best friend in the kitchen as well as your greatest tool in the outdoors.