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How to remove rust from carbon steel knives?

knife rust

No matter where you use your knife in the home, hunting or outdoors, your knife should be sharp and smooth. Because knives are regularly exposed to acidic food, water, and dirt, their metal blades are at risk of developing rust. Carbon steel knives are especially prone to rusting since they contain carbon in their composition. The carbon content of these knives means the owner will have to remove rust from the blade at some point. 

No matter how careful you are when using a carbon steel knife, your blade may still rust over time. So, if you want to continue using a carbon steel blade regularly, you must know how to remove rust from its surface. Removing rust from these carbon knives is not very difficult, and you can do it all quickly. 

This article will cover all the methods proven to get rid of rust from this simple yet durable steel. If you are looking for ways to make your carbon steel blade rust-free, then you are in the right place, and we suggest you keep reading. 

knife rust remove

Why are carbon steel knives more susceptible to rusting?

Before we provide the solutions to remove rust from a carbon steel knife, we must understand why these knives rust so quickly. Carbon steel blades are more rigid and can withstand rough usage. However, the exact composition of these blades, which makes them so durable, also makes them prone to rust. 

When a carbon steel knife is exposed to moisture, heat, acids, and other chemicals, the carbon inside the knife’s blade reacts to these elements. The higher the carbon content of a knife, the more likely it is to develop rust. 

In most cases, the carbon content of a carbon steel knife is less than 2%. However, even such a low amount of carbon makes the blade highly reactive to moisture, acid, and other elements. Therefore, no matter how much care you take when using a carbon steel knife, you can still expect it to rust. So, the only way to keep using it regularly is to remove the rust as it builds up. 

How to remove rust from a high-carbon steel blade?

Now that you understand why a carbon steel knife is more prone to rust, it is time to answer the critical question. There are three ways to get rid of rust from your high-carbon knife:

Remove rust using vinegar

Vinegar is known for dissolving rust. So, there is no surprise that this household ingredient is also commonly used to remove rust from high-carbon knives. With that said, using vinegar to dissolve rust off a knife requires extreme care because it can become stained if the blade is overexposed to the liquid.

You will need white vinegar and a paper towel to remove rust using this method. 

Step 1. Pour enough white vinegar into a bowl to soak the paper towel. 

Step 2. Next, wipe the knife using a clean cloth to clean any residue. 

Step 3. Now wrap the paper towel soaked in white vinegar around the knife’s blade. 

Make sure the knife doesn’t remain wrapped in a vinegar-soaked paper towel for more than 5 minutes, as it can cause the blade to develop discoloration. 

Step 4. Once 5 minutes have passed, simply remove the knife from the paper towel and wipe the leftover vinegar off using a sponge.

remove rust knife using vinegar

This method can remove even the most challenging rust patches from your knife; however, if the rust is not gone after you complete the process once, you may need to repeat the process again. 

Baking soda to remove rust

Similar to vinegar, baking soda is another effective method. Just like the previous method, you must clean the knife up before applying the baking soda to it. 

remove rust with baking soda

Step 1. Once the knife is clean, add a small amount of baking soda to water until the mixture turns into a paste.

Step 2. Now take the clean knife, put it on a table or other level surface, and apply the baking soda mixture to the side of the knife. Let the mixture sit on the blade for a few minutes and use a scrubbing pad to scrub off any rust that the baking soda mixture has loosened up. 

Step 3. When you have completed the process on one side, flip the knife over and apply the baking soda mixture to the other side of the blade. Scrub the other side with a scrubbing pad to remove all the rust. Inspect the knife and repeat the process till the rust is gone.

If you don’t remove all the rust on the first go, you can always add more mixture and scrub the sides again to completely remove rust stains. This method of removing rust from a high-carbon knife is much gentler than vinegar. To preserve the integrity of an especially expensive blade, you can use aluminum foil instead of the scrubbing pad to remove rust because it is less coarse and won’t leave marks on the blade. 

Removing rust using a potato

If your carbon steel knife has very moderate amounts of rust, you can use a potato to remove it. Remember that this method is not as effective as the vinegar and baking soda methods. However, this method does shine when it comes to the safety of your blade. There is minimal risk of discoloration or damage to your knife when using the potato method. 

The method for removing carbon knife rust using potatoes is straightforward. All you have to do is:

Step 1. Pierce a potato with your knife and ensure the potato covers the rusted sections. You can use multiple potatoes when using a long blade. 

Step 2. Leave the blade inside the potato for around an hour and when the required time has passed take the knife out and inspect the blade. If the rust spots were light, they would have been removed by now. 

Step 3. Simply wipe the blade off with a sponge and start using your knife. 

Removing rust from knife using a potato


Removing rust from a carbon steel blade is simple, and you can do it at home using materials and tools you can find in your kitchen. If you think that maintaining a carbon steel knife is difficult or expensive, this article should clear this misconception. 

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