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Knife Rust

Deep breath...this is the yuppiest thing ever to come out of my mouth:

How do I get (minor) rust off my Sabatier stainless steel bread knife?

It's over. Time for a beer.

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  1. stainless steel wool from the grocery store, like the first one shown here: http://www.reliablepaper.com/Sponges_...

    or fine "000" steel wool at the hardware store.

    1. Wash it off and get on with it.

      1. Barkeepers Friend. I use that to clean my All Clads, removed some rust stains from my knifes as well. Discovered that by accident.


        1. The only time I remember ever getting rust on my Sabatiers was when a housekeeper washed one by hand, then set it in a wet sink to dry with a carbon steel blade sitting on top. The rust just washed off with a wet sponge, but the former housekeeper is still on life suport. Any of the above should do it. How did you get your rust?

          1. alkapal: but won't that scratch it up?

            Sam: WASH it! Gosh, why didn't I think of that??

            jk1002: where do I find barkeepers friend?

            Caroline: just left it in the sink too long, even though I know better.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Jim Leff

              Though it's counterintuitive when you look at it, 000 steel wool is ridiculously fine. It (and even finer 0000 grade) is often used to do final once-over sanding on wood after you've used sandpaper, or to remove minor imperfections in polyurethane finishes.

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Serious: I use a ss Sabatier as well. If any of my knives rust--including and more likely my carbon steel ones--I just wash off with the normal net covered little sponge and some detergent liquid.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Barkeeper's Friend is useful stuff -- it's basically just a mild acid. It comes either in a gold can like a scouring powder can or in a bottle in a creamy-liquid form (I've only used the former, can't speak for the efficacy of the latter). You can probably find it in the same hardware store where you buy your 000 steel wool -- sometimes you can find it in other places with good housewares (Bed, Bath & Beyond carries it) or cleaning supplies departments (I usually buy a three-pack at Smart & Final).

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    BKF is the most useful kitchen cleanser ever! If, for some reason, your knife-rust is resistant to BKF, try Wright's Silver Cream. It's an excellent silver polish that contains silica--it can remove all sorts of marks from metal.

                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                      It is also excellent for cleaning my Calphalon hard annodized skillets when i get carried away with searing and crusting steaks and other stuff. The only other cleanser I'll use is Bon Ami. Neither will damage the finish of the pans. I have also used it on occasion when my carbon steel Sabatiers get left(by others) in the sink. after loud imprecations about carelessness, I give them a swipe with the BKF and a quick rinse, dry and put them back in the rack with no appreciable adverse effect.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I found BKF at my local WalMart this Jan, after getting a new All Clad pan for the holidays. I like the stuff; will now try on other items.

                    3. re: Jim Leff

                      The company also sells online at the normally found price in stores, but with free shipping anywhere in the continental US

                    4. Phosphoric acid is a good thing.

                      Sold for easy application as "naval jelly".

                      While the product's name conjures up images of a contemplative but long-unwashed Buddha, it works. Just wipe on, wipe off, rinse. No abrasion by either silicates or shredded steel.

                      My carbon steel knives get a swipe of naval jelly every once in a while, as do pesky mysterious rust spots on stainless steel.


                      1. Rub the area with a wine cork with a paste of kitchen cleanser (Ajax, Comet, etc. + H2O). This is a technique that Nobu Matsuhisa demonstrated on one of Martha Stewart's TV shows.

                        Or you can by a knife rust eraser for a few bucks from Korin Japanese Trading Co. in NY

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: a priori

                          Like the others have posted, go for BKF or Bon Ami over the abrasive-laden Comet/Ajax/etc. Gets the rust off w/o scratching.

                        2. You can pick Barkeepers friend up at just about any grocery store in the cleaning dept. I've never used it for rust but I use it all the time. I keep four products on the counter at all times, Barkeepers friend, liquid hand soap, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes for counter sanitation. I do prefer the liquid BKF. It's great for keeping stainless pots and pans nice and shiny and clean.

                          000 and 0000 steel wool is easily found at most paint stores or Home Depot in the paint dept. It also is a handy thing to have around, you can use it to polish just about any kind of metal without fear of scratching, I've used it to polish rust off of chrome wheels to things like polishing the aluminum moulding on our golf cart.

                          1. What if you have a major rust problem?

                            No, don't shoot me now -- I can explain: I found a beautiful vintage Sabatier at an estate sale; it fits my hand, is beautifully balanced, and well-constructed and is everything an old Sabatier should be. But, it was left in the garage for, what looks like 20 years, and was a mess (blackened and grimy). I brought it home, for free, no less, because the folks there thought I was just crazy to want this mess at all. And, I've been trying to clean it.

                            Turns out that it was blackened by rust which had aged into a nice thick shell.
                            I soaked it in BKF (which is a miracle worker), scrubbed with steel wool, and after some hours (and peeling fingers) you can actually see the steel... but it's still got rust on it...

                            Anybody have experience with heavily rusted steel? It looks structurally sound; no major pits... How do I get it from mostly rust-free to "food safe"?

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: oryza

                              You might try a extra extra fine emery cloth wheel on a drill. You have to be careful, especially around the edge, as if you rub too hard, you can "wave" the edge. the other thinkg would be to soak it in penetrating oil like WD-40 or 3-in-1 overnight or even for a few days, then rub it with a cork or a sponge. then sharpen on an arkansas stone and steel it to finish.

                              1. re: oryza

                                You may have a Sabatier carbon knife and not a stainless steel if it has that much rust. You might need to sand it off. I would not use power tools, just sand paper. You can get it many grits sizes. Some even use sandpaper to sharpen

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  It does looks like a carbon steel knife, not stainless because it's got that curious grey-blue cast to it and smells different than my stainless when wet. I will try sandpapering it when I get home from work... Thanks so much!

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      Most people use wet-dry sandpaper. For knives that aren't too badly rusted or for something to try after you've got it cleaned up, Flitz metal polish is great for taking off rust without scratching. It's more aggressive that Bar Keepers Friend, which is also very good, but gentle enough to not mess up the surface.

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        Yep. Up above. But I called it by it's chemical name of Phosphoric acid. Maybe my references to a jingleberried buddha deflected attention from it's perfect application to the rust removal question at hand.

                                        One small bottle will last a lifetime, unless you are restoring a cast iron fence.

                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                          I guess "naval jelly" is a generic name for it, 'cause a lot of companies seem to make it and it's widely available.

                                  1. re: oryza

                                    If you have one around get it sharpened by a pro. Ask some local chefs who they use. They will also clean it up. No muss, no fuss, and a nice sharp knife.

                                    Here in St. Louis I use Bertarellis. There's always someone in chef whites when I go, and they're the only place around that I've found will do single bevel knives.

                                  2. Bar Keepers Friend!!!!! Can't be without it!

                                      1. Aluminum foil. Crumple it up and wipe the rust away. I don't know the science behind it, but it works. If the rust is really stubborn then I throw some Barkeeper's Friend into the mix. Hasn't failed me yet.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: spiffy_dude

                                          spiffy dude, reading your prescription, i just got that chill up my spine -- like when i hear fingernails on a chalkboard, or worse, when i have bitten down inadvertently on a piece of aluminum foil. gaaaaah-eeek!

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Yeah, I'm worried the next tip's gonna be to pass the rusted knife surface back and forth against the front of your teeth.


                                            1. re: Jim Leff

                                              jim and spiffy, i have no doubt spiffy's technique would work. i just don't know if i'd have the nerve to do it (anticipation of weird screeching vibes factor).

                                              1. re: Jim Leff

                                                I use automotive rubbing compound the red turtlewax stuff, i'm not sure what the grit is but I use it to strop after a 10k stone then the 60k stuff, but it gets the rust off and polishes to

                                            2. re: spiffy_dude

                                              They recommend this for polishing rusted chrome, as well... I used aluminum and vinegar to polish a candlestick once; it didn't sound awful, but smelled horrible. Then again, I'm really sensitive to the smell of metals (it does the same thing to me as screechy sounds) and the smell of vinegar on aluminum foil on stainless surface was too much

                                            3. You shouldn't need anything more violent than a pink Scotchbrite pad, probably less. How did you manage to get rust on it? I used a stainless Sabatier for years because I was sharing a kitchen (and my knife) with a very mixed group of roomates, and none of them ever managed to convince it to rust. They don't get near my carbon steel knives.