Despite their durability and strength, Damascus steel knives are not exactly rustproof. Since they contain carbon and chromium, they can be prone to rust if not properly cared for and maintained.
Luckily, you can remove rust from Damascus steel knife by applying commercially available options like metal paste polishing, multipurpose oil, and WD-40, or natural solutions, such as baking soda paste and diluted vinegar or lemon juice.
The best way to remove rust from Damascus steel knives depends on several factors like how bad the rust is and what you use the knife for. Learn more about your options as you read on.
How to Remove Rust From Damascus Steel Knife:
There are several ways to clear the rust from your Damascus steel knife, and they don’t take a day to do the job. Which method you choose will depend on available materials, how bad the rust is, and how much work you’d like to put in.
Nonetheless, the following rust-removal solution and oils can restore your Damascus steel knife in no time.
1-Paste Polish for Metals
Using a paste polish doesn’t just make your Damascus steel knife shine and look impeccable. But it also helps remove rust as it deoxidizes and cleans the steel.
Even without the rust, you can polish your knife to prevent moisture buildup and clear water marks, lime deposits, and stains. For best results, apply the paste polish on the blade and rub it using a non-abrasive microfiber polishing cloth.
If your knife only has rust spots, you can even use a cotton swab. You can go for commercial paste available in stores like Flitz polish.
A multipurpose oil is another household staple that works for Damascus steel rust removal. The 3-in-One is a popular product, often used to lubricate parts, remove grime, and break down rust for all sorts of tools and equipment.
If you have this at your disposal, you can apply ample multipurpose oil on the rusty blade. Then, repeatedly rub it all over the blade back and forth using a microfiber cloth.
Use abrasives (steel wool, sandpaper, aluminum foil, etc.) only when necessary. Using multipurpose oil is ideal for faded or light rust. On top of that, it also protects the knife afterward from potential corrosion as it wards off moisture buildup on the blade.
3-WD-40 Rust Remover
Many knife collectors use the widely popular WD-40 rust remover on their Damascus steel knives. It effectively scrapes off rust without causing any damage to the blade, which helps preserve the knife’s prominent design.
When rust covers almost the entire blade surface, you can apply WD-40 and rub the knife with wet sand or fine steel wool. However, this is not generally recommended for any decorative Damascus steel knife with an intricate design, as it could cause damage.
But if you’re using your knife logistically and not aesthetically, consider sanding it to completely remove stubborn rust.
4-Baking Soda Paste
For years, baking soda has been considered an all-around solution to stains, odor, and other kitchen problems. Of course, rust removal is no exception to its powers. And when it comes to a Damascus steel knife, you can expect full results, especially if done right.
To clear out the rust in your knife, create a baking soda paste by combining ¼ cup of the powder with a quart of water. Mix until you achieve that sticky consistency. Rub the baking soda paste on the blade, covering all rust spots. Leave it for an hour and clean it off with a cloth.
Baking soda forms an alkaline reaction with the rust, causing degradation. However, this solution fits the removal of minimal or light rusting. If your knife is rusty all over, you may want to try a metal paste polish or WD-40.
5-Vinegar/Lemon Juice Solution
The acidity from vinegar or lemon solution can effectively remove rust from Damascus knife if done correctly. Otherwise, it can cause further damage to your knife.
To do this, dilute the vinegar or lemon juice in water. Soak the rusty knife for a few minutes until the rust starts to loosen. Make sure not to leave your Damascus steel knife for over 24 hours, as the acidity can degrade both the rust and the metal.
When using vinegar, go for apple cider vinegar rather than white vinegar. It has less acid concentration that might penetrate beyond the rust and cause damage to the steel.
Reasons Why Your Damascus Steel Knife Is Rusting
Moisture and oxygen are the main culprits of rusting in any metal, including the Damascus steel knife. The formation of rust comes from the chemical reaction of water and oxygen that creates iron oxide. So, if your Damascus steel knife is rusting, it could be due to any of the following.
It is kept in a humid environment.
You may have stored your knife in a cabinet or drawer that traps moisture. This accounts for rusting in Damascus steel knives hidden for a long time.
It has not been thoroughly cleaned and dried.
When using your Damascus steel knife in the kitchen, naturally, it’s exposed to water all the time. For example, it could sustain moisture when cutting meat or washing the tool. So, if you don’t wash it with soapy water and dry it properly, rusting is inevitable.
It has been soaked for too long.
It’s unlikely that you’ll leave your knife soaking or barely exposed to water for a long time, but it’s possible. You may have accidentally left it in the rain, failed to dry it up, and kept it in storage. Then, found out that it sustained rust. To avoid this, be mindful of where you palace your knife and always cover it when used outside your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Damascus steel rust easily?
Carbon Damascus steel knives can sustain rust but not as easily as other types of knives or metal material. Its carbon content reacts with water and undergoes oxidation, causing the formation of rust. Still, it has superb resistance to corrosion with proper maintenance. The rule of thumb is never to let it sit on water for a long time.
Does Damascus steel rust in salt water?
A Damascus steel knife that gets prolonged or frequent exposure to salt water can sustain rust. But this only happens with a lack of adequate care, such as deliberately soaking your Damascus steel in salt water or leaving it in such an environment. Saline water does not generally cause corrosion, the oxidation caused by the presence of hydrogen and oxygen speeds up.
How often should I oil my Damascus steel knife?
For utmost rusting protection, put oil on your Damascus steel knife after washing and drying it up. This is recommended for knives that are regularly used, especially those used in kitchens. Use a food-grade or mineral-grade oil. On the other hand, if your Damascus steel knife is purely decorative, take time to oil it at least once a year.
Cleaning rust from Damascus steel knives can be as simple as rubbing a homemade solution to the blade or using slight abrasion with a chemical remover. This will ultimately depend on the degree of rusting your knife sustained.
While Damascus steel knives used for their functionality can afford to sustain slight damage from rust removal, if you’re using it decoratively, you must think twice about the method you choose. As a remedy, just ensure that you’re taking care of your blade by regularly keeping it clean and dry.