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Food-grade mineral oil: keeping your blades looking their best

By:David Olkovetsky

Ensuring that your knives last forever is all about building good habits. There’s nothing complicated or fancy about it, just some basic principles that will keep your blades in superb working condition. Our first two tips are designed to help you keep your knives looking great.

In our prior edition, we learned how to properly wash and dry our knives. For a refresher, click the link below. 

The Nuances of Washing and Drying Your Knives Correctly

    In this edition, we’re going over food-grade mineral oil, and why applying it to your blades will prevent patina.

    Apply food-grade mineral oil to your blade and handle.

    Food-grade mineral oil plays a major role in great knife care, yet it’s one of the most overlooked maintenance steps. We recommend applying a few drops of food-grade mineral oil to a towel, ideally one designated specifically for this task, and rubbing it into the blade and handle, taking care not to cut yourself on the edge.

    The mineral oil will create a physical barrier between the steel and everything else. If your knife was properly cleaned and dried, this guarantees your blade will look its best for generations to come. Food-grade mineral oil prevents patination and corrosion. 

    One of the reasons we like storing our knives in leather sheaths, is that over time, the inside of the sheath will build up a modest layer of mineral oil, helping keep your knives lubricated and protected from the elements. Food-grade mineral oil is also particularly useful for handle materials such as Richlite®, wood, and micarta, so don’t forget to apply a drop of it to your knife handle. The oil impregnates the fibers of the material that make up the handle and fills in the intercellular gaps so they can’t fill up with water and bacteria. This reduces shrinkage and expansion due to moisture/humidity changes. Some additional tips:

    1. Don't use cooking oils: It’s important to note that you should not use other oils, like olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, etc., because they will quickly oxidize and go rancid. 
    2. Have a designated oil towel: We recommend having one dish towel set aside for mineral oil. You’ll use this same towel for your knives, your butcher blocks, anything in your kitchen that is steel or wooden. 
    3. Food-grade or food safe: Use mineral oils labeled “food-safe” or “food-grade”. 

    What is food-grade mineral oil and where can I get it?

    Food-grade mineral oils are highly refined mineral oils that are tasteless, hydrophobic, and chemically stable. Importantly, they do not support bacterial growth and are inert. In other words, they won’t change the taste of your food, they repel water, they won’t react to acids or bases, and they create a protective barrier that protects the steel from patina. This essentially means that they’re a perfect belt and suspender protection tool for knife blades and handles. 

    You can find inexpensive food-grade mineral oil at Target, hardware stores, Amazon, and sometimes your local pharmacy, and it should cost under $10. You can find food-grade mineral oils here.

    Go ahead and pick up some food-grade mineral oil to guarantee your knives keep looking their best. And, if you’re ready for an upgrade, join us, as we improve the quality of knives across America.

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