How To Sharpen Ceramic Knives: Complete Guide

Man sharping a knife

You’ve got that brand-new set of beautiful ceramic knives -- and then all of a sudden, they’re dull and not so new anymore. Need to learn how to sharpen ceramic knives? We can help.

Sharpening your knives is an essential part of cooking, even if you’re not making professional-quality meals. When your knives are sharp, you can cut and prep foods more quickly, without damaging delicate things like fish or herbs. Foods with a clean-cut look nicer, stay fresh longer, and cook more evenly.

Even better: knowing how to sharpen ceramic knives will help keep you safe in the kitchen. While a sharp knife might seem like it would be more dangerous, it’s actually less risky because you have more control over it. A dull blade can slip unexpectedly, increasing the chances that you’ll cut yourself.

Ready to learn how to sharpen ceramic knives so you can cook better food with fewer accidents?

What Are Ceramic Knives?

Set of knives with a wooden plank and a lemon
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Ceramic is a material that’s shaped, then hardened into its final form with exposure to high temperatures.

You might be familiar with ceramic in the form of plates and coffee mugs. However, a ceramic knife uses a different kind of ceramic.

These knives are usually made with zirconia: you might recognize this material from cubic zirconia, or synthetic diamonds. Zirconia is incredibly hard -- harder than steel, if not quite as hard as real diamonds. That’s why it works so well in knives.

You won’t find a full set of ceramic knives like you would with steel knives. These aren’t all-purpose tools like regular knives are, but they work well for specialty uses.

It’s important to know that ceramic knives still break easily, even though they’re hard. If you try to use your ceramic knife to cut something that’s too hard, it will probably break. You can't apply pressure to the flat of the blade to do things like crush garlic without snapping the blade, either.

These ultra-thin knives also chip easily. Although you can even out chips when you learn how to sharpen ceramic knives, it’s best to replace a seriously chipped blade instead.

Ceramic knives also aren’t cheap. They’re considered a high-end item, so they cost at least as much as a high-end steel knife, if not more.

Reasons to Buy Ceramic Knives

Although there are some drawbacks to using them, there are also lots of reasons to buy and learn how to sharpen ceramic knives. These are our favorite reasons to make the purchase.

Easily slice soft foods

You can’t use a ceramic knife to cut through tough things like frozen foods. But if you want to slice anything from cold butter to fruits to herbs, a ceramic knife is your best bet.

You’ll still need your other knives for general purpose uses. But you can use your ceramic knives when you need clean cuts, such as for making the perfect twist of lemon to garnish your drink.

These knives also work well for making super-thin slices, since they’re so sharp. Learning how to sharpen ceramic knives will help you get those delicate, perfect cuts every time.

Stays sharp longer

Once you learn how to sharpen ceramic knives, you won’t need to put that knowledge to the test very often. These knives are known for maintaining a sharp edge for far longer than metal knives can. This reduces your time spent making your knives sharp and safe to use.

Although a ceramic knife costs more than a regular knife, it’s an investment that will last a long time, so it’s easy to justify the cost.

Knives on a brown knife rack
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Clean and odor-free

Ceramic isn't porous, so there's nowhere for dirt, residue, or odors to collect. Although it might seem surprising, metal knives actually are harder to clean. With a ceramic knife, you can just rinse it under warm water and have it come out almost completely clean. The material doesn’t stain, so it looks good even after lots of use.

Ceramic knives also make it easy to prep multiple foods at once without transferring odors. If you cut something pungent, you can just rinse your knife off before cutting the next thing -- the smell won’t transfer.

No rust

Since ceramic knives aren’t made of metal, they’ll never rust. This also helps extend their lifespan even further.

Ultra light

Ceramic knives are far lighter than steel ones. This makes them very easy to control, although you will notice that you'll need to push more to make a cut since the weight of the knife can’t do it for you.

Caring for Ceramic Knives

In addition to knowing how to sharpen ceramic knives, there are some basic things you should do to care for these tools. Let’s take a look at how to keep your ceramic knife working like new for longer.

Avoid the dishwasher

You might have read that ceramic is dishwasher-safe. However, washing any knife in the dishwasher -- especially a ceramic one -- is a bad idea.

The pressure of the water and the possible jostling inside the dishwasher can easily damage your knives, especially the ceramic ones. They might come out of the dishwasher chipped or broken, so it’s best to wash them by hand. Plus, ceramic’s so easy to keep clean that handwashing is easy.

Take extra care

Dropping your ceramic knives almost guarantees that they’ll chip or break. These knives should be handled delicately, never bumped or dropped. That said, you should also take care not to drop your steel knives: the blade could bend, and you’ll need a professional to fix it.

Also, even though you’ll learn how to sharpen ceramic knives, you should never cut with them on the wrong surface. Avoid cutting on countertops made of materials like marble or granite. Instead, use a soft cutting board every time.

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Store them properly

You’ll want to store your ceramic knives with a protective cover so they can’t get damaged. You can’t place them on your magnetic strip since they’re not metal, but make sure they go somewhere where they won’t get bumped and broken.

Know what to cut

Even fruits and vegetables can have hard seeds and pits inside that will damage your ceramic knife. Only cut things that have nothing hard inside to chip or break the blade.

The Problem with How to Sharpen Ceramic Knives

Ceramic knives last a long time with proper maintenance and don’t need to be sharpened very often. However, learning how to sharpen ceramic knives properly is critical, because they can’t be sharpened as easily as steel knives.

The material is nearly as hard as diamonds so that regular sharpening tools won’t do any good. Since ceramic is so brittle, it’s also hard to sharpen without breaking your nice kitchen tool. If you put too much pressure on the blade while sharpening it, it will break -- and it doesn't take much to put too much pressure on a ceramic knife.

People who have sharpened lots of metal knives often have difficulty learning how to sharpen ceramic knives. Your muscle memory from sharpening steel won’t serve you well: you’re probably used to using pressure and feeling the knife spring back, which is exactly what will break a ceramic knife.

However, anyone can learn how to sharpen ceramic knives with the right techniques that will keep them functioning well for years. Let’s get into how it works.

How to Sharpen Ceramic Knives

Knowing how to sharpen ceramic knives will save you money because you won’t need to pay for professional sharpening. Keeping your knife sharp also reduces the chances that you’ll need to replace it. Start with these tools and techniques.

The tools you’ll need

One of the only things harder than the ceramic of your knife is a diamond. This means you’ll need diamond tools to sharpen your knife.

With that in mind, you have a few different options when it comes to tools. Here are the main ones to choose between.

Sharpening rod

Electric sharpener

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Other Tips for How to Sharpen Ceramic Knives

Once you get the hand of using these basic tools, you’ll find that it’s fairly easy to learn how to sharpen ceramic knives on your own. However, these tips will help you get the best results every time.

Use the right slot

Many electric knife sharpeners have different slots for different levels of sharpening. Since ceramic blades don’t get dull easily, you probably won’t need the most intense level. Instead, use the fine slot for light sharpening. That way, you won’t take off too much of the delicate blade.

Store them properly

In addition to keeping your knives from breaking, proper storage also prevents your ceramic knives from getting dull. Make sure to always put the protective cover on when your knife’s not in use.

Don’t keep your ceramic knife in a drawer, where other things can bump into it and damage it. Give it its own designated place in the kitchen instead, like a knife tray or a high-quality knife block.

Don’t buy a ceramic knife sharpener

If you see a product labeled “ceramic knife sharpener,” you might think it’s designed for ceramic knives. However, these tools actually use ceramic to sharpen regular knives.

Since your blade is already ceramic, these tools won’t make the knife any sharper. Look for tools labeled “diamond knife sharpener” instead.

Are Ceramic Knives Right for You?

Now that you know how to sharpen ceramic knives, you can probably tell whether or not one deserves a place in your kitchen.

You can definitely have a well-stocked kitchen and cook excellent meals without ever buying a ceramic knife. They aren’t essential, but they are a nice luxury for passionate cooks. If you find yourself needing to make delicate cuts in things like fruits, vegetables, poultry, or fish, a ceramic knife will make your life easier.

Knowing how to sharpen ceramic knives will let you keep that investment working well for years to come. Will you splurge for one of these specialty knives or not? Leave a comment and let us know!

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