Many people own a large amount of kitchen knives. However, when they do not use kitchen knives they may forget to throw away them, resulting in the cluttering of space in kitchen.
Then, how to dispose of old kitchen knives?
What is Knife/Knives?
A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse knifr, “knife, dirk” is a tool or weapon with a cutting edge or blade, often attached to a handle or hilt.
One of the earliest tools used by humanity, knives appeared at least 2.5 million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools.
Originally made of wood, bone, and stone (such as flint and obsidian), over the centuries, in step with improvements in both metallurgy and manufacturing, knife blades have been made from copper, bronze, iron, steel, ceramic, and titanium. Most modern knives have either fixed or folding blades; blade patterns and styles vary by maker and country of origin.
Knives can serve various purposes.
Hunters use a hunting knife, soldiers use the combat knife, scouts, campers, and hikers carry a pocket knife; there are kitchen knives for preparing foods (the chef’s knife, the paring knife, bread knife, cleaver), table knives (butter knives and steak knives), weapons (daggers or switchblades), knives for throwing or juggling, and knives for religious ceremony or display (the kirpan).
First check if your knives can be salvaged
Before you come to the conclusion that your knives need to be thrown out, carefully check what condition they are in. Is the blade blunt, slightly bent, is there a bit of rust?
Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to rectify these issues with a knife sharpener, whetstone or with the right cleaning materials.
If all else fails, you have the option of visiting an expert who may be able to restore your knives for a fee.
How to Dispose of Kitchen Knives
Keep in mind that knives—even dull ones—are sharp objects that can harm sanitation workers, so it’s not enough to simply toss them. Before we tell you how to safely throw your knife away, consider an alternative
Recycle old knives
Many metro areas have a scrap metal recycler, so find out if there’s one near you. You’ll need to know the type of metal used for your knife (ceramic, stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, titanium, etc.). If you don’t, start by doing a magnet test: Hold a magnet up to the blade. If it’s attracted, the blade is made from a ferrous material; if not, it’s non-ferrous. Your scrap metal recycler will be able to help you from there.
Donate your knives
Maybe your knife isn’t damaged and you’re just in the market for a new one. Or, perhaps you’re not willing to fix the chip, but someone who has the means may be able to repair it. The point is, even if it’s unusable by your standards, someone else may be glad to have your old knife. Consider donating it to a friend setting up his or her first kitchen, or look to charitable organizations like the local soup kitchen, Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
Throwing them away
If you are not keen on messing around trying to sell, recycle or donate your kitchen knives, then it’s best to just throw them out.
But there’s a right and wrong way to throw them out. Here are a few quick tips:
- Newspaper wrap: the cheapest and most convenient option is to get 6-7 sheets of newspaper and carefully wrap it around the knife blade ensuring the entire blade is properly covered while keeping the handle exposed. Tape the newspaper so the whole thing is securely wrapped.
- Bubble wrap: for an extra layer of protection (and if you have any lying around) you can substitute newspaper with bubble wrap.
- Cardboard wrap: probably the safest option when it comes to covering the blade, grab a piece of cardboard bigger and longer than the knife, fold it in half and place the knife inside with the blade against the fold. Tape it together so everything is secure and place it in a box if one is available.
- Clothes wrap: this is the last resort if none of the options above are available. Clothes can unfold and if someone tries to unwrap it to have a look at the clothes not knowing there is a knife inside, they can get seriously hurt. Ensure your knives are securely wrapped with sufficient clothing (keeping the handle exposed), secure with tape and if you attach a note saying there is a knife inside that should avoid any confusion or harm.
Restoring Old Knives
There are five basic steps to restoring an old knife:
- Find a Knife worth Restoring
- Remove Rust
- Refinish the Blade
- Refinish the Handle
I like old knives because the quality is there, and they’re cheap. They were made before the time when plastic and stainless steel was par, so instead of mediocrity, you’ll find high carbon steel and wooden handles. Higher end knives will have brass rivets, and are just beautiful. If you’re the type to put a knife away wet, or leave it in the kitchen sink, then older knives aren’t for you. The blade will rust, the handles will split from being wet, and you’ll ruin a 50 year old knife in a month.
But if you’re looking for a quick project, restoring an old knife is really worthwhile. Rust can be removed, handles can be restored or replaced, and as long as there is life left in the blade, you can have a razor sharp knife that will make chopping and cooking at least 3 times as fun.
Finding Quality Knives
The most important step is to find a good knife. Search local flea markets first, then try second hand stores or craigslist, and then antique shops or ebay.
What to look for:
I basically look for rusty blades and wooden handles. If the knife has a decent weight to it and feels balanced when you pick it up, that’s good.
If the handle is a dark wood (walnut, rosewood, ebony, etc.), this usually indicates that it wasn’t the cheapest knife when it was new.
Anything old (50+ years) and with a stamped maker’s mark should be decent. If someone hasn’t thrown it away in 50 years, there’s probably a good reason.
What to avoid:
I avoid plastic handles and stainless steel, but that’s my preference. Anything that’s badly bent (looking down the edge) or cracked, pass it up. Many old knives will have been sharpened so much that there’s not much life left in the blade. You can still get them sharp, but they turn into thin fillet knives, not the chef’s knife they were intended to be. If the knife is worn down, but it’s from a well known manufacturer (like the Henckel knife in the photos), it might be worth getting anyway.
Don’t be too worried if the blade isn’t sharp or if the edge has small nicks. Cracks in wood handles can be repaired, and even re-handling a knife isn’t that difficult if you have basic tools.
Removing Rust and Refinishing the Blade
The first thing I do is get rid of any rust on the blade. I used to spend a long time sanding the rust away, but now I just make a solution of citric acid and water to dissolve the rust. The advantage here is that it’s not as abrasive as sanding, which helps preserve the maker’s mark stamped in the blade, and it will even remove rust in hard to reach places.
Pour a few tablespoons of citric acid powder in a tall container, fill it with warm water, and submerse the blade of the knife. If the handles are wood, avoid getting them wet! As they absorb water, they may swell and crack.
Wait a few hours and let the rust dissolve. Scrub the knife down with a coarse sponge or fine steel wool, and continue soaking until the rust is gone.
Then sand the blade by hand, starting around 320 and working up until you’re happy with it. A full polish is possible, it’s just a lot of work. Be careful not to cut yourself if the blade is sharp!
Refinishing Wood Handles
Tape over the edge of the blade, especially if it’s sharp. You will cut yourself if you don’t. When that happens, just don’t get blood on the handle… it stains.
Clean and Sand Handles:
When I began restoring handles, I would sand with 220 grit sandpaper or lower, and take them up to a 600 – 1000 wet sand. Now I usually just start with #0000 steel wool. This will remove any grime, but it won’t take away as much of the patina that the wood has inherited over the years. It takes a long time, especially in tight places, but I like the results and the finish, and there’s no worry about removing too much wood and changing the original shape of the handle.
Protect with Oil:
After the handles are sanded (along with the metal rivets and tang), it’s ready for oil. I usually just use a few coats of mineral oil. Boiled linseed oil is another good finish that will actually cure, so it doesn’t stay as ‘wet’ as other oils. I like to keep it food-safe, but it’s your knife, so go with a finish that you like.
I always leave the sharpening step for last, because even with tape on the edge, it’s still possible to cut or stab yourself when refinishing the handles.
Reshape the Edge
If the edge of the blade isn’t straight, if it’s chipped or the tip is broken, it will take a bit of shaping before you can begin sharpening it.
For damaged blades, it’s usually necessary to start with very very coarse stones to get the edge profile back into shape. Older knives are often worn down and concave in the center. To fix this, hold the blade normally and try to cut through the sharpening stone like you were slicing bread. This will remove metal from the high spots, but it will completely dull the edge. Don’t do this unless it’s necessary, it will remove nicks quickly, but it’s hard on the stones.
It helps to mark the edge with a marker so you know where you need to remove material.
Bevel both edges of the blade by holding the knife almost flat on the stone. Focus on one side of the blade until you can feel a burr on the edge, then flip it over and concentrate on the other side.
Continue sharpening on the coarse stones until it feels sharp all the way down the edge. If one part needs more work (the curve of the tip), focus on sharpening that area.
As you work through to finer stones, the knife should be getting quite sharp. If it’s not, go back a grit and fix it.
Caring for Kitchen Knives
A carbon steel knife needs special care, otherwise it will discolor and rust very easily.
After using the knife, wipe it off!
Anything acidic is going to etch and darken the blade. This will happen in a very short time, so get in the habit of cleaning the knife after every use.
Don’t put it away wet, ever.
Store knives upside down in a knife block, so the cutting edge isn’t touching anything.