Blackening a knife is the most effective way to protect a knife from rusting. This method has been in use for years to reduce corrosion and protect your knife from getting scratched.
High-carbon knives are extremely prone to corrosion and get easily rusted by reacting with water and oxygen. Therefore, adding a thick layer can protect the knife.
But do you know How to blacken a knife blade?
Hold on! I base this guide upon my experience and learnings from the various problems that I have faced with my knife.
After trying and testing many techniques, I have brought up the most effective ways of blackening stainless steel and carbon steel knives.
Don’t worry you don’t need to go to a knife expert to fix it. Trust me, most of the coating work done with a knife can be done manually without the help of an expert.
Even if you don’t have any major experience, you can still do this work with and black steel knife because the process is pretty simple.
You just need to get the right accessories.
I am sure you might be familiar with or experienced rusting in knives, so I have listed the 4 best DIY Tips on how to blacken steel at home, and this really works.
Hence, let us first know some basics of what is black oxide coating (metal blackening solution).
What is Black Oxide Coating?
Well, Black oxide coating is mostly a chemical conversion coating that is applied on the surface of metals like stainless, high carbon steel, zinc, and other metals to shield the metal from getting rust and also protect from other ways.
When we dive more into this process, we also found it doesn’t actually deposit a coating on the surface.
But like zinc electroplating, it produces a chemical reaction on the surface of the blade, and when the oxidizing salt present in the black oxide reacts with the blade it forms a black oxide coating.
Usually, oxidation salts contain substances like activators, penetrates, catalysts, and other additives. All this takes part in a single chemical reaction in coloring the steel.
Black oxides are a very important ingredient and are widely used in industries for various purposes. These are a few usages of black oxides:
- Corrosion Resistance
- Anti- Galling
- Decorative Finishing
- Pre-treatment before paint
- Lowers Conductivity
- Protects Embrittlement
- Dimensional Stability
Most stainless knives do not suffer corrosion. But mostly High carbon steel gets affected and leads to embrittlement and gradually breaks down into pieces.
Once the entire process is complete, then you have to dip the blade in the oil to make your coating last on your blade for years.
How To Blacken A Knife Blade (Stainless & High Carbon)
Do you know how to blacken stainless steel at home? No! Stick till the end of this post so that find out the right solution and this won’t waste your time.
Steel and irons are something that suffers from corrosion if you don’t take proper care for a longer time.
Hence, it is important to protect your knife if you want to use your knife in the long term.
The process can actually be carried out in several ways by using electricity, but then the cost and effort get high.
Hence, I mentioned all the best methods considering all the factors.
1. Blacken Using Black Oxides
This is one of the best and most effective ways of darkening your knife.
These methods of applying black oxide plating on the knife are quite some time and are mostly used by professionals and in industries to protect steel and other metals.
Gun blue manufacturers actually used the technique as it is a more eco-friendly and safe method.
The best thing is we can complete the entire process at room temperature, and even there is no need for electricity.
Well, black oxides are available in two variants, the first one in black oxide powder and the other in liquid form. For better results, we recommended choosing the liquid form.
The first step is to check whether any rust is present on the surface of the blade or not.
Before we carry out the treatment, remove the rust particles either by wire brushing, scrubbing, or scrubbing in Comet.
Another important thing is to check out where the knife is plated with (Nickel, chromium, cadmium, phosphate, or zinc) as it cannot form a black oxide on these surfaces.
Under room temperature immerse the knife blade in the steel blackening solution(Black Oxide) and leave for around 1 minute to 5 minutes.
Make sure you don’t dip the handle of the knife.
Once the oxide treatment is completed remove the knife. Now the blade is treated with black oxide but the coating is not sealed.
Hence, you have to immediately dip the blade into the penetrating sealant and leave it in the liquid for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Then Remove the blade let the excess oil fall and leave the blade to dry before handling.
The last step is optional if you want a stain, Glossy, or Semiglossy finish on your knife. Apply lacquer and let it dry for 30 minutes.
This will provide a good and appealing look to your knife.
Benefits Of Black Oxide Coating
- This is a cheap method for turning steel black as compared to other methods like electroplating.
- This is one of the most effective processes, and it can last for years.
- An appealing look with a stain, Glossy, or Semi-Gloss look.
- Protects corrosion for years.
- We easily apply the process in large quantities which makes it cheaper and faster.
- Adds a decorative layer.
- Low effect on conductivity.
2. How To Color a Knife Blade
This is one of the simplest ways to achieve a blackened steel finish in your knife.
We can complete the process in just one step but most of them ask how to paint a knife blade. So, follow the steps and be sure you get permanent black spray paint.
The first step is always to clean your knife. You can follow any of the processes I have mentioned above for cleaning your knife blade.
Now make sure you remove all the dirt from the knife and apply the spray to the blade.
Be careful while spraying as this can even color the handles of the knife, so cover the blade handle before you spray.
Once the spraying process is completed let the knife dry until you can hand touch the blade.
3. Blackening steel with vinegar
Blackened steel patina with vinegar is quite a traditional process and I think you don’t have to spend much money on it, as most of the accessories used in the process would be available at your home.
I’m damn sure everyone would have apple-critic vinegar at your house.
- Cotton Balls
- Tongs for holding
- Acetone or Rubbing Alcohol
- Silver Polish
- Apple critic vinegar
Clean the knife thoroughly using Acetone or Rubbing with Alcohol. Make sure to wipe the knife with a piece of paper towel so it doesn’t leave any liquid on the surface.
Take a container and pour the vinegar in good quantity so that the knife blade fully submerges to the top. You might need extra vinegar if the blade is long.
Boil the vinegar with the blade submerged under vinegar take a small portion of cotton dip it in the boiler and let the cotton absorb the vinegar.
Now wipe the cotton on your blade and repeat the process until there appears a black coating on the blade.
The process of turning stainless steel black might take a long time because this is quite a slow process.
Once the process is complete, raise the blade under cold tap water and wipe the knife with a clean kitchen towel.
This process works, but it’s not quite effective and this doesn’t process the knife fully.
After some months or years, you might have to repeat the same steps.
4. How To Blacken A knife With Bee Wax
This is a traditional way of darkening steel that has been in use for years. This process of coloring steel with heat is a risky process.
So make sure you wear protective gloves and glasses while handling the hot blade.
Remember this process only works if you only have a steel handle because a (plastic or a rubber handle) would burn when you process the blade at a high temperature.
- It is always to recommended to clean the knife thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol.
- Isopropyl is recommended because it gets evaporated easily and does not produce fumes.
- Now keep the metal in the oven and heat the blade to about 400 F (204.4 C).
- The process might take a long time if you are using a thicker blade or else it won’t consume much time for thinner blades.
- Mix the pure bee wax with linseed oil to get excellent results. Mix them well in a portion of (2 parts bee wax and 1 part linseed oil).
- Apply the mixture to the blade until the blade is coated with the mixture.
- Take extra precautions while handling the steel as the blade is hot enough.
- Once you apply the wax, not the last step is to put the blade in the oven for half an hour and let the wax burn into the metal.
- After 30 minutes take out the blade and let it cool down.
- Wash the blade with cold tap water. Make sure you don’t wash the blade immediately after removing it from the oven.
5. Hot Vinegar Bath
This method involves using hot vinegar to create a chemical reaction that darkens the steel. Here’s how you can do it:
- White vinegar
- Pot for heating
- Tongs for holding
- Baking soda (optional)
Clean the knife blade thoroughly using isopropyl alcohol to remove any oils or residues.
Fill a pot with white vinegar and heat it on the stove. You want the vinegar to be hot but not boiling.
Once the vinegar is hot, use tongs to carefully submerge the knife blade into the vinegar. Make sure the entire blade is covered.
Leave the blade in the hot vinegar for about 5 to 10 minutes. You may notice the blade changing color during this time.
Remove the knife from the vinegar and rinse it under cold tap water. Use a clean kitchen towel to wipe the blade dry.
Step 6 (Optional):
To enhance the blackening and provide additional protection, you can create a paste using baking soda and water. Apply this paste to the blade, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it off.
This method utilizes the acidic properties of vinegar to create a darkened patina on the steel. It’s a simple and cost-effective DIY solution for blackening a knife blade at home. Remember to handle the hot vinegar with care and conduct this process in a well-ventilated area.
6. Coffee Patina:
For a natural and rustic look, you can achieve a blackened finish on your knife blade using coffee. Here’s a simple method:
- Instant coffee or used coffee grounds
- Cotton balls or cloth
- Vinegar (optional)
Clean the knife blade thoroughly using isopropyl alcohol to remove any oils or residues.
Prepare a strong coffee solution by mixing instant coffee or used coffee grounds with water. The solution should be thick and concentrated.
Submerge the knife blade into the coffee solution, ensuring it’s fully covered. Allow the blade to soak for several hours or overnight, depending on the depth of color you desire.
After soaking, remove the knife blade and rinse it under cold tap water. Use a clean cloth or cotton balls to gently pat the blade dry.
Step 5 (Optional):
For added protection and to enhance the patina, you can wipe the blade with a solution of vinegar and water. This step is entirely optional and can be skipped if you prefer a more natural finish.
This method creates a unique and subtle patina on the knife, giving it a distinct appearance. It’s a simple and cost-effective DIY technique that utilizes the natural staining properties of coffee.
Wrap-Up On How To Blacken A Knife Blade
I know going to an expert for blackening your knife is expensive. Therefore, you can try all the methods that I have listed for blackened stainless steel & carbon steel knives.
The above suggested 4 ways are good enough and the best ways to color your knife at room temperature.
You just need an extra amount of heat in the bee wax method.
Well, my personal recommendation is to process your knife with black oxides as they are the most effective ways of coloring your knife without even adding a thick layer.
Black oxides work pretty well and trust me once you process your knife with oxides you don’t have to have to worry about your knife suffering from corrosion.
Well, if you planning to protect your knife by doing other methods, then you can check out the How to keep a knife from a rusting guide.
Finally, all the information that I have provided on how to blacken steel in this guide is based upon my personal experience and also the deep research that I have done from various top websites.
Let us know if you have any queries in the comment section. We will definitely try to answer.
FAQ: How to Make Steel Black
These are some of the most common questions that people ask and want to know about. Read this section so you can find all your answers.
Q1. Black Oxide vs Bluing What is The Difference?
Ans: Bluing is actually a passivation process that involves an electrochemical conversion reaction that results in the formation of an oxidizing chemical reaction on the surface of the blade. There are many processes through which we can achieve the oxidizing reaction but the most common one is “cold bluing“. This an actually a selenium dioxide-based fusion that colors the steel.
Q2. Can you darken stainless steel?
Ans: Yes, stainless can be darkened easily, and the process is quite similar, and you can follow the above 4 ways and turn stainless steel black.
You can follow all the steps we have listed to get a black steel knife.