· Carbon - This ingredient is essential to steel’s creation; all steel will have some amount of carbon. It is the most important hardening element, but as it is added it can reduce the toughness of the material. Carbon reduces the amount that the knife will wear over time. So, the amount of carbon in the blade tells you a lot about the quality of the steel. Low carbon means there is (.3% or less), medium has between (.4-.7%), and high is (.8% and above).
· Chromium - Combats corrosion. Stainless steel knives will have chromium as a major ingredient, typically at a minimum of 12%. Chromium will also increase the strength of a knife, but adding chromium in large amounts decreases toughness.
· Cobalt - Strengthens the blade.
· Copper - Combats corrosion.
· Manganese - Hardens the blade. If added in high quantities it can increase brittleness.
· Molybdenum - Maintains the steel's strength at high temperatures.
· Nickel - Adds toughness.
· Nitrogen - This element is sometimes used as a replacement for carbon in steel.
· Phosphorus - Improves strength.
· Silicon - Increases strength. Also, removes oxygen from the metal while it is being formed.
· Sulfur - Increases machinability but decreases toughness.
· Tungsten - Increases wear resistance.
· Vanadium - Increases wear resistance and makes the blade harder.