• The Wait Is Over. From this thread, orders for the 2023 BladeForums Traditional Knife are open & here's your handy order button.
    OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS WITH GOLD OR HIGHER PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS OR have 25+ posts in the Traditional Forum Preorder price is $160 shipped CONUS, price increase on 9/25 11:59PM when ordering opens to anyone on the forums
    User Name

Are Stellite/Talonite Carcinogen?

Oct 11, 1998
Stellite/Talonite includes Cobalt. Since Cobalt is supposed to cause cancer the question now, are blades made out of those alloys safe to use around food? Can parts of the alloy react with the acids in the food, especially the Cobalt?

Are there any guidelines for food safe materials - especially metals - somewhere? On the internet?
I believe that carcinogenic cobalt would be the radioactive isotopic form and unless the knifemaker is trying to build a light saber would probably not be used in a knife blade. Then again, what do I know. I'm not a doctor and I don't even play one T.V.


who dares, wins

We've been through this territory before. On the carbideprocessors.com web page you can find the manufacturers safety data sheet which talks about these issues. The only risk comes with grinding and as most knowledgeable folks use a respirator that takes care of that. For users, the Talonite does not chip, flake or otherwise leave "dust" on things you cut. So using Talonite to cut/slice food represents no danger at all.

My esteemed colleague, bald1 has it correct. The inhalation of dust is the only method of contact about which you should be concerned. I haven't read the haz mat blurb on Talonite (r)for a while, but it didn't ring any warning bells when I last read it.

I didn't know Co was carcinogenic. Will investigate and advise. Walt

[This message has been edited by Walt Welch (edited 14 May 1999).]
So does this mean I need to wear a respirator if I am sharpening a knife made from talonite? (I assume it needs to be touched up from tome to time)
My understanding is that Cobalt is a carcinogen. But sharpening is not an issue. Grinding would be since you are producing dusts that are airborn. The only thing that I'm not sure about is the Cobalt base alloys being carcinogenic. Pure Cobalt is from what information I got from a manufacturer that I was doing business dealings with that used pure Cobalt Isotope in their process. In the solid knife form, talonite/stellite/dendritic cobalt are not hazardous to hold or use, so don't worry about it. Grinding may require care, but am not sure. I'm sure Rob Simonich, Kit or some of the other makers using it may already know this, since they have more to gain or loose on this aspect.

you are 100 percent correct...also all the nickel and chromium in there is not exactly health food.....very good mask....vacuum the dust.....drink carrot juice and eat fish...
I been grinding it for years and treat it with the respect I treat everything in the shop. It's all a killer- carbon fiber, G-10, Micarta, damascus, titanium, and just about everything else we use to make knives. So are cars, guns, and hand grenades <g>. Treat it all with respect.

High Performance Alloys, Inc, a distributor of 6BH, says in their brochure that "Food preparation machinery that cuts, chops, slices, dices and shreds uses Cobalt 6BH for its wear life, and minimal metal loses. The FDA has issued approval for food contact due to its minimal metal loss, and government approval of cobalt containing equipment".

LOL, from the makers themselves.

Kit, if those bars of stellite I'm supposed to send you glow blue in the dark, do you mind working on them. hehe
If they glow too bright, I can borrow you an old pair of sunglasses.

Thanks to all responses. What that tells me is that when you sharpen Stellite/Talonite blades, you should do it under the slow running faucet.
Well if the dust is carcinogenic, sharpening obviously has to be done with care as you do get dust produced which sharpening. I would hope that this is made very clear by all making / selling such knives.

Sharpening Talonite seems to be more a matter of realigning the edge than metal removal....the stuff is HARD. Normally stones or ceramics show that you're removing metal as they evidence by color and grittiness small particles from the blade you are sharpening. Talonite looses much, much less metal when sharpening in my experience compared to conventional blade steels. If your sharpener uses water or oil, I'd think that it would suffice to trap particulate matter. And it may also be true of Spydie ceramics used dry. I flat have found no dust to speak of to be worried about. Remember asbestosis took a lot of exposure over a long time to impact health. The amounts of Talonite removed during sharpening that don't get trapped by the sharpener or lubricant are miniscule, and of that just how much do you suppose the typical ELU is going to inhale? Guys, I think thou doest wory too much. Wear a gauss mask when sharpening if you must. There are far bigger and more significant issues to worry about. For me it's the CHICOMs with all our nuclear technology in their back pockets and the sorry state of our military under Slick Willy. I'd say the odds favor getting killed or acquiring a disease from those situations over any problem associated with Talonite for an end user


I did NOT escape from the institution! They gave me a day pass!

Bob :

There are far bigger and more significant issues to worry about

Yeah, I am far more likely to do more damage to myself with the edge than anything that comes off of it.

As for sharpening, a lot of people like to reprofile the edges to see how the performance varies. This does mean a lot more metal has to be removed.

Bob is right. Unless you are using a grinder, I don't think there is much to worry about, and unless you happen to be the 6 million dollar man or an android who can sharpen a knife at 50000 mph.