Recommendation? Blood and rust on carbon steel

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Nipon621, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. Nipon621


    Sep 2, 2017
    I'm a hobbyist making a knife for a family friend. He specifically asked for a knife to use for field dressing. Its supposed to be functional and not too pretty to use. He did me a big favor last year so I want to get this right.

    I only have experience with carbon steels. For those of you who field dress using a carbon steel knife, how long does it take for the blood to start rusting the blade? Does it need to be cleaned immediately on the spot? If not, how significant is the oxidation - does it start pitting in 30 minutes or does it just form a nice patina? Are there tricks any of you hunters employ to make this less of an issue? My worry is that he's the kind of guy who will go field dress a deer, maybe wipe down the blade with a rag and put it back in his sheath for the next 4 hours till he goes to skin and butcher it.

    I could heat treat stainless with some difficulty (home made oven is set up for 120 VAC). I do not have the equipment to add cerakote or kindred treatments.

    I appreciate the feedback of you folks who have experience with this in advance.

    - Matt
  2. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    The blood will only severely corrode the carbon steel if it is left on there without ANY attention paid to it. After processing an animal (doesn't really matter how big the animal is or how long it takes), a simple wipe down, ensuring that the moisture has been removed from the blade, is all that is required to keep it from corroding. Now in contrast, the patina will start to form on the blade almost immediately after starting to process the game. This is not a problem, tho. Continuous use will prevent the blood from rusting the blade and pitting it, but continued use will allow the patina to form.
    As long as the blood/moisture is wiped DRY when done using the blade, rust/pitting/corrosion is not an issue. The patina will be there, but that's OK. I like a good patina on a carbon steel blade.

    If ANY moisture is left on the blade after use, allowing it to air dry, that will be a problem. Especially if that moisture gets transferred inside the sheath! But a thorough wipe down/drying with a clean rag is really all that is required. The patina is going to happen, so if that's an issue (It's only cosmetic, and actually helps to prevents rust), go with stainless steel. A thin layer of mineral oil or gun oil etc is perfectly AOK, not needed tho. Just keep it dry after use, good to go.
    Alberta Ed and jpm2 like this.
  3. Nipon621


    Sep 2, 2017
    Thank you, I appreciate your advice. I'll go with carbon, tell him to look forward to the nice patina and emphasize drying it completely.

    - Matt
  4. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    I wouldn't worry about it. In my experience there is usually a decent coat of fat(many times it's wax like) on a blade after field dressing and skinning a deer or hog that's a pita to clean if you only have access to cold water.
    jpm2 likes this.
  5. scott.livesey


    Nov 10, 2011
    wipe with paper towel, wipe with baby wipe, wipe with paper towel. basically same as kitchen knife. if not willing to clean immediately after use, get a handful of 3 for $10 knives and throw them away when they look too nasty.

Share This Page