Can you maintain a carbon steel knife with only materials from the wilderness?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by T.M.A., Jan 9, 2021.

  1. Ebbtide


    Aug 20, 1999
    Use the left side of your nose for the mark side of the blade and the right side of your nose for the pile side of the blade.
    Old Viking Tradition :)
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  2. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Cotton balls soaked with Vaseline make a good fire starter and can also be used to grease your carbon steel blades, plus it's nontoxic. Put some in old 35 mm film containers (if you can still find some) or small plastic bottles with snap lids.
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    USMCPOP Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 6, 2016
    I spent about 3 years in Thailand back 40+ years ago. Folks didn't have a problem with rust on carbon steel knives, and they didn't care for them. They just used them every day. Sure, they discolor and develop a patina. But I have some that have just sat around for 40 some years and they are still fine. But none of them have leather sheaths! Wood or nothing.

    A friend has a family heirloom Colt .45 single action revolver circa early 1920's. Beautifully made piece. But it was stored in a leather holster for years and the cylinder has significant rust pitting on one side now.
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  4. Climb14er


    Dec 16, 2003
    Very true. And... if you use dryer lint in place of cotton balls, the lint works better! In my climbing the high peaks in the winter, or solo other times of the year, the Vaseline soaked lint in 35mm cans in a zip lock is an essential item in my pack.
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  5. Ed Ricketts

    Ed Ricketts Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 7, 1998
    Either is good to have, & doesnt turn rancid like animal fat. Granted, a little stink probably isn't a big deal. Rancid animal fat transferred to your food, though might conceivably cause some gastrointestinal problems.
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  6. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Yep. Sure can. :D
    Smooth rock to sharpen if necessary, your belt or boot top to strop. (I dunno about you, but I ain't nekked and/or bare toed in the wilderness.)
    Wipe and dry the blade on a rag or your pants leg, or bit of hide/fur from the critter you gutted, peeled, and may have portions of on a spit over the fire, or in your cooking pan/pot.
    To prevent rust, wiping off and drying after each use goes a long way. If you must use oil or something, wiping the blade with a piece of the fat obtained from the wild critter you have cooking over the fire works. You can render it to grease, by putting some in a pan or pot you ain't using to cook with at the time. Letting a patina form also protects against rust, by the way.

    If you're worried about the blade not being shiny enough to use as a signaling mirror if it has a patina, some lensatic compasses have a mirror, or you can always super glue a bit of mirror to a piece of equipment you always have on you when afield, not just in your pack, you can always add a woman's pocket makeup mirror or (empty) compact to your pocket ... or a 2 inch x2 inch x 0.125 inch polished stainless steel plate in your wallet.
    One of my classmates in High School machine shop brought his Estwing belt axe/hatchet in, milled a 2x2x0.125 deep square on the side, over the eye, (well away from the cutting edge) and silver soldered a piece of mirror polished stainless steel to the hatchet as an inlay, the next period in welding shop. he didn't affect the temper/heat treat of the
    He always carried that belt axe/hatchet on his belt when he went hunting, fishing, camping, and canoeing, or any combination thereof.
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  7. Londinium Armoury

    Londinium Armoury

    Jun 2, 2020
    If you get stranded in the wilderness fully prepared with some kind of survival kit and a stainless blade then you are breaking some kind of survival laws, you know the rules, if you get lost in the wild you are only allowed 1 carbon steel knife, then you have to create a small village using only that knife, get with the program.
  8. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    yes, I have the perfect one - ontario ct5 machete - 1075 plain carbon steel, combination axe/sword/knife ; )
    I could create a wooden structure just with that, but it's a bit large to be using for food prep
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  9. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    If you get lost while fully prepared it’s not survival, it’s play time.

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  10. killgar


    Sep 24, 2002
    The OP asked about a "big carbon steel blade". The largest carbon steel blade I've carried into the wild was a Marine KABAR.

    On the subject of rust, I'd rather have to deal with a little rust than have to deal with an oily blade. I prefer a dry blade.

    In a "survival/wilderness living" situation, I imagine I'd be using my knife frequently. I wouldn't want to have to deal with crud sticking to my oily blade every time I use it, or put it down, or slide it back into it's sheath. And it's not like you're going to have a supply of paper towels.

    During my younger days of hiking and camping, I used dirt to scour pots/pans/eating utensils after meals, just as people have done for ages. I'm sure the same method would work just fine for a little surface rust on a blade or other carbon steel items.

    I don't know what the microbial/bacterial breeding potential is for aging animal fat, but that's not something I would want to be using on my knife. Particularly if I'm using it for food prep.

    If it's a "survival" situation, I wouldn't count on having a pot big enough to boil a fixed-blade. And depending on the handle material (like leather or wood), I wouldn't want to boil it.

    And if someone's nose produces enough oil to frequently coat an entire fixed-blade of any moderate size, I'd suggest they see a doctor ;).
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  11. Londinium Armoury

    Londinium Armoury

    Jun 2, 2020
    Camping trip.
  12. herisson

    herisson Apple slicing rocking chair dweller Platinum Member

    Mar 11, 2013
    It isn't. It will cut up your stew like nobody's business. It will hack up a whole deer or slice carrots just the same. What's the problem ? Too heavy ? Grow stronger arms. Grow everything stronger. That's how you survive.
  13. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    it weighs a bit over 2 pounds... so yeah, not the most nimble when it comes to food prep

    I'm sure it could do the job, but camp food prep is where a simple mora is best
  14. herisson

    herisson Apple slicing rocking chair dweller Platinum Member

    Mar 11, 2013
    Some like it simple, some like it BIG, some like it Hooah !, some just want to roast some sausages in the forest and some want to go all Desert Warrior on the first brush they encounter... At all these tasks, carbon steel is the best, tried and tested for centuries past. But wait, wait... now there is that famous Rosta Frei steel. Tempered with special herbs and all that stuff. Cutting through the edge of the edge, or so they say.
  15. cbach8tw

    cbach8tw Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    yes, but they hug back...I think it is called a bear hug. And they squeeze a little harder....right out of you. :D
  16. cbach8tw

    cbach8tw Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 9, 2006
    I think that is how Gilligan and crew did it.
  17. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    Speaking of which, does ANYONE know why everyone took clothes and cases of champagne on a 3hr sightseeing trip?
  18. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    Obviously, you have not spent much time around boats.
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  19. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    Nope, I was just in the Navy. But, a change of clothes or shoes is all I take for a boat trip. Records, champagne, and a weeks worth of clothes stays on shore.
  20. Hal


    Feb 26, 1999
    See my earlier post.....
    Just mix ashes from your campfire with the grease. It makes a crude form of soap. Coat the blade with that soap instead of the grease.

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