Elmax custom rusting and pitting

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Cereal_killer, Dec 24, 2019.

  1. Cereal_killer


    Apr 4, 2013
    Hello BF and merry Christmas!

    I have a custom knife from a maker here (not yet willing to name incase its me in the wrong) I purchased in May of 2017. It was his design that he made and sold but in a different steel, I inquired about purchasing the same knife but in Elmax and micarta handle colors of my choice and he said that was no problem (with a premium markup of course). I received the knife in a timely manor, actually about 4 weeks sooner then his time frame which at the time I was ecstatic about however now with all the issues that fact seems to instill more doubt... How did he source the new type of steel in less time then steel he already had would of taken him to make?

    So from the get go I noticed it would get light surface rust pretty much every time I used it. I inquired with the maker about that and he told me that 1, Elmax isn't super high on the rust resistance scale and 2, it's likely not the blade rusting but contamination of other metals from the grinding process which are rusting.

    That answer satisfied me, even though I have several other Elmax blades which don't rust like this his answers, especially the second point made sense to me. I want to mention specifically I have 2 knives from Gollik knives in Elmax both of which have raw unground flats and have absolutely zero rust issues with either of them without oiling or any special treatment so this knife in question is especially concerning but again I was satisfied by the "contamination from grinding" answer.

    I decided at that point just to treat the knife as if it were non stainless and keep it oiled and up till now I didn't think much of it, actually tried to put it out of my mind as the steel did perform well.

    Fast forward to this month, I'm butchering up some deer and got the knife in question out to use and after finishing up I scrubbed it and then soaked it overnight (maybe 8 hours) in light bleach water along with another elmax knife from a different maker, and two other custom in 440c and 80crV2. So morning gets here and first thing I do is go get the knives out of the container I soaked them in and rinse them off and immediately I notice some of the worst pitting I've ever seen! I have old carbon steel knives 60 years old that don't have this deep of pitting that this blade has developed in 8 hours of bleach water immersion!

    I'm just looking for opinions before I contact the maker again. Is it possible for Elmax to rust/pit like this in such a short time? Is the evidence conclusive enough to say this is infact not Elmax? Is "surface contamination" actually the cause of the damage pictured? Should I chalk it up or ask for something? Should I call the maker out (a BFC paying knife maker) in the gbu and/or this thread?

    I'm unable to take the quality of pictures many of you can but I feel these two shots accurately represent the pitting, each spot is deeper than the detent on a folder, the entire tip of a ball point pin easily falls into them, drops of water fall into them. I can get a caliper measurement of 0.057" depth on the largest one however the plunge depth gauge on my caliper has a square end larger than the diameter of the pits so I feel like it's not able to measure depth accurately.

  2. lex2006

    lex2006 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 20, 2014
    I can offer that stainless does not like bleach ( chlorine) unfortunately usually the first thing used to clean or disinfect stuff, and also
    the grit or finish of the material or blade. Example is for swimming pool handrail the chlorine will cause pitting even on 316 stainless
    unless it is polished to a almost mirror finish . I have used 304 high polish without pitting and 316 #4 finish has pitted.
    Anyways your blade looks to be quite fine finish in the photos so it is hard to say, I am just offering some general info.
    Hope this helps you out.
    chiral.grolim and Cereal_killer like this.
  3. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    considering elmax has 18% chrome, that really is hard to believe...

    the high carbon amount means there is less chrome available for rust resistance than other 18% chrome steels, but still that pitting seems a bit extreme
    @Larrin will hopefully chime in, but I expect the consensus will be elmax wouldn't do that, even accounting for wide variance in heat treats
    Cereal_killer likes this.
  4. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    I would avoid soaking in bleach water with another knife in carbon steel. Let alone soaking any high end knife in bleach water.
    You would have to rule out surface contamination from the carbon steel in the bleach water.

    Now as a maker, I've had some instances of stainless steels rusting due to metal particles left from other carbon steels left on a wet stainless knife in my shop.

    There could be many reasons for why it pitted like that up to even being the HT or being a mix up on the steel from the maker or even the steel mill or distributor but remember, you have to think critically and rule out the easy stuff first.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
    Cereal_killer likes this.
  5. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    I know bleach remains the "go to" for a lot of disinfecting purposes but should it? It promotes rust and is bad for you.

    I use ethanol for most things. Cheap vodka is an excellent household cleaner and has some disinfectant qualities. For more serious disinfecting, higher proof is better. At 70% or more, ethanol can be both a safe and highly effective disinfectant. Unfortunately, it's also heavily regulated and artificially expensive.

    Isopropyl alcohol is very cheap and works as both a disinfectant and degreaser. The fumes aren't healthy but they disperse quickly and aren't as bad as some other solvents. Brief contact is probably fine but avoid soaking your scale materials. I've sometimes used a combination of aqueous alcohol and castille soap with a tooth brush for deep cleaning. You can use a bottle with a small hole for flushing away the soap. Alcohol dries very quickly and tends to carry the water away with it.
    Lance Leon and Cereal_killer like this.
  6. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    Cereal-killer: "So from the get go I noticed it would get light surface rust pretty much every time I used it."

    Soaking in bleach is not something I'd ever do with my knife, but your pre-bleach experience with a blade that rusted so easily has me suspicious. I use Elmax a lot. It has never rusted on me, and I live in a rainforest just upstream from the ocean. I'm skeptical that you got actual Elmax. Even my non-stainless 3V does't rust that easily.

    You might try putting a drop of water (rainwater would be good because it is slightly acidic) on this Elmax blade and a drop on another of your Elmax blades, let it set for a while, and see if you notice a clear difference in rust resistance.
  7. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    So-called stainless steels ain't really.
    sodak and Cereal_killer like this.
  8. Mannlicher


    Nov 19, 2008
    “Not willing to name yet”? So why show the maker’s mark?
    chiral.grolim and Mr. Tettnanger like this.
  9. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    Show us, or tell us how those other elmax / 440c and 80crv2 blades looked after 8 hours in light bleach water?
    chiral.grolim and Cereal_killer like this.
  10. wackafew

    wackafew Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Note to self..... Don't use Bleach water. I've butchered a lot of deer and wild game. I wash my knives off by hand in hot water and and some dish soap. Trying not to get the handles too wet. Rinse in hot water dry them off and oil them. Never had a problem with rust or pitting. Also I know of no one getting sick using my knives for food prep.
  11. Cereal_killer


    Apr 4, 2013
    Totally uneffected, even the 80crv2 one.
    This was a 2qt container with at most a couple drops of kitchen bleach, not even a cap full. You're right, probably unnecessary, but one of my good hunting buddies is a chef and he's spent years instilling proper food handling safety into all of us. It's how I've always done it, this is just the first time I've used this knife for processing.
    chiral.grolim likes this.
  12. jpm2


    Nov 19, 2014
    Nothing wrong with the 200:1 water:bleach solution. I've never had it do any significant damage, although overnight is overkill.
    There is however, something wrong with that blade. Possible inclusions?
    chiral.grolim and Cereal_killer like this.
  13. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I would not use a bleach soak on any knife I own. Soap and hot water are fine for many, though not all. If you are using the bleach solution I would scrub and rinse with clean water then dry.

    I can't comment on the Elmax.

    Weird that the pits are only in a few spots, not all over!
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2019
    chiral.grolim and Cereal_killer like this.
  14. bigfish

    bigfish Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    You showed the makers mark, so I have informed him about this thread, he has the right to know about this, since you didn’t keep him anonymous.
    lex2006 and Cereal_killer like this.
  15. Cereal_killer


    Apr 4, 2013
    OK great. Jesus some of ya'll are acting like I'm the bad guy... I thought I posed a legit question.
    flatblackcapo likes this.
  16. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    If you read back/search in some of the other threads when Elmax came out it was mentioned that it can pickup debris from grinding as is mentioned in this thread but it was also noted that the maker shouldn't mix belts that were used for other steel because of that. If this was a real one off request for the maker they may not have used all brand new belts for this blade.

    Maybe regrind would help.
    Mecha and Cereal_killer like this.
  17. bigfish

    bigfish Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    You did pose a legit question, no problem there. You only said to keep the maker anonymous, which you clearly didn’t, you showed his makers mark. And in that case I find it decent to inform him, so he can explain the problem and maybe work on a solution.
    McSharpmeisterJ likes this.
  18. McSharpmeisterJ


    Dec 6, 2015
    +1 what Bigfish said. In my opinion that's not cool to say you're going to keep the maker anonymous and then clearly show his marking on the blade. He deserves the chance to make the issue right before being smeared on this forum. Just my 2 cents
  19. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    He did contact the maker. Those corrosion pits were not caused by debris left on the maker's belt sander.

    Before contacting the maker again, the OP just wants to know if his expectations for stainless Elmax are unfounded. They are not.

    We need to be able to talk about knife issues in an honest and sincere way. That's part of the value of this forum.
    chiral.grolim likes this.
  20. McSharpmeisterJ


    Dec 6, 2015
    I understand that. And I sympathize with having to deal with that issue with a custom blade. My point was that if you say you're going to leave somebody anonymous and then you out them, that's not leaving them anonymous. I think it's a very good idea to post the problem and get other people's take on the issue.

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