Nickel allergy

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by AustinS1234, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. AustinS1234


    Jun 8, 2018
    I recently spent a long time grinding the bevels in on two chef knives. This took two day’s and at the end of each day I developed hives all over my body. The type of steel is 440c stainless and from what I can gather it has a high nickel content. So my question is has anyone else experienced this? Is this nickel allergy common amongst knife makers? Also, does anyone know if s30v has any nickel in it. I looked and it seems it does not. Lastly anyone wanna buy them because I cannot work on these anymore of I’m allergic to them.
  2. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    440C does not have an intentional nickel addition. Did you use a respirator?
  3. AustinS1234


    Jun 8, 2018
    Really? I thought it did. Yea I wore a respirator long shirt and pants and latex gloves (which I wear a lot and never get an allergic reaction)
  4. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Then you probably had a reaction to something else.
    Rhinoknives1 and trevitrace like this.
  5. unwisefool

    unwisefool Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    Next time try it naked. Maybe you are allergic to the clothes.
    Mecha, OnceBitten, Makael and 3 others like this.
  6. hangmanshammer


    Apr 18, 2014
    I would take a look at the abrasives you are using
    OnceBitten and tyyreaun like this.
  7. stonproject


    Nov 22, 2013
    Might have been a heat rash. They can look very similar to an allergic reaction.
    Mecha likes this.
  8. AustinS1234


    Jun 8, 2018
    I use ceramics and aluminum oxide. But I have been using them for a while. Could that have something to do with it?
  9. AustinS1234


    Jun 8, 2018
    Unfortunately it was 28 degrees in my garage when I was working lol
    tyyreaun likes this.
  10. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    If it happened in California, nickel probably caused cancer. If it went away don't sweat it.
  11. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    It's easy to poke fun but for people experiencing real allergic reactions, it isn't funny at all. Lots of people are allergic to nickel. It might be the most common metal allergy. It usually presents with prolonged skin exposure and can be promoted by sweat.

    Nickel is used in several common knife steels including 8Cr13Mov, AUS8, and S35VN. However, it is usually used in low concentrations. For instance, the highest concentration among the three steels mentioned should be around half a percent. For comparison, the 18/10 stainless steel used to make flatware and cookware is 10% nickel. That's generally considered to be safe for cooking and eating but I'm not sure about grinding.

    Neither 440C nor S30V have nickel as a listed ingredient. It could be "heat rash" or contact dermatitis. Grinding can produce lots of tiny and potentially sharp particulants which could irritate the skin manually. Take steps to protect yourself in the future.
    A.L. and AustinS1234 like this.
  12. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    Where I used to work, a lot of the women had Nickel allergies which was attributed to them wearing “cheap” earrings in their pierced ears. The posts were Nickel plated. Once the allergies developed, they could not wear costume jewelry anymore.
  13. AustinS1234


    Jun 8, 2018
    So in your opinion it’s the metal dust it’s self not what’s actually in the metal? I have worked a fair amount with 01 and have never experience this type of reaction. While working with the 01 I used the same exact PPE I used for the 440c.
  14. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Sorry, I've never heard of a human being allergic to nickel, or any other metal.

    I'd guess you had a reaction to the sanding/grinding dust, somewhat similar to the reaction of the dust you get from sanding fiberglass or carbon fiber.

    Did you tape the seams? (shirt sleeves to gloves, for example)

    If you were sweating while working, you were hot; Regardless of the ambient temperature.
    I know I've gotten hot and sweaty while splitting firewood when the ambient temperature was as much as 50 or 60 degrees or so below freezing, on the Fahrenheit scale.
    (or if you prefer, "20 to 30 degrees or so below zero")
  15. superpog

    superpog Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 9, 2019
    Just discuss possibility, it can be a mislabeled steel that actually has nickle. If you know you are allergic to nickel, then that possibility increases.
    Chronovore likes this.
  16. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    It's hard to say for sure. There are too many possibilities to narrow it down. Some good ones so far:

    - Mechanical irritation from particulants, either metallic or otherwise
    - Actual allergic reaction to metal or something else
    - Combination of mechanical and chemical irritation

    The last one can be tricky. You might be weakly sensitive or allergic to something and not know it. For instance, one of the materials here or even something as seemingly benign as your fabric softener could be a culprit. Under normal circumstances, you might not get a reaction. Once your skin becomes mildly abraded, that could change. (Note that routine allergy tests involve abrasion to help facilitate reaction.)

    Superpog might have a point as well. Steels aren't always labeled correctly. Most reputable companies can be trusted but this is a chronic problem with some less scrupulous overseas manufacturers. It can be a matter of deceitful marketing practices or just a quick supply change that never gets noted.
  17. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
  18. miso2

    miso2 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 19, 2014
    Are you sure that you have allergy to nickel?
    Do you react to a 5c coin, zipper, or watch band, which contain nickel?
  19. Chronovore

    Chronovore Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 29, 2019
  20. Larrin

    Larrin Gold Member Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    Nickel is not added to those steels you listed (apart from 18/10). Some steel specs list a nickel maximum or range because they use recycled steel to make knife steels. I am not aware of any that don't have at least 0.1% nickel. Which is why I said 440C does not have an intentional nickel addition.

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