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Many of us believe that Rostfrei is a European brand or a type of knife. Rostfrei is the word used by the Germans to refer to a knife made using stainless steel.
This German word means ‘rust-free’ when translated to English. However, it also refers to ‘stainless steel’ when engraved on the blade and other cutlery items. When stamped with ‘Rostfrei,’ the knife or cutlery typically comes from Germany or a German-speaking nation such as Switzerland.
Thus, a Rostfrei stamped knife features a stainless-steel blade and is made in countries where German is spoken. Most of these knives come from the German metropolis of Solingen, known for its steel production, while a few vintage ones originated in 1912.
Although producing stainless steel was invented before the 20th century, Germany recognized its benefits only in 1912. This was the time when Krupp exclusively started making stainless steel.
If a knife or any other cutlery item is Rostfrei, it refers to the ‘Rostfrei’ stamp, which is usually on the blade, indicating stainless steel. The handle is the other part of the knife that can be made of wood or sterling silver. Thus, you are likely to come across terms such as Rostfrei silverware, indicating that the item is made using silver and stainless steel.
The stamp is assumed by many to be the name of a manufacturer. However, it is not. Typically, there would be another mark reflecting the city of origin and the manufacturer’s name,
Although most stainless-steel blades marked ‘Rostfrei’ are produced in Solingen, some come from other manufacturers. Many companies in China and Taiwan put this mark on their knives to give the impression that they were made in Germany or indicate that they are of reliable quality.
Introduction to Rostfrei Steel
Many of us believe that a Rostfrei knife is made using Inox steel. The word ‘Inox’ is a French term that translates to stainless steel. Indeed, it is a popular term to refer to this common blade material in several European nations where French is spoken.
Interestingly, the Inox word came from the esteemed knife company, Victorinox. It adopted it to refer to its stainless-steel blades. As a result, many started believing that Inox is a specific type of stainless steel.
However, this is not true. Indeed, the word is as general as Rostfrei. Even today, Victorinox sells its multipurpose knives with blades stamped with Rostfrei. This is because they make blades in a nation where German is spoken.
Another popular notion is that this mark of Rostfrei is usually seen on 420 A, B, or C, 420 modified, or 440 A and B stainless steel variations.
The 420 stainless steel series features low carbon and sufficient Chromium. Thus, knives made using one such steel piece are highly resistant to stain or rust. However, they are also soft; hence they are not ideal for heavy, rough, or daily use.
Nevertheless, these knives are ideal for use in or around salt water. They can even be used for decorative purposes.
On the flip side, this kind of steel dulls quickly. Further, you can easily bend, blunt, or break due to its soft nature. It is, at times, seen in the pocket knives’ liners.
On the other hand, 440A stainless steel, with more carbon, gives you knives for daily use. These tools are resistant to rust, sharpen easily, and retain a significant edge. In addition, the 440B variation is tougher than 440A and can endure more abuse. However, it is prone to rust.
Thus, not all stainless steels are rust-free. Furthermore, Rostfrei does not always mean rust-free. Whether the steel will rust or not depends on its quality and the conditions in which it has been used or stored.
It is rare to see blades made using 440B steel. Instead, knife blades are made using AUS8 steel, a Japanese equivalent.
Most blades engraved with ‘Rostfrei’ are not of high quality, especially if they are made 420 A or B, although not all of them are so.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.