(This site is reader-supported. When you buy something using retail links on our articles, we may earn a small commission.)
More than 10,000 years ago, trepanation was the most common cure for pretty much everything. This healing technique involves drilling a hole into the skull. Scientists have found ancient skeletons with multiple holes in their skulls, whether they were getting cured for headaches or epilepsy. Back then, people used to rely on obsidian for their tools. These days, obsidian is still common. So, what is an obsidian knife then?
Obsidian is 100% natural. The volcanic glass turns into a rock and becomes quite hard. It is also amorphous and brittle – in other words, it breaks down with extremely sharp edges. Obsidian is also used as a gem or a piece of jewelry. Since it is natural, it is said to have a bunch of metaphysical properties as well, so it is often used in this industry for spiritual purposes.
The volcanic glass was initially discovered by a Roman explorer named Obsidius, hence the name. It was found in Ethiopia, yet further archaeological studies have discovered that obsidian has been used thousands of years before its official discovery – back to the neolithic times. Back then, it was used as a weapon, mostly because of its hardness and sharp edges.
What is an obsidian knife?
An obsidian knife is a knife made of obsidian. The handle can come in two different varieties. It could be a full one-piece unit based entirely on obsidian or it could be a mix of obsidian and another material for the handle. In ancient times, handles were made of other materials, such as wood. Warriors also used deer antlers for handles.
If the handle is made of different materials, the two parts are usually connected through a primitive mechanism. Simply put, drilling holes into obsidian and fitting a handle the right way may not be the smartest solution. It will lose its hardness, so it becomes more likely to break down. On the same note, it could break while in use and its sharp edges could cause severe injuries.
What makes obsidian knives so interesting?
A well-crafted obsidian blade will bring in an impressive cutting edge. When done correctly, the edge will be very sharp. It is way sharper than high-end steel surgical scalpels too. With three nanometers in thickness or even less, the blade can be so sharp that it will slice molecules.
No matter how sharp and qualitative a metallic knife is, a simple view over a microscope will still show irregularities in the blade. Nothing is perfect and no knife can get close to it. Obsidian does though. Even when looked at through an electron microscope, the edge will still look even and perfectly smooth, so it is as close as you can get to perfection.
You probably ask yourself – what makes obsidian so sharp? It is relatively simple. It is glass. It is also similar to it when it comes to its physical characteristics. It is extremely fine though. When sharpened, it has an exquisite point. With all these, many obsidian knives or blades tend to be brittle too – unless polished.
For these reasons, obsidian knives have limited uses. They can be used in the medical industry, but they also make good collectibles and decorative items. Besides, if you truly want to use them in the kitchen, they are mostly suitable for small fruits and vegetables.
Obsidian knives in the medical industry
Obsidian knives are often associated with primitive times, so they make good collectibles. But believe it or not, there are still some professionals out there who rely on it. Some surgeons rely on ancient techniques for extremely fine incisions. Such techniques are not always accredited, yet professional surgeons rely on high-end obsidian knives now and then.
Scarring is minimal, Given the sharpness of this edge, the tissue is barely exposed to the trauma. It heals in no time and the final result will be much better in terms of cosmetics. Unsurprisingly, you could nick yourself with an obsidian knife and you may not even feel it – this is how fine the edge is. Other than that, obsidian also makes a good alternative to patients who are allergic to metals.
Obsidian knives as collectibles
Made of volcanic rock, the super sharp knife is no longer so common. While it can be used in the medical industry too, you can still find some knives out there. Most of them are handled from one collector to another. The best knives are primitive and have a rich history – who knows how many warriors they might have killed?
Other than that, while obsidian is still around, you can also find modern obsidian knives. Again, they are usually made with decorative purposes. They are not as sharp as a surgical scalpel, but they can still give you a good cut. Some of them are modern and sleek, while others replicate the primitive style. The good news is you do have options for your collection.
Benefits of obsidian knives
Obsidian knives can certainly stand out in the crowd. They make an excellent fit for the home, whether you want to use them or display them with decorative purposes. Not sure whether or not you could use one? Here are the main advantages.
When used with decorative purposes, you want something that will match the décor. Obsidian knives are usually sleek. They are smooth and good looking. They have a dark appearance, so they will match pretty much any type of décor.
Apart from matching the décor, you are likely to get a piece with a rich history. Even if it is brand new and it replicates a primitive weapon, the obsidian knife is still an ancient technology that even the modern man has overlooked.
In terms of sharpness, obsidian knives are way sharper than most other cutting items out there. No matter what kind of high-end items you have, chances are an obsidian knife will outweigh them. Traditional materials stand no chance.
Finally, it is important to know that an obsidian knife will last for ages. These knives are extremely sturdy. Sure, they have fine edges and you could ruin their integrity if you drill them, but overall, they will easily face the taste of time.
Disadvantages of obsidian knives
If you are a knife collector and you want an ancient piece in your collection, an obsidian knife will make the difference. But if you want to use your knife for everyday tasks, it may not be the most suitable option out there.
Obsidian knives are meant to cut finely. They provide fine and straight cuts. They are not so efficient when it comes to chopping or other activities.
Other than that, unless you buy a primitive natural piece, handmade polishes and crafted obsidian knives are not always as perfect as the real thing. They often come with small imperfections in the edge. Sure, they are not visible and you may need a microscope to spot them.
Last, but not least, obsidian is extremely difficult to dye. Therefore, color options are relatively limited. You are stuck to a traditional jet black appearance – nothing else.
How to look after an obsidian knife?
An obsidian knife is a piece that requires lots of attention when handling because of its dangerous nature.
Compared to other materials, obsidian is quite easy to scratch. Try to store it in a sheath or at least a plush or soft case. If you want to display it on a wall, make sure it is stable and less likely to fall.
Cleaning is relatively simple though. You do not need any chemicals. They are contraindicated. A bit of soap and lots of water are more than enough – get a clean cloth, not the type with particles of dirt on it, as you can scratch the knife. Obsidian is a delicate material, so even mild soaps might need some dilution.
Interested in sharpening an obsidian knife? Stick to a classic sharpening stone then. Opt for the handheld type though. You need to ensure full control of every part involved in the process, which is essential when dealing with delicate materials.
On a side note, whether it comes to sharpening or using an obsidian knife, it might be a good idea to stick to cut resistant gloves. Such knives are designed to be exaggeratedly sharp, so try to stay safe and keep your fingers away from the edge.
2021’s 3 best obsidian knives available on Amazon
KnifeKits The Pioneer – Best obsidian knife on Amazon
KnifeKits has brought in a full package. You get yourself a durable handle, an obsidian blade, beeswax, and the wrap. A full set of instructions is also available.
The best part about this kit is doing it yourself. You can customize the knife and put it together for a longer or shorter blade. You can also decide on the right angle between the handle and the blade. Not only will you learn a bit about ancient techniques, but you will also get a usable knife.
The blade measures three inches in length, while the handle is about seven inches. Once you do it yourself, you can use the knife with decorative purposes or you can take it out on your hunting trips. It is excellent for skinning game.
- Full package
- Good DIY activity
- Usable in hunting
- Detailed instructions
- Doing it yourself could be dangerous, as it is too sharp
TMI Obsidian Knife Blade – Cheap obsidian knife
This obsidian knife is handcrafted. In other words, while most pieces are similar, each of them is unique in nature, patterns, and roughness.
The knife blade is also advertised to be a spear point or an arrowhead. If you are into hunting, chances are you can use it for multiple purposes.
The blade is designed to be about five inches in length. It has a sharp point and feels rough. However, since the item is handcrafted, the size might vary a little.
- Could be used as a spear point or arrowhead too
- Built to last
- Uniquely handcrafted
- The tip could break if you drop it
Treeline Obsidian Blade
Every obsidian blade made by Treeline is handmade. Two blades will never be alike, so you will get yourself a unique piece of obsidian.
The medium size is the most common one. It is between four and five inches in length. Other sizes are also available from the same manufacturer.
Different colors and nuances
Obsidian is hard to dye. Most pieces will have a black and dark appearance, yet you can get different nuances of black.
- Great durability
- Extremely sharp
- Great for more activities
- Handles are not included but must be bought separately
Obsidian knives are excellent for display mostly, but some of them are so sharp that you can use them on your hunting trips too. They feature an exquisite sharpness that you simply cannot find in metallic knives.
Obsidian is believed healing properties – metaphysical characteristics. The presence of obsidian around you – such as a display knife in your office or living room – may bring in a bunch of energetic benefits. Not scientifically proven though.
Whether you want a decorative item for your wall, a new addition to your knife collection, or a sharp primitive weapon for your hunting experience, an obsidian knife will easily make the difference.
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.