Despite the name, white steel isn't actually white, it is named after the paper that it comes wrapped in at the factory. White steel is made from a very fine grained high purity carbon steel and is graded 1, 2 and 3 in relation to carbon content (1 has the highest). Each has its own pros and cons but as a general rule #1 will hold an edge for a long long time but can be brittle and #3 is tough but will lose its edge quickly, #2 is somewhere in the middle!
White steel is not the easiest to work with so it is a very skilled Blacksmith that can forge and temper this steel.
Carbon cuts with a silky action, hard to explain but it just feels nice. The trade off for this nice balance of edge and easy sharpening is that it will discolour or get a patina like all carbon knives. This is very light surface rust and it means you have to take a little extra care with it. Just wipe it between uses and always dry it after you've washed it.
The patina is nice though, it adds another little unique touch to your knife and something to be proud of. Once a nice patina has formed the knife will be some what protected from further rusting but continue to treat it nicely.
If you get any rust spots forming on your knife (happens if you leave the knife on a wet surface over night) then gently scrub them off with a plastic scrubber and a little warm water. Dry it and store it back where it belongs. We also sell Camellia Oil that can be wiped over periodically to protect the steel.
Any of the knive we sell that are made of carbon steel will be flagged up as such. Most come clad in stainless steels to make them easier to care for and more suitable for our busy modern lives but others are left, a treat for the real purists!
White carbon steel is more robust than some of the other carbon steels (blue steel for instance) at the expense of dropping a few percent on the level of extreme sharpness that can be achieved. If you want a great introduction to carbon knives then we think white steel knives are a great place to start your new addiction!