How To Maintain A Bone Saw

December 18, 2018

Like any other tool that comes into direct contact with your food, meat/bone saws need to be properly maintained in order to guarantee perfect food hygiene and prevent bacterial growth.  

The best bone saws are usually made of stainless steel, with some manufacturers opting for cast aluminum for the frames. The handles are usually made of hard plastic or some metal alloy with a rubber overmold.

Now that you know what materials are used in the production of bone saws, it is time to focus a bit more on stainless steel and its maintenance. 

butcher cuts off some meat

What Is Stainless Steel? 

Stainless steel is a specific alloy of iron with a minimum of 10.5% chromium, which creates a thin oxide layer on the surface of the steel usually known as the “passive layer.” This is what provides it with its anti-corrosive properties. What you should also keep in mind is that higher levels of chromium provide steel with better resistance to rust.  

There are many different types of stainless steel, depending on the amounts on carbon, manganese, silicon, and even molybdenum and nickel used, which can be added to impart some useful properties like increased corrosion resistance or enhanced formability.  

The most common type of stainless steel is the so-called austenitic type, known for its unique microstructure derived from the addition of nitrogen, manganese, and nickel. This type is extremely formable and weldable, with a pretty decent corrosion resistance that can be further increased by adding chromium, nickel, and molybdenum.  

Can Stainless Steel Blades Corrode? 

As experts like to put it, stainless steel alloys are “stain-less,” not “stain-impossible.” In other words, they are much more resistant to corrosion than other regular carbon or alloy steels, but they can definitely corrode under certain circumstances.  

It is very important to choose a bone saw made of stainless steel that can handle the conditions you plan on subjecting it to. Otherwise, your blade and frame might start developing pitting, crevice or even galvanic corrosion. Uniform corrosion is less severe in stainless steel and only occurs at pH values under 1.0.  

When purchasing a bone saw, you should also inspect the quality of the weld spots since they too can decay over time if not done properly.  

How To Clean Stainless Steel? 

Steel, like wood, has a grain pointed in a certain direction. Cleaning your bone saw blade and frame is much easier, quicker, and more thorough if you follow the direction of the grain. If you clean against the grain, you will push the grime and cleaning residue deeper into the small crevices of the grain, which is the main cause of crevice corrosion.  

Clean Stainless Steel bone saw

Stainless steel is rather easy to clean. All you need are two non-abrasive, lint-free cleaning rags and some mild dish soap. Simply dampen the cloth with a minimal amount of water, add some soap, and start cleaning the blade and the body of the saw. Dish soap is excellent for removing dirt, dust, and grime from stainless steel, although you might need to give it a few passes for extra stubborn stains.  

Once you are done cleaning the saw, simply remove any excess moisture with a dry cloth and apply a thin layer of food-grade silicone for extra protection against rust.  

Note that bone saws are NOT dishwasher-safe and should never be cleaned with overly aggressive chemicals (bleach, for example) that could harm the structural integrity of the material. You should also never use abrasive cleaning items like steel wool or scouring pads.  

Keeping your bone saw clean at all times is also very important for the overall safety of your food. You should clean and sanitize the blade before and up to 4 hours after each use. Make sure to use only sanitizers that advertise as stainless steel-friendly.  

Water, mild dish soap, recommended chemical sanitizers, and food-grade silicone spray are all you will ever need to keep your bone saw in perfect shape at all times. However, if you want to explore some alternatives, you can use club soda for some extra polish, white vinegar and olive oil for extra persistent stains, and flour for baked-in grime.