Safety in the Kitchen: How to Properly Dispose Knives

Though many knives have the ability to last a number of years with the correct usage and maintenance, there may come a time that you will want to replace your current knife set with shiny new ones.

If your knives are damaged or so dull that they can’t be brought back with a whetstone then it just might be time to say goodbye. However, you can’t just throw away a knife in a trash can. There are some steps you need to take in order to dispose of your knives safely.

Salvaging Your Knife

Can your knives absolutely not be saved?

It is best to be reasonably sure of this before deciding to take further steps in the disposal of your knives. If the blade is only slightly bent, blunt, and/or has a little bit of rust you might be able to bring your knife back to life.

Using a whetstone or electronic sharpener are the best methods of trying to salvage your knives from bent or blunt blades. With rust, you can always try a reliable cleaner along with good cleaning practices to hopefully remove any rust that might be afflicting your knife.

If these at-home measures can’t do the trick and you are dead set on keeping your knife you do always have the option of going to a professional. A professional knife sharpener just may be able to restore your blade for a nominal fee. I would only suggest this option if the knife in question is on the higher-end and you were hoping it would last you a little longer.

Click here for some great knife sharpening and maintenance tips.

Donating Your Knife

Are your knives still usable?

If you’ve decided that even with minor damage you still want to replace your old knives for something new, another great option is to donate your knives. This option allows for others to benefit from a nice used set for their kitchen.

However, before you go to your local thrift store or donation center you’ll want to call ahead to ensure that they do, in fact, take accept donations of sharp objects, such as knives. Different companies have different policies, so just because the first thrift store you call doesn’t accept knives doesn’t mean the next one will.

When you find a thrift store who can take your old knives you will want to clean them and generally give them a good sprucing before handing them over. You can do this by following cleaning best practices for knives.

It also doesn’t hurt to try your best to sharpen the knives again, either using a whetstone or electronic sharpener. Even if you don’t have access to these tools, using a honing rod is preferable to not trying to make the knives as presentable and safe as possible before donating.

Next, you will want to make sure you wrap them up for safe delivery. While some people will be alright with wrapping the blade in tape, it is not the best option and should really be avoided if the idea is to have the knife usable afterward.

If you are unsure of how to properly store your knife for delivery to the thrift store here is a quick rundown of what you can do to avoid injury:

  1. Find a piece of cardboard or other thick durable material that will be longer and wider than the blade when this is done.
  2. Fold in half
  3. Place blade within the fold, making sure the back of the knife is flush against the cardboard. This will prevent the blade from dulling further.
  4. Close the flap of the cardboard and seal shut with tape. Again, but sure that the tape won’t touch the blade, it should only be touching the cardboard in order to create a secure seal.

Once you have ensured that your knives are nice and safely wrapped, you can donate them.

Recycling Your Knife

Is the metal reusable?

Even if the knife itself is not salvageable there is still the option of having the metal recycled. This is the preferred option over simply discarding your knives into a trash can, not to mention safer.

You will want to double-check with the company you would like to recycle your knives at, but most have a dedicated metal recycling facility. This allows many different kitchen tools and appliances to be recycled safely.

For your safety and those at the recycling center, it is best to again wrap up the blade of the knife securely. This time, however, you won’t need to worry so much about damaging the blade. The idea is to wrap up the knife enough so as not to damage yourself or the workers at the recycling center.

Here is another safe way to wrap your knife:

  1. You will need sheets of a newspaper and plenty of it. An average of five to six sheets should do it.
  2. Wrap these sheets around the blade, being sure to cover all edges.
  3. Make sure you can still tell it is a knife even when wrapped.
  4. Use tape to secure the sheets of newspaper to make sure they stay put. Don’t be afraid to use plenty.

Even wrapping a blade in something as simple as the newspaper will ensure the knife is transferred safely.

Disposing of Your Knife

Is it the end of the line for your knife?

When salvaging, donating, or recycling is no longer options you will have no choice but to dispose of your knife. While this may seem to be as easy as tossing it in the garbage there are a few safety measures you should definitely do first.

Not all communities allow for knives to be discarded in residential trash cans. Different cities may have different rules and procedures that should be followed for sharp objects. The most direct way of finding out these procedures is to call the local authorities.

Even if they don’t allow for sharp objects to simply be disposed of, they will know where you can dispose of them. Some towns have a dedicated sharps disposal. You can locate your local sharps disposal by searching your town name and sharps disposal.

If your town does allow you to dispose of your knives in your own trash can there are a few things you will have to do.

  1. Make sure you have wrapped the blade, either using the cardboard or newspaper method.
  2. It is important that the container you use to dispose of your knife does not leak, cannot be punctured, and will not break.
  3. Lastly, to make sure that it is clear to whoever handles your trash that you have thrown away a knife mark it with the word “SHARPS” in big clear letters. This will warn anyone who handles the knife that they need to be safe when doing so.

No matter what level of damage or use your knife has experienced there is an option for safely salvaging, donating, recycling, or disposing of them without too much muss or fuss. The key is, as it is with anything involving knives, is to always be diligent about your safety and the safety of others.

If you follow any of the above suggestions you can move on to your next great knife or set of knives knowing you can handle owning knives all the way to the end.

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