The difference between High Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel is that Stainless Steel has chromium added to carbon steel’s iron and carbon composition. The chromium bestows upon Stainless Steel its resistance to corrosion and rust. However, that rust resistance benefit of Stainless Steel comes at a price. Stainless Steel is a softer form of steel. It has less structural rigidity and won’t hold a sharp edge nearly as well as High Carbon Steel. However, High Carbon Steel blades can stain or even rust if not properly taken care of. Blades should be wiped clean and dry after use. A good mineral oil wipe down from time to time is a good practice. They might not look as shiny and they take a little more care, but High Carbon Steel blades will definitely stay sharper longer. They are the best for cutting through tough dead branches since they are stronger and sharper after steady use. Stainless Steel blades can sometimes lose their shape if you try to cut thick branches after the blade edge dulls.
At OLMSTED FORGE we manufacture our blades exclusively from High Carbon Steel so they’ll stay as sharp as possible for as long as possible, giving you years of reliable performance.