In the knife industry, titanium is not just used to make blades but also handle scales. The metallic white material offers several special properties. While pure titanium is rarely used in knife production these days, titanium alloys are still very popular for making high-quality knife handles.
Titanium is extremely strong and light and offers high corrosion and temperature resistance. The material is particularly corrosion-resistant because it creates a protective layer as soon as it touches oxygen. Under most conditions, this protective layer either shields the titanium from corrosion entirely or at least strongly inhibits corrosive effects. Although titanium is much lighter than steel, it is still very strong. In physics, the strength of an object describes its resistance to the impact of external forces without breaking. Temperatures above 400°C, however, make titanium lose much of its strength. Therefore, titanium alloys are mostly used in knife production. Alloys are metallic materials consisting of at least two different base materials. The titanium alloys used to make knives usually contains vanadium or aluminum, two elements which significantly increase the strength of titanium at high temperatures. The purity of a titanium alloy is denoted by its classification.
The classification devised by the international standards organization ASTM International is widely accepted around the world. It defines 35 grades of purity for titanium alloys, with the first four grades being reserved for pure titanium. If you are in the market for a knife with handles scales described as "made from titanium", you should check whether they were made from pure titanium or a titanium alloy, as some of these handles scales simply receive a titanium coating.
The coating usually hides another – and often less expensive – material that might peek through one day, if the titanium coating wears off with use. While pure titanium has become rare and can usually be recognized by its high price point, the difference between titanium alloys and titanium coatings is often not easily recognizable for non-experts.