The TikTok-Viral Knife Storage Feature That Has Viewers Confused

One of the things that's magic about TikTok is that you can have 8668 comments and 4000 opinions about a six-second video with no words. In this case, custom cabinet design company Gravel Lane Design posted a TikTok showing off a no-slot knife block installed in a pull-out kitchen cabinet organizer. For commenters unfamiliar with spotless bristle knife storage, it does look like a bit of wizardry. But what appears to be a tub of slime, floam, tar, a gateway from "Stranger Things," or — in the imaginations of a few — caviar, is actually just a bundle of long plastic rods into which you push your kitchen knives for storage between uses. Imagine shoving a chef's knife into the end of a broom and you have the basic idea. And it looks bottomless, thanks to some mirrors installed around the block.

It's a concept so different from the traditional knife block that some viewers are confused. And even those who aren't confused manage to have such different opinions about no-slot knife blocks that viewers must surely come away more baffled than before. Depending on who you ask, these storage devices are described as durable, weak, unsanitary, easy to clean, brilliant, and pointless. Let's get to the bottom of this knife-storage trend to see if it's any (or all) of these things.

Slotless knife storage blocks

For something so simple, bristle-style knife storage does seem to raise a lot of questions, and there aren't always easy answers. One advantage is that the blocks are universal, in the sense that rather than having slots of a defined size like traditional knife blocks, you can push in a knife of any size, anywhere you choose. But, like almost everything "universal," they really aren't. A 14-inch slicing knife is always going to be too long for a 12-inch knife block, regardless of whether or not it has predefined slots. Traditional knife blocks are notoriously unsanitary ... a good reason to avoid them, and the National Sanitation Foundation calls knife blocks one of the "germiest" kitchen items, so some wonder how it's possible to clean these newcomers with their tightly-packed plastic rods. It turns out that the rod bases can usually be removed and hand-washed or cleaned in a dishwasher.

Durability is another matter, though. Users and reviewers alike report that bristle-style knife blocks tend to produce small flakes of the black plastic, often rubber or a food-grade plastic like polypropylene. Others report that, over time, the rods lose their shape, making the block hold knives less firmly. Finally, the propensity of some universal knife block models to tip over when fully loaded doesn't apply to the pull-out-mounted model demonstrated by Gravel Lane. Overall, the bristle-style knife blocks do a pretty good job. But there are some alternative approaches that might fit your needs better.

Universal alternatives to universal knife blocks

The simplest alternative it to simply use a drawer near your food prep area. This works best when the knives can be stored in a drawer insert to save counter space, or even spread out on a towel, so it might not be the best choice for a home chef with a lot of knives. Another option, somewhat less common, is the leather or waxed canvas knife roll. These are normally used by professional chefs in transit, and can be annoying to constantly unroll, pull a knife from, re-roll, and store. And cleaning a knife roll is no easier than cleaning a traditional knife block.

Your best bet might be a magnetic knife holder. These take a number of forms ... magnetic strips mounted to walls or backsplashes; countertop holders that you simply stick a knife to; and similar countertop magnetic models with a protective cover — usually a clear plastic. The uncovered models are favorites of many users and reviewers, but only when they're heavy enough (or the magnets are weak enough) so that the knives can be removed without tipping the block over. Some are on a rotating base that helps you get to the knife you need easily. Wall-mounted magnetic strips serve all of the functions of a good knife block except portability, and they can be had for around $10. Countertop magnetic blocks range from $20 to $450.