A bit of Science – the beauty of Stainless Steel

A bit of Science – the beauty of Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel comes in different grades. Each grade has its particular qualities and has its particular applications.

Which is which and which do you want?

The beginning. Stainless Steel is an alloy. Basic Steel is made up of a mix of Iron and Carbon. When you add Chromium however, you get Stainless Steel. Depending on the mix and whether you add other elements, you get a different grade of Stainless Steel. There are at least 23 different grades of Stainless Steel, but we here will concentrate on 430, 304 and 316.

The cheapest form of Stainless Steel we use is 430 grade. It is versatile, easy to weld and has some magnetic properties. This is great steel but it does tend to corrode when in contact with acidic substances in kitchens, for example tomatoes.

So, the catering industry standard for table tops and surfaces that come into contact with raw food is 304 grade. The difference is that 304 contains Nickel where 430 doesn’t. This makes it more versatile, very durable and increases its corrosion resistance. You can test to your steel know it’s 304 grade because this steel is non-magnetic.

Do 430 and 304 grade steel rust? The simple answer is yes, they can do. As per our February 9th blog post, this steel can still be corroded by certain acids and chemicals (also found in rainwater, making it unsuitable for outdoor use). In particular, 430 and 304 are prone to rusting in salty environments.

Therefore, Fishmongers, Ship-builders and Pharmaceutical companies, when ordering Stainless Steel furniture and/or kitchen equipment, need to be looking for an even higher grade: 316. 316 has an additional metal in it, called Molybdenum. This improves its corrosion resistance to many chemicals and to saline environments (contact with sea water or sea air). In fact, 316 grade is also known in our industry as marine grade (it is also the ideal Stainless Steel for outdoor use). It is more expensive, but in the long term can save money and time.

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