Putting to bed some old myths about stainless steel

System X Storage products are made with 304 stainless steel

By its very name stainless steel is a misleading product. It’s no wonder consumers can become confused about its qualities. Over the past few decades I’ve worked with many types of metals but the one that seems to be the most misunderstood is stainless.  This is particularly true of stainless consumer goods like BBQ’s and appliances. There is a common assumption that if it’s stainless steel it must be strong and long lasting. Unfortunately this is not the case so I figured it was time to clear up the confusion and knock a few common myths on the head.

Myth Number 1: Stainless Steel is magnetic.

Have you tried to attach a magnet to stainless steel? It most probably didn’t stick.

The most common stainless steels (300 series) are not magnetic due to their chromium and nickel content. It is actually the nickel which modifies the structure of the steel making it non-magnetic. Nickel is the essential alloying element that gives stainless its strength and toughness. It significantly increases the metals resistance if it’s exposed to acid.

Myth Number 2: All Stainless steel is good quality.

This is absolutely not the case. Stainless steel comes in many compositions, alloys, and strengths and not all stainless has the same properties. Some types are best for use in consumer products – like 304 stainless which is commonly used in household appliances, handrails, elevator interiors, hospital equipment and kitchen fit outs

Manufacturers often promote their use of stainless steel in a product to give the perception of superior quality. Low quality stainless will tarnish quickly looking very different than the day you purchased it.

Unfortunately it’s difficult to tell if stainless steel is low or high quality just by looking at it. The chances are if the item is relatively cheap from an unknown manufacturer or one with no track record then it is probably not worth buying.

Like with all purchases if it seems too cheap there is probably a reason why. In fact if a stainless steel contains less than 10.5% chrome then technically it’s not stainless steel. Try to buy from trusted brands that can back their claims and have solid and legitimate product reviews

Myth Number 3: Stainless steel won’t rust.

Stainless steel can corrode over time if exposed to things such as grinding dust from steel or exposure to harsh chemicals such as strong acids. In these examples it is not the material failing but what they are coming into contact with. Exposure to salt water, acid rain and certain chemicals can have an effect on most steel. However, stainless is less likely to corrode and rust than a carbon steel when expose to these elements.

Most often stainless will tarnish or stain because it has been exposed to a lesser quality metal. For example, if a good quality stainless steel product is fixed into place using inferior quality screws – the rust from poor quality screws will tarnish the good quality stainless steel.

 Myth Number 4: Stainless steel is hard to clean.

In fact stainless steel might be one of the easiest metals to clean. All you need is soap and water, or furniture polish or glass cleaner. Never use abrasive scrubbing cloths such as Scotch Brite pads as these will scratch the surface of the material.  Specific stainless steel cleaners are also available.

Stainless is still widely considered to be one of the most hygienic materials to use because it’s easy to clean and sterilize. It is often the top choice for use in commercial kitchens and medical facilities.

Myths debunked!

Good quality stainless steel is still the best choice in metal for manufacturers who seek to make premium quality consumer products that will last.  Just make sure before you buy to do some checking to ensure it’s the good stuff and you’ll be set.

There you have it. Now that some common consumer myths surrounding stainless steel have been put to bed we can all rest a little easier!