Types of Metal – What is Stainless Steel?
- Stainless steel is an iron and chromium alloy containing more than 11% chromium. It is used for a multitude of products
- Stainless Steel, though its name suggests otherwise, is not completely ‘mark proof’. It is much more resistant to staining or marking than other metals, however, contact with certain substances will start the process that leads to staining and pitting.
- There are three types of stainless steel used to make cutlery.
18/10 – This is used for contemporary cutlery except for knives, it contains 18–20% Chromium and 8–10% Nickel. This is the only steel that can guarantee against corrosion when properly cared for.
13/0 or Knife Steel – This steel is used to make knives, as it can be hardened to create a sharp edge. The quality used is AISI 420, containing 13–14% chromium. This is the least corrosion resistant form of stainless steel.
18/0 – This steel is used for value cutlery eg Parish, Economy or some value options of Contemporary cutlery. Due to the high % of chromium, it is more resistant that AISI 420 Knives but it is not a resistant at 18/10.
There are a number of corrosive substances that will damage cutlery if care is not taken to prevent it. These are salt, acids such as vinegar and lemon juice, mineral salts which are present in tap water, bleach, harsh detergents, fats and meat juices. Direct heat can also mark metal.
The main threats to stainless steel cutlery during washing are ineffective rinsing and drying. Rinsing should completely remove all remnants of food but also wash and rinse products. During drying these are likely to:
- Leave unsightly spots on 18/10 cutlery
- Corrode 18/0 cutlery and knives.
If you follow the recommendations below your cutlery will give years of service and will continue to look good:
- Wash cutlery in hot, soapy water as soon as possible after use
- Quickly rinse with hot water, wipe dry with a clean cloth immediately
- Never leave dirty cutlery to soak and never leave cutlery damp
Cutlery may be cleaned in the dishwasher. Again there are some do’s and don’t
when using dishwashers:-
- follow the manufacturer’s instructions – dishwasher salt
- wash cutlery as soon as possible after you have finished using it – prevent staining process
- Place vertically in the dishwasher with the head up, not crowded – aids rinsing
- Remove immediately after the wash/dry cycle is finished and wipe over with a dry tea towel. If the cutlery is left to cool in the dishwasher, trace mineral salts and the dishwasher salt residue will settle on the cutlery in the moist atmosphere and start the pitting and staining process.
- Do not mix stainless steel and silver plated cutlery in the dishwasher basket – causes a chemical reaction between detergents and steel – can leave marks on the silver plate.
- Do not use the rinse and hold cycle on the dishwasher – it is as damaging as leaving cutlery to soak in water.