Stainless steel is an alloy of several different types of metal that, when combined, are stronger and more durable than when they are separate. By adding and subtracting various elements to stainless steel, engineers have been able to create many different varieties of the alloy, each with their own characteristics and uses. Stainless steel is a versatile metal and can be used for many different things ranging from construction to kitchen equipment. Many different types of stainless steel grades are used in foodservice establishments, and each type has its own pros and cons. To make an informed decision when purchasing food grade stainless steel equipment, you should understand the major elements in the alloy, the different grading systems, and the main types of stainless steel.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a durable and affordable metal that is used for a wide variety of purposes. It's strong, making it perfect for construction purposes, and it's corrosion resistant, so it can last a long time without being replaced or breaking.
Corrosion: Corrosion describes the natural process where stainless steel breaks down into a more chemically stable form. The most common and well-known form of corrosion is rust. Stainless steel is inherently more resistant to corrosion than other metals, but it will eventually corrode. There are factors that can speed up corrosion as well, such as exposure to salt, excess moisture, or harsh acids.
Alloy: An alloy is a metal that is made by combining several types of metal together. For example, stainless steel is not found naturally but is made by combining iron, carbon, and various other metals.
Element: "Element" is a chemistry term that refers to atoms that have the same number of protons. Elements are the most basic form of substances, and they are combined to form an alloy. Some common elements you may have heard of are oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and iron.