Why Stainless Steel Kitchen Knives Are Best
Cookware and cutlery made of stainless steel is resistant to stains, rust and corrosion; plus it’s attractive. Additionally, steel possesses a high strength-to-weight ratio and since it’s easy to clean, it has hygienic advantages. Stainless steel is popular for cookware and cutlery because it’s smooth, resists corrosion and has a fabulous sheen.
A Stainless Steel Chemistry Primer
Steel is an alloy - a combination of metals, mostly iron. By adding other metals to steel, such as carbon, it can be made more durable. Chromium is another metal often added to steel in order to make steel stainless; more specifically, resistant to corrosion that could otherwise result from exposure to the atmosphere. Chromium forms a protective layer on the steel. When you hear mention of 18/10 stainless steel for instance, know that the first number refers to the steel’s chromium content. Anything over 10.5% qualifies as “stainless.” Chromium combines with oxygen to form a self-healing, protective chromium oxide film. The second number, in this case 10, refers to the nickel content of the steel. Nickel enhances the amount of protection the chromium provides.
Type 301 Stainless Steel
Steel is categorized into different series (e.g., Series 200, 300, etc.) based on its chemical composition, and most series include multiple sub-categories known as Types (e.g., Type 301, 304, 316). Types of steel have slightly different compositions and consequently, slightly different physical properties, making any particular type better suited for one application or another. The 300 Series are referred to as chromium-nickel alloys, meaning chromium and nickel have each been added to the base steel, for reasons mentioned above. Technically, Type 301 steel is known to be highly malleable, to harden quickly while being molded into an end product, and to exhibit excellent overall strength and wear resistance. Its these properties which make this steel type an excellent choice for cookware, silverware and kitchen knives, among other housewares.
Note: The chemical composition of Type 301 stainless steel is: 16-18% chrome, 6-8% nickel, .15% (max.) carbon; 2% max.) magnesium and 1% (max.) silicon.
Note: These other terms are interchangeable with Type 301: T301, grade 301, 301 stainless steel.
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