A Botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys researching and writing about topics that interest her.
Stainless steel is an iron-based alloy. It is a strong alloy and is resistant to corrosion and rusting. It can withstand high temperatures.
It is also known as "inox" steel or corrosion-resistant steel. It has a minimum of 10.5 % of chromium and more than 50% of iron.
Stainless steel may also have an addition of Nickel, Molybdenum, and Titanium to improve the structure of stainless steel.
Stainless steel is produced in the form of coils, sheets, plates, bars, wires, and tubing to be used for different purposes.
Stainless steel was discovered by Harry Brearley when he was researching for an alloy that was resistant to corrosion and could withstand high temperatures.
Why is stainless steel resistant to corrosion?
The chromium present in steel forms a protective layer of chromium oxide. This protective layer helps to prevent further corrosion of the metal surface and makes it resistant to staining.
Even if the surface layer of chromium oxide is scratched off, the chromium content in the stainless steel will again form another protective layer of chromium oxide when it comes in contact with atmospheric oxygen. This makes stainless steel resistant to corrosion for a very long time. It has a life expectancy of 100 years.
Composition of stainless steel
Stainless steel is an alloy. The term “alloy” means a mixture of metals.
The following elements are added to improve the quality and structure of steel –
1. Chromium – makes the alloy resistant to corrosion.
2. Carbon-carbon is often added to increase the hardness and strength of the alloy.
3. Nickel – Nickel may or may not be added. The addition of Nickel helps to withstand high temperatures and also aids in making the alloy corrosive resistant.
When the need arises, Molybdenum and Titanium are added to make the stainless steel more resistant to corrosion and high temperatures.
The three major classes of Stainless Steel
1. Austenitic Stainless Steel
Austenitic stainless steel is composed of 16-26% Chromium, 6-22% Nickel, has a low carbon content, and is non-magnetic. The addition of Nickel increases corrosion resistance.
This type of steel is very sturdy and is hardened even more by the process of heating, cooling, and heating again. It is commonly used for making knives and cooking utensils. It is highly resistant to scaling and high temperatures.
2. Ferritic Stainless Steel
Ferritic Stainless Steel is a chromium-iron alloy with 17-27% chromium and low carbon content with magnetic properties. Ferritic stainless steel is used in the production of cookware and household appliances.
3. Martensitic Stainless Steel
Martensitic Stainless Steel is an alloy of chromium and iron with 10.5%-17% chromium along with carbon. It is strong and hard but brittle and difficult to mould or weld. It is used for making equipment for chemical and oil industries. It is also used to make surgical instruments.
Stainless Steel - The ideal metal alloy for cookware
- Stainless steel is ideal for kitchen utensils because it has no pores or cracks for germs to enter and breed.
- It is effortless to clean and needs minimum care. It does not chip or rust easily.
- It does not react with acidic foods and does not change the flavor of the food in any way.
- Stainless steel is totally recyclable.
The many uses of Stainless Steel
1. Stainless steel is used to make many types of cookware, cutlery, and utensils.
2. It is utilized in the field of medicine to make medical equipment and surgical instruments.
3. Stainless steel is used to make electrical supplies, plumbing supplies, screws, nuts, washers, keys, latches, handles, wires, chains, belts, tools, machine parts, etc., for industrial purposes.
3. It is used in the automobile industry for the production of two-wheelers and four-wheelers.
4. Stainless steel is used to make jewelry and watches because it is pliable and can be molded into many shapes easily. It does not cause any skin allergies. The 316L grade of stainless steel is used for making jewelry.
5. It is used in the construction of buildings both in the infrastructure and for decorative purposes on the exterior of the buildings. The Type 316 grade of stainless steel is used on the exterior of the Petronas Twin Towers and the Jin Mao Building.
6. Stainless steel is also used in bridges, monuments, and sculptures. It is also used in the manufacture of cars, railcars, and aircraft.
7. Stainless steel is also used in the production of firearms, handguns, and pistols.
Role of stainless steel in improving the environment
Stainless steel is 100% recyclable. Stainless steel does not have any negative impact on the environment. Any stainless steel object has 60 % recycled stainless steel.
Most of the stainless steel that is used for many purposes is made up of
- 25% old scrap
- 35%new scrap
- 40% new raw materials
Stainless steel plays a significant role in saving the environment and life on earth.
1. Stainless steel helps to deliver clean drinking water
Drinking water supply pipes are made of stainless steel because it does not contaminate water because of its high resistance to corrosion and rust.
2. Stainless steel helps to bring down pollution
Diesel filters remove 95 % of smoke and 85 % of soot particles from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine. These diesel filters are made of stainless steel because they can easily withstand high temperatures.
3. Stainless steel is recently being used in many applications that help to reduce the consumption of fossil fuel.
It is used in
- Condensing boilers
- Rooftop solar panels
- Fuel cells
5. Wastewater plants use stainless steel pipes to transport wastewater products because it does not corrode easily and is low maintenance.
6. Stainless steel is used in the construction of plants that
- Dispose of waste
- Recycle paper and cardboard
7. Stainless steel is used to make recycling bins that are placed to collect waste materials for recycling.
Stainless steel improves the quality of life and helps to save the earth in countless ways.
© 2013 Nithya Venkat
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 08, 2015:
poetryman6969 yes it is a good substitute for plastic, thank you for stopping by.
poetryman6969 on May 07, 2015:
Some interesting facts about stainless steel. Since it does not have the BPA problem maybe it is a good substitute for plastics.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 07, 2015:
mary615 thank you and am happy you learned a lot about stainless steel. Thank you for the vote up and share.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on May 07, 2015:
I learned a lot about stainless steel by reading this very informative Hub. I have a set of stainless steel I got for a wedding gift in 1955, and it is used every day. I think it will outlive me!!
Voted UP, and shared.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 06, 2015:
vocalcoach thank you stainless steel is great for making jewelry and lasts for a long time. Thank you for the many votes and share.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 05, 2015:
I have a lovely bracelet made of stainless steel which brings me many compliments. I love stainless steel. Your informative hub is filled with great information. Voted up+++and sharing.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 29, 2013:
Vinaya thank you, stainless steel is very useful and long lasting alloy.
Ruchira thank you, I use a lot of stainless steel vessels too. Thanks for reading and the share.
KenWu thank you, stainless steel is an alloy with amazing properties that makes it very useful.
KenWu from Malaysia on August 29, 2013:
Interesting. I never know that there are so many facts about stainless steel. I thought all stainless steels are the same but I was wrong. Stainless steel makes me remember the food container that my parents used to keep food.
Ruchira from United States on August 29, 2013:
This was indeed a useful hub, Nithya.
Thanks for informing me about this useful material which is used in my household :)
Sharing it across!
Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on August 29, 2013:
My knowledge on steel is limited. I only knew steel is iron based alloy. Thanks for this useful and informative article.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 24, 2013:
Thank you Shyron E Shenko.
Thank you LongTimeMother.
Thank you thelyricwriter.
Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on August 22, 2013:
Vellur, very informative article on stainless steel. It was interesting learning about all the compositions and facts about stainless steel, very useful content. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared.
LongTimeMother from Australia on August 15, 2013:
I have a new respect for stainless steel now that my husband has it wrapped around the broken bones in his ankle. I no longer just associate it with kitchens. lol.
Interesting hub. Voted up +
Harry from Sydney, Australia on August 14, 2013:
Great post . .I'd have never thought about writing about stainless steel.. .something we take for granted as an everyday substance
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on August 14, 2013:
Vellur, this is an interesting hub and you did a lot of research. Don't think anyone else wrote about metals .
I could not believe that it has iron in stainless steel. Iron is the most corrosive and rusts the easiest of most metals.
Voted up and interesting and will share.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 14, 2013:
Nell Rose, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Much appreciated. Thanks for the vote and share.
Nell Rose from England on August 14, 2013:
What a great idea for a hub! not something we think about, but to read it, it really is fascinating! voted up and shared, nell
myconsumerboard on August 09, 2013:
This is a good resource for a metal that has so many uses. Interesting as well!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 09, 2013:
Jackie Lynnley thank you, stainless steel is everlasting indeed. Thanks for the votes too.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 09, 2013:
Impressive info. I love stainless steel; it just seems so ever lasting in everything from appliances to earrings. Voted interesting and useful.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 07, 2013:
billy buc thank you for your appreciation and support of my writings.
mbuggieh thank you for stopping by and for sharing your view.
Ruchira thank you for stopping by and the share, much appreciated.
always exploring you are so right, maintaining silver is a lot of hard work, Thank you.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 07, 2013:
I know i posted a comment earlier.I mentioned that i had a stainless steel kitchen in my old house and i really liked it, as far as silverware, i much prefer stainless steel, silver requires too much polishing. Great hub.
Ruchira from United States on August 07, 2013:
Useful information, nithya.
Sharing it across!
mbuggieh on August 07, 2013:
Interesting...thanks for the information!
I suspect that plastics and other synthetics will eventually replace steel---at least for most common uses.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 07, 2013:
Nice research and interesting information. This hub was a bit different for you; good to see you trying new formats and genres. Nice job!