If you know anything about metals or live in the 21st century, you’ve probably heard of stainless steel. Stainless steel is one of the most commonly used metals in the world for many reasons, including aesthetics and durability. That’s why we see it used in a variety of industries like medical and construction, but you’ll definitely find it hanging out in kitchens, as it’s a favored metal for home appliances and cutlery.
From construction and chemical oil processing to home appliances, stainless steel’s unique characteristics are what make it desirable to multiple industries. Its chemical composition is part of that desirability. Stainless steel is an alloy of carbon and iron, meaning these elements make up the majority of the metal. But the secret ingredient that makes stainless steel well…stainless, is chromium! Stainless steel contains at least 10.5% chromium. This chemical element that takes the form of metal has high corrosion resistance and excellent hardness. Stainless steel’s corrosion resistance can be furthered by adding other elements such as titanium, nickel, manganese, and niobium.
A Little History
Stainless steel’s first origins began when Louis Vauquelin, a French chemist, discovered chromium in 1797. After creating chromium, he combined it with iron and noticed how well it resisted oxidizing agents. This meant that the steel became resistant to rust. Although, this combination of chromium and iron was not truly stainless steel, yet.
The first true stainless steel, which they called rustless steel, was invented in the early 20th century when Harry Brearley mixed a concoction of 12.8% chromium with iron. Brearley hailed from the town of Sheffield, England, a town famous for cutlery since the 16th century. Metalwork was common in this town, and Brearley was looking for a solution to the erosion that plagued the gun barrels of the British Army. He sought to fix the problem before the impending World War exploded across Europe, and thus stainless steel was born!
Construction and Energy Industries
For construction and energy industries, stainless steel’s durability and resistance to high temperatures make it an ideal material. For construction, its corrosion resistance leaves buildings and roofs looking new for years while its durability can protect from intense and damaging weather. For the energy industry, stainless steel’s resistance to high temperatures is what makes it useful.
A Natural Fit for Sanitary Needs
For medical, food service, and home appliance industries, stainless steel is the first choice due to its easy sterilization. Bacteria is less likely to survive on stainless steel because the metal is not as porous as other materials such as rubber or plastic. This can be extremely desirable for a family home as well! Life is a lot easier for Mom and Dad when they don’t have to scrub their fridge to get rid of food smears and sticky handprints. All it takes is disinfectant and a washcloth to get your kitchen appliances looking shiny and new. Stainless steel is a huge win for clean people everywhere!
Home Appliance and Automobile Aesthetics
The automotive and home appliance industries mainly use stainless steel for beauty. Not only is the steel durable and easy to clean, but it looks pretty too! Cars are typically made of stainless steel because of their sleek look and shiny surface. Top quality cars and vehicles tend to have more stainless steel parts to raise their value.
Why is it the most in-demand you may ask? The answer lies in the sleek and shiny nature of stainless steel. Stainless steel home appliances give your kitchen and laundry room a more modern and expensive look. The color is neutral, making it blend in perfectly with any color present. This means that if you wish to redecorate your kitchen you know your appliances will match your new decor!
Stainless steel appliances are super durable and easy to clean. While its nonporous surface protects the steel against bacteria it also protects it from collecting long-lasting stains. It is super resistant to damage such as rust and heat. This leaves your kitchen appliances looking shiny and new after years of use!
Stainless steel is a highly utilized metal in a variety of industries because of its cleanliness and resistance to bacteria, its durability and corrosion resistance, and most of all, its lasting aesthetics. A metal once intended for the barrels of British guns has now become one of the most desired finishes to add value to automobiles and your home. Stainless steel’s clean, sleek, and modern look leaves your home looking fresh and seems to never go out of style.
Sarah is responsible for a wide variety of tasks as a Marketing Specialist for Kloeckner Metals, assisting with data management, internal and external communications, and SEO management. She's a 2022 graduate of Georgia College and State University where she received a B.A. in Mass Communication. Her past experience includes heading the Georgia College radio station as PR and Event Planning Manager.