What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel is basic 'mild' steel, to which chrome has been added to create rust-resistance. A quantity of 13% or 18% chrome may be added to steel - the higher the chrome content, the higher the rust resistance. Nickel is also often added to steel at a quantity of around 10%. This gives the steel resistance to acid attack.
The highest quality stainless steel is called 18/10 stainless steel. This means that 18% chrome and 10% nickel has been added to the basic steel. This gives superior rust and acid resistance.
Is stainless steel dishwasher safe?
Yes, Stainless Steel is dishwasher safe. However, over time, the detergents and salts in the dishwasher will affect the surface of any type of cutlery. Therefore, if a little care is taken while using the dishwasher, your cutlery will last for many years.
Suppliers of cutlery recommend that you always keep the salt topped up (although not overfilled) to keep the water softener working properly, and that you use good-quality detergent and rinse aid. Never use the rinse and hold option on your machine when washing cutlery, as leaving cutlery wet in an enclosed environment will damage the surface of the steel, and start the corrosion process.
It is also suggest that you take out cutlery as soon as the programme is completed, when it is still warm and wipe off any water residue before putting away. This will prevent water stains from marking the surface.
Does stainless steel ever rust?
Yes - stainless steel can corrode. 'Stainless' was the name given to stainless steel when it was invented in the 1920's, to differentiate it from ordinary or 'mild' steel. However, it is more accurate to call it 'stain-resistant' steel. Normal steel corrodes quickly and the additives in stainless steel give a lot of protection. Stainless steel can be damaged if exposed to the following corrosive substances; Salt - whether added to foods, to the water-softener in a dishwasher, or even the mineral salts naturally present in water; Acids, including food acids and detergents, which can also be corrosive to the surface of stainless steel when left in contact for extended periods.
For these reasons, we advise that cutlery is washed promptly after use, and is never left to soak for long periods in soapy water.
How can you tell the difference between different qualities of stainless steel?
Generally, the better quality the steel, the more expensive the cutlery! Another way to determine this is to compare the colours. Top-quality 18/10 stainless steel is brighter and whiter in colour than 13/10 stainless steel, which is quite grey in colour. Testing with a magnet will also help you find out how high the quality is. Steel is a ferrous metal and will stick to a magnet. The more steel in a stainless steel 'recipe' the stronger a magnet will stick. 13/0 steel contains only 13% chrome, and is therefore very attractive to a magnet. 18/10 steel contains more chrome (18%), and therefore is less magnetic - it will stick, but not as strongly. Top quality 18/10 stainless steel will be only slightly attractive, or not magnetic at all.
Why do some stainless steel patterns cost so much more than others?
When comparing one cutlery pattern with another, and determining it’s value in relation to it’s price, the size of the piece is important to consider. The gauge (thickness) of a pattern also affect the cost - thicker pieces feel nicer in the hand when you are using them and yet they do cost more.
The quality of the finishing also affects the price. An idea is to look between the fork prongs of an expensive piece of cutlery and compare it to a less expensive piece. Fork prongs on a more expensive pattern will be cleanly cut, without rough marks or ridges. Budget cutlery will look less refined in between the fork prongs, as they have been clipped out, but have not been polished.
Hollow handle knives are more expensive to produce than solid handle (one-piece) knives, but allow for much fatter designs, which in turn feel nicer to hold. A hollow handled knife will also have a superior knife blade to give a better, longer lasting cutting edge.
Finally, the design of the cutlery itself can have an impact on the cost of the product. Well-designed modern pieces with unusual shapes are often more complex and time consuming to make than simpler, more traditional patterns