Stainless Steel: All About Food Grade 304, 18/8 and 18/10
What's the difference between the different grades of stainless steel (304, 430, 220, etc.)? What do the different numbers mean (18/8, 18/10, 18/0, etc.)? We often get these questions here at MightyNest and hope this post helps answer those questions.
The "grade" of stainless steel refers to its quality, durability and temperature resistance. The numbers (18/8, 18/10, etc.) are the composition of the stainless steel and refer to the amount of chromium and nickel (respectively) in the product.
So, what do the numbers mean?
18/8 and 18/10: These are the two most common grades of stainless steel used for food preparation and dining, also known as Type 304 (304 Grade) and are part of the 300 series. The first number,18, refers to the amount of chromium present and the second represents the amount of nickel. For example, 18/8 stainless steel is comprised of 18% chromium and 8% nickel.
304 grade stainless steel is also comprised of no more than 0.8% carbon and at least 50% iron. The chromium binds oxygen to the surface of the product to protect the iron from oxidation (rust). Nickel also enhances the corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Therefore, the higher the nickel content, the more resistant the stainless steel is to corrosion.
18/0 - Contains a negligible amount of nickel (0.75%) and therefore has a reduced corrosion resistance (is more likely to rust than 18/8 or 18/10 but still high quality) 18/0 is also referred to as Type 430, is part of the 400 series and, unlike 300 series stainless steel, is magnetic.
200 series: You may often find stainless steel food containers made from 200 series stainless steel. These are typically less expensive than 304 grade as manufacturers essentially substitute manganese for nickel. Although food safe, they are not as resistant to corrosion and not as high quality as 304 grade.
What about stainless steel flatware?
When it comes to flatware, people often assume that 18/10 is heavier in weight. Actually, there is no difference between 18/8 and 18/10 flatware when it comes to weight. The additional nickel in 18/10 flatware makes it a bit sturdier (meaning the tines of a fork are slightly more difficult to bend back and forth). The additional nickel also lends itself to a shinier surface.
What about stainless steel cookware?
Stainless steel is a great alternative to teflon coated aluminum cookware. However, on the stove or cook top, stainless steel alone doesn't provide optimal heating which is why pots and pans are generally made of tri-ply construction. In the case of a stainless steel frying pan, an aluminum core is sandwiched between two layers of 18/10 stainless steel allowing heat to distribute evenly across the pan. In these pans the aluminum does not react or come into contact with food at all.
Is stainless steel safe?
Stainless steel is one of the most common materials found in kitchens today. It's used in everything from appliances to cookware, dishware, flatware and utensils because it is durable, easy to sanitize and corrosion resistant to various acids found in meats, milk, fruits and vegetables. Most importantly though, stainless steel is a safe option when it comes to use with food and beverage, as there are no chemicals that can migrate into your food from these products.
We believe that stainless steel, glass, cast iron, wood, ceramics with lead-free glaze and bamboo are the safest materials to use in the kitchen. MightyNest offers a wide variety of stainless steel products including 18/8 water bottles, bowls, food storage containers and dishware as well as 18/10 pots and pans, bakeware, wine glasses and kids utensils.
What other questions do you have about stainless steel?