The surfaces in a commercial kitchen must be durable and resistant to the daily wear and tear caused by scorching hot pots, pans, and razor-sharp knives. When faced with these challenges, stainless steel far outshines its granite, laminate, and butcher block competitors, making it ideal for countertops, Stainless steel benches, Stainless steel sinks, and more in a commercial kitchen.
What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is a group of iron-based alloys that contain at least 10.5% chromium, which provides the steel with valuable corrosion-resistant and heat-resistant properties. Often, specific types of stainless steel with different chemical compositions are designated by three-digit numbers.
304 Stainless Steel
This is the most common type of stainless steel and is used in a variety of industrial applications. It is composed of iron alloyed with 18% to 20% chromium and 8% to 10% nickel, making it highly corrosion-resistant and easy to form into various shapes. With a passive layer of chromium protecting the steel underneath, it can withstand the corrosive effects of organic acids from fruits and vegetables, as well as cleaning and disinfectant solutions.
These properties allow 304 steel to be used in a variety of harsh environments. As the most common type of food-grade steel due to its unreactivity to organic acids, it has a wide range of applications in the food processing industry. Some uses include:
- Tubing and valves
- Surgical tools
- Aircraft and automotive parts
430 Stainless Steel
This stainless steel alloy is composed of around 80% iron and 16% to 18% chromium. Although not a standout in any particular category, its low cost and fairly durable combination of heat resistance, ductility, and corrosion resistance make it a popular all-purpose steel. Due to its high iron content, it classified as a ferritic steel, with higher heat conductivity and magnetism than 304 steel. It is resistant to corrosion and oxidation and can be easily worked due to its high ductility and elasticity. These properties make 430 steel well-suited for a variety of applications such as:
- Automotive trim
- Dishwasher lining
- Industrial roofing
- Heat-resistant parts for appliances
However, when compared to 304 steel, 430 steel is more prone to rusting and less resistant to pitting and crevice corrosion. Thus the tradeoff to consider when choosing between 304 and 430 steel is cost vs. lifespan.
Why Choose Stainless Steel for Your Kitchen?
Stainless steel, used in everything from cookware to countertops, is one of the most common materials found in kitchens today. In addition to its well-known corrosion resistance to the organic acids found in all sorts of food and drink, it is also easy to sanitize and clean.
Unlike granite, plastic, or wood, stainless steel has an impermeable and non-porous surface. This is important in preventing the absorption of moisture, organic matter, and the subsequent formation of bacterial colonies and general decay. A durable surface resistant to chipping or flaking also means that no chemicals or unwanted particles will find their way into your food.
In a commercial kitchen, these characteristics are vital. You can expect that each and every surface will experience heavy wear and tear each and every day. Banging pots and pans, dripping oil and grease, raw and cooked food, and abuse from knives and other tools means that clean, durable surfaces are essential to the functioning of a commercial kitchen. In addition to countertops, stainless steel benches, sinks, shelving, and cabinets are needed to accommodate the entire process of food preparation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all stainless steel types food grade?
304, 316, and 430 are some examples of food grade stainless steel. Among them, 304 is the most common type used to build sinks, benches, and other surfaces. Other types of steel may trade off corrosion resistance for other properties or vice versa, making them suitable for other applications, such as construction materials or structures in marine environments. Many different options for stainless steel are available for use in the kitchen, but make sure that the properties and the quality of the type of steel fit your needs before you purchase.
What is the difference between 304 and 430 steel?
The three-digit number that designates a grade of stainless steel refers to the properties, such as durability, malleability, corrosion-resistance, and temperature resistance, that the steel possesses. These properties depend on the chemical composition of the steel, usually the chromium and nickel content, at least for food and kitchen applications.
Because 304 stainless steel contains much more nickel and chromium compared to 430 steel, it is much more durable and corrosion-resistant. Additionally, the presence of nickel in 304 steel also makes it more malleable and easier to press and draw. 430 steel, on the other hand, is more prone to cracking when put under stress.
The dangers of crevice corrosion to the lifespan of a steel surface or appliance means that periodic disassembly and cleaning of products made from 430 steel is recommended, especially because of its lower corrosion resistance compared to 304 steel. When narrow spaces between different stainless steel parts trap gas or fluid that cannot exit, corrosion can easily penetrate the protective layers on the steel. Areas where gaskets, washers, overlaps, and flanges can be found are especially susceptible to this kind of corrosion.
Is stainless steel rust-free?
Stainless steel can never be completely rust-free forever. However, if maintained well and kept away from highly corrosive conditions, stainless steel sinks and benches can last much longer than products made from other materials.
Why should you use stainless steel in the kitchen?
Stainless steel is durable, corrosion-resistant, and easy to clean. Compared other materials commonly used in the kitchen, stainless steel does not chip, stain, or harbor bacteria.- Long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing, stainless steel benches, sinks, and countertops are a must-have in any domestic or commercial kitchen.