Stainless steel is family of steel. ‘Steel’ actually describes an entire family of ferrous metal alloy. Steel is an alloy made out of iron and carbon.
Carbon is most important constituent for steel . It gives hardness and strength . But with inclusion of carbon as an alloying element increase its brittleness and reduce its weldability .This is the reason to limit carbon composition at 2.1% . The various other alloying elements are Manganese , phosphorus , chromium, nickel.
Steel have various uses from industry to household. The various application of steel require different composition in and this make a wide range of steel from Carbon steel to Stainless steel.
In a very much general term, Carbon steel can corrode whereas stainless steel is protected from corrosion. This allow stainless steel use in corrosive environment like salty water.
But question is how to identify the steel is carbon steel or stainless steel.
Stainless steel has a high chromium content that forms an invisible layer on the steel to prevent corrosion and staining.
There is an in built chromium oxide layer in stainless steel, which is not present in carbon steel.
So, check the composition of your steel . If it contains chromium more than 10.8% then it is in category of Stainless steel. If chromium is less than 10.8% then it is in category of carbon steel or just alloy steel.
Carbon steel has a higher carbon content, which gives the steel a lower melting point, more malleability and durability, and better heat distribution.
Stainlesssteel is preferred for many consumer products like watches and utensils and can be used decoratively in construction, while carbon steel is often preferred in manufacturing, production and in projects where the steel is mostly hidden from view.
Crude Oil refinery mostly use Carbon steel . For some special case when there is corrosive environment with Sulphur then Stainless Steel is used. In another area i.e. medical, food sector etc , Stainlesssteel is desirable because of its anti rusting property.
The composition of Chromium varies as per grade of steel . However it should not be less than 10.8%.
Inclusion of chromium make stainless steel costlier than Carbon steel.
A general trend reflects Stainless steel 2.5 times costlier than Carbon steel.
Benefits of Stainless Steel
A fundamental property of stainless steel is its strength. It remains incredibly strong at very high or low temperatures, making it a highly sought after metal for demand applications like aviation.
• Easy to clean
As it is one of the most hygienic materials, its use in catering and medical applications is suitable. It doesn’t support the growth of bacteria and is easy to clean and sterilize, hence is low maintenance. It can be cleaned using a swab and an all-purpose cleaner, making it beneficial for use in kitchens and hospitals.
Strength is not the only property of stainlesssteel. It also looks great which is why it is commonly featured in architecture. It adds a sleek and contemporary look to classic and modern spaces, without compromising on functionality.
• Corrosion resistance
Stainlesssteel can fend off rust and water stains as it is highly resistant to corrosion. This is why stainlesssteel applications extend to outdoor as well as indoor applications at various pressure and temperature extremes. This property of stainless steel comes from the addition of chromium to the metal, which when exposed to oxygen, creates a fine film over the steel to protect it.
Most of the stainless steel is made from recycled steel. Impressively, its qualities do not deteriorate once the metal is recycled, allowing it to be reused continuously and benefit the environment.