Stainless Steel 304 OR 316?

Why stainless steel? It has great anti-corrosion properties but being an alloy composed mainly of iron can have its limitations – but combine it with a host of other elements and you have a metal that is perfect for many different uses.

Chromium is key to its composition along with copper, aluminium, phosphorus nitrogen, nickel, titanium, and selenium.
But there are many variations of stainless steel with varying application uses. 304 and 316 Grade are the most common. Both of these contain molybdenum – providing higher corrosion resistance making them perfect for exposure to environmental impacts.

Naturally any compound containing iron has the inevitability to want to rust. But why doesn’t stainless steel? As mentioned Chromium is key and reacts with rust causing oxygen, but unlike iron it is so miniscule that it is unnoticeable. Chromium forms a type of ‘barrier’ and not only this but it renews itself. What does this mean for the stainless steel – 0.002 inches of corrosion per year.

But which stainless steel is appropriate for when looking for sanitaryware fixtures and fittings?

304 – the most common form of stainless steel used around the world - is great for kitchen, food applications, general medical and veterinary applications. It is also the stainless steel that we use in most domestic sanitary ware.
316 – used more in the industrial, pharmaceutical/medical where exposed to aggressive chemicals and marine markets or if exposed to the elements in coastal areas.

Maintaining your stainless steels appearance

In order for your stainless steel to remain unmarked and looking good it is important to clean it regularly.
Unfortunately it isn’t infallible and the passive process of corrosion means it is important to always keep it clean. If you leave dirt or other substances on the stainless steel it traps the corrosive agents. But remember cleaning agents can also be harmful.
Usually, depending on the contaminant or dirt, warm water with or without a gentle detergent is all you need. Next are mild non-abrasive powders which you can use with a bristle brush or cloth.
Avoid steel wool or steel brushes as they can leave particles which can lead to rusting.
Vinegar and scouring powder is a great one for heavy cleaning.
Remember when cleaning to always wash down with water after and wipe the surface dry to avoid water spots. Remove fingerprints with glass cleaner – remember to rinse after.
Remember general household cleaners fall into either abrasive or non-abrasive categories – but it is important to note that abrasive cleaners may scratch the surface.
A low chloride or neutral cleaner is preferred in busy areas where it may not be possible to monitor rinsing of the surfaces following use – don’t be duped by a ‘for stainless steel use’ lable - there is no guarantee that it will not scratch and is low in chloride and non-acidic.
The same precautions should be taken when using commercial cleaners.
SO remember to keep your stainless steel looking new clean routinely, avoid chloride containing cleaners, rinse with warm water and dry.

Need help choosing?

If unsure which products to choose for your medical, dental or commercial sanitaryware, just give us a call and our helpful technical team will be happy to guide you through the options. your experts in medical, dental and veterinary sanitaryware.