There are over 150 grades of stainless steel, and there are around 15 grades that are commonly used. Stainless steel does not easily corrode or rust except in low-oxygen, high-salinity environments. Here we will look at different surface finishes of stainless steel, that are suitable for an outdoor kitchen environment.
304 Stainless Steel
304 stainless steel is one of the most desired and widely used grades of stainless on the market. Durability and beauty have made this 304 the hottest grade on the market. Type 304 stainless steel is a T 300 Series Austenitic Stainless Steel. It has a minimum of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, combined with a maximum of 0.08% carbon. This alloy is extremely durable, as well as favorable for creating a beautiful finish.
443 Stainless Steel
Another common stainless steel is 443. It is a Ferrritic alloy that consists of Chromium and Titanium, while extremely low in Carbon. Together, these elements give 443 stainless a strong resistance to corrosion, especially against moisture and salt. Although most Ferritic alloys cannot compete with Austenitic alloys in terms of durability, the high level of Chromium in 443 makes it at least as corrosion-resistant as 304. Also, when compared to 304, 443 expands even less with heat, which means less stress and less warping. Remember, since 443 has high levels of Chromium, it is magnetic. This does NOT mean, however, that it is a low quality stainless! Even with a magnet on it, Chromium is one of the most corrosion-resistant metals around!
202 & 201 Stainless Steel
Some grills are also using 201 and 202 stainless, which has recently become very popular. Although they are Austenitic alloys, like 304, these alloys are not comparable to 304 in terms of durability and resistance to corrosion. They were created to cut the cost of Austenitic alloys by replacing most of the Nickel with Manganese or Nitrogen. The problem with this is that neither Manganese nor Nitrogen are nearly as resistant to corrosion as Nickel. So, although these alloys are NOT magnetic, they do not stand up to the elements nearly as well as 304 or 443. 201/202 is not very corrosion-resistant, especially under high temperatures, but low cost has made it more and more commonly used. Don’t let the magnet deceive you!
Before you trash your steel, do some research. You may find you’d rather trash your magnet!