WHAT IS STAINLESS STEEL?
Stainless steel is not a single alloy, but rather the name applies to a group of iron-based
alloys containing a minimum 10.5% chromium. Other elements are added and the
chromium content increased to improve the corrosion resistance and heat resisting
properties, enhance mechanical properties, and/or improve fabricating characteristics.
There are over 50 stainless steel grades that were originally recognized by the American
Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Some of the important BBQ Grades and their characteristics are summarized below.
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. One test for 304 is it is non-magnetic.
316 Stainless Steel (Marine Grade)
316 offers more corrosion-resistance through the addition of molybdenum. This grade is desirable where the possibility of severe corrosion exists, such as heavy industrial atmospheres and marine environments.
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!
430 Stainless Steel
There are a lot of grills that use 430 Stainless Steel, it typically lowers that cost and durability of the grill. 430 which blends17 percent chromium and 0.12 percent carbon contains more steel and is magnetic. The most important tip when buying a grill made of 430 is to look for a thick gauge and remember to clean your grill more frequently.
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!
SPECIAL NOTE FOR LOCATIONS NEAR POOLS AND COASTAL AREAS
The 304 stainless steel material used in the construction of a your grill is highly rust resistant, however, chlorine in the air from swimming pools or the salt from sea air may cause surface rust to appear and even create some pitting if left on the product.
Here are a few tips to avoid this;
• Regularly wipe down the exterior surfaces with a damp cloth. (Micro fiber cloths such as E-cloth perform very well).
• Allow the surfaces to dry before installing the cover. – Do not cover a damp grill.
• In extreme environments apply a rust inhibitor which leaves a microscopic protective layer on the grill. Products that provide a layer of vapor corrosion inhibitors (VpCI™) protect the surface very well.
• For seasonal storage use the product referred to above, ensure the grill is dry and then cover and secure the cover to minimize the amount of damp air getting to the surfaces.
STAINLESS STEEL CLEANING
Stainless steels need to be cleaned for aesthetic appearance and to preserve corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is protected from corrosion by a thin layer of chromium oxide. Oxygen from the atmosphere combines with the chromium in the stainless steel to form this passive chromium oxide film that protects from further corrosion. Any contamination of the surface by dirt, or other material, hinders this process and traps corrosive agents, reducing corrosion protection. Thus, some form of routine cleaning is necessary to preserve the appearance and integrity of the surface. Stainless steels are easily cleaned by many different methods. They actually thrive with frequent cleaning, and, unlike some other materials, it is impossible to “wear out” stainless steel by excessive cleaning. The effect of surface/pattern roughness, grain/pattern orientation, and designs that allow for maximum rain cleaning (exterior applications) should be considered.
In order to maintain the attractive appearance over the life of your stainless steel grill and cabinets it is important to take the following steps:
• After each use wipe down the exterior of the grill to remove grease and splatters.
• Be sure to follow the cleaning instructions for keeping the grates and burners clean and ready for use – see details for cleaning in your grill’s Care & Use Manual
• Use a commercially available Stainless Steel cleaner to clean and polish the exterior surfaces. – Doing this on a regular basis minimizes the amount of effort required.
• Part of the appeal of your stainless steel grill is the fine grain finish. When removing stubborn stains – do not use metallic abrasives and always rub in the direction of the grain.
• Some household cleaning products are not suitable for stainless steel; be sure to read the label before using on your grill.
• Solutions used for cleaning concrete and masonry can be very corrosive and will ‘attack’ stainless steel. Ensure your stainless steel grill and cabinets are well protected before you allow use of such chemicals near your grilling area.