If you're in the market for cooking materials, stainless steel is one of the best. However, there are three types of stainless steel; there's 18/10, 18/8, and 18/0 stainless steel. Is 18/10 stainless steel cookware safe and good quality for cooking? If that's your concern, let's discuss the details.
18/10 stainless steel is resistant to corrosive compounds and heat. It can handle salt, rust, and acidic products better than 18/8 and 18/0 stainless steel. Additionally, it can withstand temperatures as high as 1598 degrees Fahrenheit without degrading. Therefore, it's one of the best options for cooking.
The advantages 18/10 stainless steel has over its competition seem too good to be true. What exactly is making it this durable? In addition, is 18/10 stainless steel a buy-it-for-life type of product? These are some of the concerns we'll cover in detail. To learn more, keep reading.
What Makes 18/10 Stainless Steel Durable And Safe?
Stainless steel is a product that carries a number alongside its name. Why is that? There's no doubt you've run into the other stainless steel categories. 18/10, 18/8, and 18/0 stainless steel is everywhere.
What makes 18/10 stainless steel the best for cooking? To get a better understanding of this, we'll need to take a look into the making of stainless steel products.
How It's Made
If you didn't know, stainless steel is a mixture of raw materials melted together. Smelters combine iron and carbon to produce steel; this improves the iron's strength and fracture resistance.
However, this combination is still susceptible to corrosion. So, this is where other metals come in; manufacturers will add chromium and nickel to make the steel resistant to rust and corrosion.
For this reason, you'll see numbers like 18/10, 18/8, and 18/0. The first number tells us the percentage of chromium in the mix, and the second is the nickel.
Adding other metals into the mix will affect the overall strength of the steel. If the cast has more nickel, it will be stronger and more durable. As you can guess, this means 18/10 steel is more durable than 18/8 and 18/0 steel.
Benefits of 18/10 Stainless Steel For Cooking
A combination of metals gives 18/10 stainless steel a few benefits. First, it's highly heat-resistant. It can withstand temperatures as high as 1598 degrees Fahrenheit; this means it can handle all your cooking needs without warping.
You can leave it over a fire without worrying about the material melting or bending; it's why stainless steel is a favored material for pots and pans.
Since these two metals add much-needed anti-corrosive properties, you can use stainless steel to hold acidic products. In other words, foods like vinegar and wine won't react negatively with the material.
You can classify 18/10 stainless steel as non-reactive. Reactive materials will become damaged or impart metallic flavors to your cooking if you use certain ingredients. With stainless steel, you don't have to worry about that.
You can even use it at sea without having salt or salt water affect the material! It can essentially be your go-to for all cooking needs. However, that doesn't suggest stainless steel is impenetrable.
It can handle all the acidic foods we use in cooking with ease. However, certain conditions outside of cooking can damage the material. Long-term exposure to corrosive conditions over time can rust or corrode stainless steel.
Nevertheless, 18/10 stainless steel is a good choice for nearly every cooking need. Depending on where you get it, it can be a buy-it-for-life type of product.
Food Grade Stainless Steel
There are other numbers you might find on stainless steel cookware specifications. They'll usually be in the triple digits. If you've seen numbers like 304 and 316 listed in stainless steel specifications, it's yet another number to consider.
It begs the question—what do these numbers mean? It's essentially the same thing, but it's a more accurate classification of steel.
What It Means
These three-digit numbers tell us the amount of chromium and nickel in the product. Grade 304 tells us the product has around 18-20% chromium and 8-10.5% nickel.
On the other hand, grade 316 stainless steel has around 10-14% nickel and 16-18% chromium. Thus, both grades of steel would be great for cooking usage.
However, one costs more than the other. More specifically, grade 316 stainless steel costs more than grade 304. Does the increase in chromium and nickel metals justify the cost?
Yes, but context matters. Grade 316 stainless steel offers better corrosion resistance. However, the additional corrosion resistance only matters in marine environments.
You can't replicate marine environments in a kitchen setting. For this reason, grade 304 steel is the better choice for cooking purposes.
18/10 Vs. 18/8 Stainless Steel
With the information above, you might wonder if there's a way to tell the difference between 18/10 and 18/8 stainless steel. Since grade 304 stainless steel doesn't tell us the exact metal content in the product, there must be a way to find differences.
There is! However, there are only two ways you can differentiate the two. Our first way is to look at the price; if the stainless steel contains more nickel, it will be more expensive.
The other way to tell is by putting it through extreme conditions. In other words, there isn't a concrete way to differentiate the two besides price. Performance-wise, 18/8 stainless steel will be indistinguishable from 18/10 stainless steel.
It's corrosion-resistant and can handle temperatures up to 1598 degrees F. All-in-all, 18/8 stainless steel is a good second choice if you don't want to pay the price of 18/10 steel.
Does 18/10 Stainless Steel Contain Lead?
Several metals go into the making of stainless steel. As we know, some metals can be toxic to us; one of them is lead. So, it's justifiable to be on top of concerns like this.
Does 18/10 stainless steel contain lead? 18/10 stainless steel only uses chromium, nickel, and other non-toxic metals—depending on grade.
Choosing Quality Stainless Steel Cookware
Now we know what makes 18/10 stainless steel safe and good quality for cooking. It provides anti-corrosive properties and withstands temperatures higher than you would use in a kitchen.
With this in mind, we can rest assured that we're taking the right step towards choosing 18/10 stainless steel. However, is an 18/10 grade everything we need to know about the product?
Factors To Consider
Unfortunately, it's only the first step toward choosing a quality pot or pan. An 18/10 grade tells us the stainless steel is high quality, but it's not enough when picking out cookware.
You also have to consider the construction; some companies combine metals to compensate for weaknesses. The reason is that stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat by itself.
In contrast, metals like aluminum are good conductors of heat. So, companies like Cuisinart will combine an aluminum core with stainless steel to create a product that offers the best of both worlds.
Other companies like Viking will offer 5-ply stainless steel cookware that helps with faster heating, better heat retention, etc. 5-ply stainless steel cookware sets are more costly, but it tends to be more durable.
Lastly, it's also crucial to consider the heat source. Stainless steel will work well with stove tops that rely on thermal conduction. However, some stainless steel products might not work with stovetops that rely on electromagnetism for heat.
If you have an induction stove, you'll have to ensure the stainless steel you buy is compatible.
As we've found, 18/10 grade stainless steel is premium quality. It's a non-reactive material that can withstand all your cooking needs. Hopefully, we've covered everything you need to know.
Before you go, do you have other stainless steel concerns? Are you concerned about scratches you may leave behind? To learn more, check out:
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