We have all see stainless steel stamp on many items in our lifetime. From knives and forks to door handles. We may even know that 430 stainless steel has a high hardness level and that 304 stainless steel is highly corrosion resistant. You may know about the finished product but do you know how stainless steel is made?
What is Stainless Steel?
Before explaining how stainless steel is made, it’s important to know what stainless steel is, and what makes it different from plain steel. At its most basic, stainless steel is an alloy of iron and several other elements (such as nickel, chromium, molybdenum, and carbon) that is more resistant to corrosion than plain iron or steel
These stainless steel elements, such as nickel, chromium, and other additives, give it a passive oxide layer that resists the formation of rust and creates a shiny, reflective surface. The shiny surface of stainless steel is very difficult to tarnish compared to plain steel, hence why it is called “stainless” steel.
Until the 1950s and 1960s, which saw the development of AOD (argon oxygen decarburization) and VOD (vacuum oxygen decarburization), the processes to produce stainless steel were slow and expensive. However, these two developments revolutionized stainless steelmaking and significantly decreased the raw material costs, increased productivity, and improved quality. This led to dramatic growth of steelmaking from the 1970s until the present.
How is Stainless Steel Made
To make stainless steel, the raw materials—iron ore, chromium, silicon, nickel, etc. —are melted together in an electric furnace. This step usually involves 8 to 12 hours of intense heat. Next, the mixture is cast into one of several shapes, including blooms, billets, and slabs.
Why Stainless Steel Does Not Rust? How is Stainless Steel Made
The Do’s of Cleaning Stainless Steel
Before you start your quest for the ultimate cleaning formula, check out the manufacturer’s instructions. They’re a great place to learn how to clean stainless steel appliances. They will often suggest the best stainless steel cleaners and indicate what cleaners could damage the finish. You can trust the manufacturer in this matter; they understand how to clean a stainless steel fridge or oven, and following their instructions can keep your appliances looking like new.
Assuming they’re not at odds with your stainless steel appliance cleaning instructions, here are a few field-tested cleaning methods that work on most finishes.
- A soft cloth dampened with warm water will often be enough for general cleaning.
- Glass cleaner is good for getting rid of fingerprints.
- Wipe in the direction of the grain to avoid leaving streaks.
- Towel dry after cleaning to prevent water spotting.
- Use a commercial cleaner to remove stains on stainless steel if needed, but always read the directions and spot-test first.
The Don’ts of Cleaning Stainless Steel
- Steel wool or brushes will scratch the surface of your stainless steel and make it more susceptible to rusting and staining.
- Abrasive cleaners will scratch the surface and dull the finish.
- Bleach and cleaners with chlorine will stain and damage stainless steel.
- Don’t leave dirty water and cleaning solution residues to dry on your stainless steel; it will create a dull finish and could leave permanent stains.
- Some tap water can be harsh and leave spots or stains. Use distilled or filtered water instead.
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