Stainless steel cookware is probably the most widely used of all the different cookware types. It starts as iron and has up to 8 different alloys added to it. This determines the quality of the product. Chromium and nickel are most commonly added. Chromium provides resistance from rust and corrosion while nickel adds additional rust resistance as well as hardness and adds to the high polish characteristics.
You might have noticed the numbers 18/10,18/8 and 18/0 listed on some cookware or silverware sets before. Basically this is the amount of nickel and chromium in the product. Typically on the high end products you will see either 18/10 or 18/8. 18/0 is found on the cheaper low end products and are of lesser quality. Products must have at least 11% chromium to be “classified” and nickel is not necessary. Good stainless steel cookware has 18% chromium and 8% to 10% nickel. This gives you the mirrored finish and high polished shine. 18/0 does not have nickel and therefor has a dull finish and is prone to some rusting and spotting.
Here is a simple test that you can do on your cookware to find out what you have:
Put a magnet up to your pot or pan, if it sticks you have 18/0 stainless steel, if it does not stick it is either 18/8 or 18/10. This is because of the nickel in the alloy. What the nickel does is neutralize the ferrous properties of the iron in the stainless steel alloy. Since there is no nickel in 18/0 it lets the magnet stick to it.
Some good advantages of stainless steel are that it is extremely durable. Depending on what class of stainless steel you have is related to how durable it is. Remember, the more nickel the stronger and more durable it will be. It is nonporous and extremely hard which is good because it will not absorb food or odors. The smooth surface makes it easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. It is also dent and scratch resistant and does not react to food. It is also easy to maintain the mirrored finish.
One bad thing about stainless steel is that it is a poor conductor of heat unless it has more than 1 ply. 3 to 5 ply will allow for better conductivity. “Ply” simply means layer, the more layers the better the conductivity. This only holds true because the layers are actually made of different metals which conduct heat better and are coated with stainless steel. Usually these layers or “discs” are made from either copper or aluminum.
Stainless steel is one of my favorites. Always make sure you get your cookware with riveted handles or molded into the base as one piece.
Thank you for looking and I hope this will help you.
Have a great day!