What is 18/10 Stainless Steel Cookware?

If you browse through any display of fine cookware, you're likely to see "18/10 Stainless Steel" advertised as if it’s a benefit for the cook.  However, most people have no idea what this designation actually means.  By learning what 18/10 stainless cookware is, you can decide for yourself if it's a priority for your home cookware.

What Makes Steel Stainless?

Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials for cookware because it is smooth, doesn't stick easily, is resistant to corrosion, and because its natural gleam is very attractive.  But what makes stainless steel different from regular steel?

Steel itself is an alloy, or combination of different metals, that is made up mostly of iron.  Steel is made harder and more durable than iron by adding other metals such as carbon.  However, steel remains prone to corrosion, rusting and pitting easily – which is far from ideal in cookware.

In order to make steel more suitable for use in the kitchen, another metal is added to the alloy – chromium.  Chromium has a chemical property that causes the steel to react with elements in the atmosphere, forming a protective layer over its surface.  This protective layer resists corrosion, far removing the chance of stains and rust marring the surface of your pans.

The first number in 18/10 stainless steel refers to the percentage of the alloy that is made up of chromium.  In order to be considered stainless steel at all, that number must be at least 10.5%.  A higher value of chromium means that the protective layer will be thicker and will repair itself more quickly if damaged.  Therefore, 18/10 stainless steel has a high level of chromium, and will be more resistant to staining and corrosion.

What Makes Stainless Steel Bright?

Chromium alone is not enough to create the most durable and beautiful stainless steel cookware possible.  The addition of another element to the alloy increases the effectiveness of the protective layer that forms over the steel surface, and also makes the cookware gleam more brightly.  That element is nickel.

The second number in 18/10 stainless steel refers to the percentage of nickel in the cookware.  Although 18/8 also indicates high quality stainless steel cookware, the higher both numbers are, the better the cookware.

In Conclusion

The number 18/10 in stainless steel cookware indicates a very high-quality, durable construction that will be highly resistant to stains, rust, and corrosion while maintaining a bright, attractive shine.


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