Stainless Steel Buying Guide – Part 1: An Introduction to Stainless Steel
At some point, everyone who has opened or owned a restaurant has had their mettle tested. As men and women of steel, we know you’re up to the challenge, and your courage and perseverance to build, run and maintain an eatery are an inspiration. To succeed, you need your kitchen appliances and supplies to be as durable as your resolve to make your restaurant a success. Steel is your friend; figuratively and literally.
Stainless Steel and Foodservice, the Perfect Couple.
If you own or work in a restaurant or foodservice venue, take a close look at your dining room, prep area, and kitchen. On many tables and bars, in nearly every appliance, and at the beginning of most food preparations; you will find stainless steel. Prep tables, work tables, equipment stands, sinks, shelves, pans, and flatware are just a few of the many places you will find applications of stainless steel within a commercial food service environment.
That said, stainless steel is hardly contained to the foodservice industry. From industrial equipment to major appliances, from skyscrapers to surgical instruments, and from cookware to cutlery; you’ll find stainless steel everywhere you look. Let’s turn to science for just a moment to understand where stainless steel came from. In his article, The History of Stainless Steel – Celebrating 100 Years, G.P. Thomas explains,
In 1913, Harry Brearley of Sheffield, UK discovered ‘rustless’ steel. Although there had been many prior attempts, Brearley has been credited with inventing the first true stainless steel, which had a 12.8% chromium content.
The Benefits of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is an iron alloy that contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium. As such, you will commonly find stainless steel products listed between 10% and 11% chromium by weight. Without diving any deeper down the chemistry rabbit-hole, the important thing to remember about this amazing alloy is that the benefits are very attractive to restaurant owners. These advantages include:
- Resists corrosion and rust
- Is relatively inexpensive
- It has a natural, attractive luster
- Stainless steel naturally resists staining
- Is low maintenance and easy to clean
This list makes it easy to understand why most foodservice employees smile at the sight of stainless steel in their prep area or kitchen. It saves time and energy both during the busy hours of the day, as well as during evening cleanup. Stainless steel wants to make your life easier after a long day working the prep-line or cleaning hundreds of pieces of flatware at the end of the night. In addition, if you are looking for ways to reduce your company’s carbon footprint, buying stainless steel and then recycling it at the end of its lifecycle can play a significant role!
Don’t throw away your used, damaged and obsolete stainless steel products. Instead, recycle them so the steel can be created into something useful for someone else. You may not change the world overnight, but customers can tell when they are dining somewhere that is proud to make a positive impact on their community and the environment.
We know your time is valuable, and recycling can sometimes add an additional task to your busy day. If you decide to recycle, we have included a great website that helps connect you to a local recycling center here.
Now that you know the benefits stainless steel has to offer, visit us next month as we continue the conversation, discussing how to shop for flatware. We will discuss the various types of stainless steel used in commercial flatware so you can choose the best knives, forks, and spoons for your food service venue.
And don’t forget – please be sure to visit your county health department to ensure you are familiar with any certifications and requirements you’re obliged to follow at your restaurant before purchasing commercial restaurant supplies. For your convenience, check out our article on Food Service Certifications for an explanation on common certifications required by many health departments.