Stainless steel is one of the strongest, most reliable construction materials used today. Unfortunately, after long periods of wear and tear, it doesn't remain so stainless.
Corrosion and rusting can happen to any material. Including 316 stainless steel. But, even though it can corrode and rust, that doesn't mean stainless steel is a poor option. It just needs proper maintenance. Fortunately for you, that's exactly what we're going to discuss in this article.
We're going to cover all things 316 stainless steel. We'll talk about what it is and why it's a suitable option for a wide variety of projects. You're also going to learn how to properly maintain 316 stainless steel to prevent corrosion and rusting.
By the time you're done reading, you'll be your local shop's 316 stainless steel expert. But, we have a lot of information to cover to get you there.
So read on with us. Get your pad and pencil ready because your introductory class to 316 stainless steel is now in session!
What Makes Steel Stainless?
Before we get into the 316 stainless steel properties, let's talk briefly about what makes steel stainless.
You can classify particular steel as stainless when it contains at least 10.5% chromium. The purpose of the chromium is to give the steel its shiny, "chrome-like" finish and also prevent corrosion. This is one of the main benefits of stainless steel.
Stainless steel's anti-corrosion properties make it the ideal candidate for long-term projects. Any application that will face the elements, moisture, or harmful chemicals would be a good fit for stainless steel. It's also popular in sensitive industries like pharmaceuticals or food preparation.
Different grades of stainless steel also contain traces of different elements. This is obvious to see when you compare 304 vs 316 stainless steel.
304 stainless steel contains trace elements of nickel. 304 stainless steel can contain up to 35% nickel. 316 stainless steel, on the other hand, contains an element called molybdenum.
The nickel in 304 stainless steel makes it great for appliances and cookware. The molybdenum in 316 stainless steel also makes it great for its particular applications, as well. Let's get into those now.
What Is 316 Stainless Steel?
As we mentioned above, 316 stainless steel is a stainless steel variant that contains molybdenum. This molybdenum makes 316 stainless steel the perfect option for marine applications. But, 316 marine grade stainless steel can also be used in other applications like lighting.
Officially, stainless steel contains 2% molybdenum, 10% nickel, and 16% chromium. Because 316 contains more nickel and chromium, it can be a little bit more expensive than standard stainless steel varieties. The extra money is worth it, though, because 316 steel stands up better to corrosion than other standard varieties.
Its internal composition also gives 316 stainless steel the ability to withstand higher temperatures. It also has higher tensile strength than other stainless steel variants.
Benefits of Using 316 Stainless Steel
Because of the higher concentration of pure elements like nickel and chromium, 316 stainless steel can handle things other steels can't. This is why certain industries are ok with spending a little extra money on batches of 316 steel to take advantage of those benefits.
Let's get into some more detail about some of the advantages of 316 stainless steel.
316 stainless steel stands up to corrosion better than 304 and its other counterparts. It even stands up to corrosion from some very harsh chemicals. This allows it to be used in highly acidic or caustic environments that would eat other metals away.
This is why 316 stainless steel is popular in pharmaceutical and medical applications. Both pharmaceutical and medical facilities need to remain extremely sterile. 316 stainless steel can handle the strong cleaning chemicals and high temperatures used in medical sterilisation procedures.
Seawater and salt air can be some of the most damaging elements for stainless steel. Salt can be responsible for eating away even the toughest-grade metals. If you choose to use 304 stainless steel in marine applications, the salt can peel away the oxide layer and ruin the structural integrity.
316 is your best option for applications near the water. It has better resistance to chloride and salt pitting. This makes 316 a superior choice for naval applications and projects with outdoor lighting and electricity.
316 Stainless steel is tough and versatile. It can be used for a variety of applications that need to stand up to tough impacts and elements. Even under harsh conditions, projects made with 316 steel can last for years to come.
316 Stainless Steel Maintenance
We already know that 316 stainless steel can last a long time on its own. But, maintaining it properly is the best way to get the longest shelf life out of it.
The chromium in 316 steel creates a film on the surface that protects the metal from harsh conditions. This film can be damaged by scratching or other outside sources. One of the first signs of this process is surface rust.
Surface rust isn't a problem. It can be removed rather easily. And that's the first step of maintaining 316 steel. Keep the steel surface clear of any surface rust.
Another thing you want to look out for is "tea staining". This can be caused over time by the chromium in your 316-grade steel. Many people mistake this for corrosion, but it's only a surface-level discolouration.
The solution for tea staining is the application of a metal protector or lubricant. Our team at The Lighting Outlet can provide you with the proper materials in our stainless steel maintenance kit. You also may want to create a smoother steel surface to prevent further tea staining from occurring.
In addition to the above protections, you can wash 316 stainless steel with mild soap and water. This will keep your stainless steel in tip-top shape for a long time to come.
The easy use and cleaning of 316 Marine Grade stainless steel makes it a great product to use in your home. Let's take a look at some of the most popular uses
Whether your lights are indoors or outdoors, 316 marine grade stainless can make them better. Using the 316 steel allows for easy cleaning of any light fixture. It can also withstand the elements better than its 304-grade counterpart.
This makes 316 stainless steel the perfect choice for patio and garden lighting.
Outdoor handrails can also benefit from the use of 316. No more corrosion and rust on handrails in public places or your deck at home. Easily clean away corrosion thanks to the chromium film on your 316 steel.
Viola! Your handrail is as good as new.
Sick of your high-dollar grill getting nasty and pitted? Well, if you opt for a grill made from 316 stainless steel, those problems become a thing of the past. Easily clean away rust and pitting. If the top of your grill is made of stainless, even better. You can quickly and efficiently clean your cooktop with mild soapy water.
In a mere matter of seconds, your grill will be looking good as new!
Keep Your Steel Stainless
Now, you know everything you need to know about 316 stainless steel. We hope your question of "what is 316 stainless steel" is answered. You can also take away some tips on how to keep your 316 stainless steel truly stainless.
If you're looking to use 316 stainless steel in your next lighting project, contact The Lighting Outlet today. Our professional staff is here to help you with anything you need.