What Is the Difference Between Chrome and Stainless Steel?

The difference between chrome and stainless steel is that stainless steel is typically made out of a metal alloy without plating (it does contain either nickel or chromium to make it durable), while chrome is made out of a metal core that is plated with a thin chromium overlay. Chrome and stainless steel are both popular choices in hardware and kitchen appliances.

Chrome has a polished surface that is shiny and reflects light much like a mirror. However, satin chrome or brushed chrome has a more matte surface. Chrome can be difficult to clean because of its shine and will easily show fingerprints or scratches.

Stainless steel is corrosion resistant, scratch resistant and tarnish resistant. It is considered ultra durable. In all stainless steel there is a chrome-nickel content, which refers to the amount of chrome and nickel present in the stainless steel. This content varies depending on the type of stainless steel.

There are three different classes of stainless steel that can be purchased: austenitic, martensitic and ferritic. Austenitic is a chromium-nickel-iron alloy with 16 to 26 percent chromium, 6 to 22 percent nickel and a low carbon contact. Martensitic is a chromium-iron alloy with 10.5 to 17 percent chromium with some carbon content that is hardened. Ferritic is a chromium-iron alloy with 17 to 27 percent chromium and a low carbon content. Ferritic also has magnetic properties, which can make it useful in the kitchen. Most cooking utensils are made out of this ferritic type of stainless steel.