Modern stainless steel contains nickel along with other elements, such as molybdenum, niobium and chromium, that help the metal resist corrosion. Nickel is merely one of the key elements that adds to the rust-resistance of steel.Continue Reading
When English metallurgist Harry Brearley first added chromium to low-carbon steel in the early 20th century, he discovered the metal became more stain resistant and avoided rust and corrosion at a better rate than steel alone. Over time, elements like nickel and molybdenum were added along with chromium to increase rust-resistance.
Nickel is a silvery white metal that occurs naturally in minerals, including the earth's core. Its slow oxidation rate makes it particularly resistant to corrosion, and it is very viable as a commercial manufacturing component. However, it is not the primary element that enhances the corrosion resistance of stainless steel. That honor goes to chromium.
Chromium is actually the element that gives stainless steel its greatest boost for avoiding rust and corrosion. The chromium combines with oxygen to form a thin, neatly packed layer of oxides that recover quickly if cut or scratched. In contrast, regular steel has a very loose layer that stains and flakes easily when the surface is damaged.
The three main types of stainless steel are austenitic, ferritic and martensitic. The austenitic type contains nickel along with chromium and sometimes manganese and nitrogen. Heat treatment does not harden this type of stainless steel, and it remains pliable. As a result, it is the type processed into common household kitchen appliances, such as refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers.Learn more about Chemistry
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.Full Answer >
Stainless steel is available in many different alloys that incorporate several different elements, but the essential components are iron, carbon and chromium. Low-carbon steel with at least 12-percent chromium forms an even layer of protective oxide on its surface and is, therefore, stainless.Full Answer >
Iron can be prevented from rusting by covering the surface with paint, oil or grease or by using a process called electroplating to apply a thin layer of non-reactive metal, such as copper, nickel or chromium. This is known as barrier protection and helps to prevent rusting by stopping oxygen and moisture from having contact with the surface of the iron.Full Answer >
Stainless steel is a special form of steel that is made of chromium added to steel. Regular steel is an alloy that is made of both iron and carbon. There are different types of stainless steel depending on how much chromium is added and if there are any other elements added in small amounts like nickel.Full Answer >