What is stainless steel and is 304 or 316L better?
What is stainless steel?
Stainless steel is an alloy consisting of mostly iron and a minimum of 11% chromium, plus various other elements, depending on its use. It is the chromium content that gives it its resistance to corrosion.
Is 304 or 316L stainless steel better?
304 is also known as 18/8 stainless steel, as it contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It is the grade most commonly used to make jewelry.
316L is a considerably higher grade, which includes the addition of 2% molybdenum giving it superior resistance to chemicals such as salt, making it more corrosion resistant than 304.
Ironically, most people think surgical steel (304) is the best, but 316L is higher grade!
The 'L' that follows 316 stands for 'Low carbon content', which further improves its resistance to corrosion.
There are actually 150 grades of stainless steel, with 13 of them in common use.
The world's largest producer of stainless steel is China, followed by Asia (excluding China), then Europe, then the Americas.