Difference between stainless steel and steel

Do you want to know the difference between stainless steel and steel?

Here are the details through which you can differentiate between the two

Difference between stainless steel and steel


Stainless steel and steel are metal alloys, which is the combination of metals and other elements. Both are the metal alloy of iron and different elements is been added to iron in order to acquire diverse properties.

These both are genuine metal useful in a wide product range from significant application to an extremely small parts.

Below are the given details to elaborate the differences

  1. Steel’s affordability makes it an ideal choice for many projects. On the other hand, SS is more expensive but has bright finish and non-reactive
  • SS and steel are not replaceable as their advantages and properties are different. So before selecting one alloy it is important to identify what metal is to be used and then understand the differences in properties, aesthetics & chemical composition.
  • Properties

Steel has magnetic properties and is organized into three general types based on its carbon content i.e. low, medium, or high carbon. Steel has high thermal conductivity, and hence it has better distribution of heat.

SS is generally nonmagnetic along with some exceptions. It has more hardening properties compared to steel which makes it less ductile with low thermal conductivity and heat distribution.

  • Aesthetics

SS is more luxurious metal with a natural shine and it gives a glossy shine look.

Steel has a more matte finish with a bit duller shine.

  • Chemical composition

Steel is produced by adding iron to carbon, which hardens the iron. Different contamination like manganese, phosphorous, sulfur and silicon are removed from iron while the process of steel production. Steels usually has low carbon element than stainless steel which makes it slightly stiffer and stronger.

Stainless steel production goes through the same procedure as steel production, but takes it a step further by adding chromium, nickel, nitrogen, and molybdenum. The chromium is an essential element to make SS, and to qualify as stainless steel it must be at least 10.5%, it plays a significant role in protecting the metal, as it reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere to create a passive surface layer. This passive layer protects the metal from getting rust and stimulates self-healing should small abrasions occur.

  • Maintenance and self-healing properties

SS requires minimal maintenance due to the passive layer. However, it’s not certainly immune to stain and stainless steel can rust. That said, it can undergo more exploit for a longer time. It even has unique self-healing abilities. The chromium in stainless steel forms a self-healing layer of oxide which responds with water and oxygen in the atmosphere. This stop rusting, even in wet environments. The higher the chromium element, the more protection will be against corrosion. When it comes to maintenance, regular maintenance and powder-coated finishes is suggested. A gentle soap or a soft nylon brush can be used to remove any gathered dirt.

  • Corrosion Resistance

SS is highly corrosion to resistant but it can rust in certain conditions. Although not as easily as standard steel. Its protection against corrosion is mainly dependent on the ratio of chromium present. If there is not sufficient amount of chromium near the exterior of stainless steel, a new oxide layer of chromium cannot be formed when the top coating is removed away. This makes it very vulnerable to various corrosion.

Steel has a definitive corrosion resistance which is known as passivity which is because of the invisible and thin layer of oxides being formed on the surface. This process takes place by the reaction between the metal and the oxygen in the surrounding of environment.

Based on the result, SS has a strong and hardness properties from corrosion. Steel has loss many weight from corrosion because it is not coated from any material. But, stainless steel is a steel alloy coated with a minimum chromium content of 10.5% by mass. And the corrosion of steel is happened so quickly compared to SS.