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Surgical Stainless Steel Cookware
304 vs 316

 

 
 
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Some waterless cookware companies in an effort to try and distinguish themselves from their competition promote the fact that they use 316 surgical stainless steel rather than 304 surgical stainless steel. In the chart below is a direct comparison between 304 and 316 surgical stainless steel.

 

 
304
316
Carbon
0.08% max.
0.08% max.
Chromium
18.0 to 20.0%
16.0 to 18.0%
Manganese
2.0% max.
2.0% max.
Silicon
1.0% max.
1.0% max.
Nickel
8.0 to 10.5%
10.0 to 14.0%
Molybdenum
2.0 to 3.0%
Tensile Strength (Ksi)
84-185
84-185
Yield Strength (Ksi)
42-140
42-140

Summary of differences:

 

1. 304 may have a higher Chromium content than 316 but not necessarily.

 

2. 316 may have a higher Nickel content but not necessarily.

 

3. 316 has 2-3% Molybdenum and 304 does not.

 

What does this show for the reason to purchase cookware with 316 surgical stainless steel rather than 304 surgical stainless steel? Absolutely nothing! You cannot see a difference when comparing side by side. You cannot taste a difference in food cooked in one over the other. 316 does not cook food any better than 304.

 

What is 316 better for than 304? 316 is preferred over 304 for marine hardware where it is exposed to extreme harsh sea salt conditions 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It lasts longer than 304 in this application.

 

Anywhere where there is exposure to concentrated sodium chloride conditions 316 is preferred over 304. If you are going to put 1 cup of sodium chloride (table salt) in your cookware with 4 oz. of water on a daily basis you may benefit from using 316 over 304 but even 316 under these conditions would pit over time.

 

We have established over 500,000 clients over the last 45 years with 304-T surgical steel cookware and have had no problems to date.

 

Instead of Molybdenum, our cookware uses Titanium as a hardening alloy. Titanium is about six times as expensive as stainless steel.

 

Originally designed to produce strong lightweight alloys for aerospace, the two most useful properties of the metal form are corrosion resistance and the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal. Stronger than steel but 45% lighter.

 

Q: Is there a distinguishable difference in 304 vs 316 surgical stainless steel?

A: Yes, 316 surgical stainless steel cookware costs more to manufacture.

 

 

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