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New for Spring: Stainless Steel Cookware Sets!

Frequently Asked Questions about Stainless Steel

1. Why is Stainless Steel called "Stainless"?
2. Why should I use Stainless Steel instead of wood or plastic?
3. What are the different types of Stainless Steel?
4. How do I clean Stainless Steel?
5. Can I put Stainless Steel in the Dishwasher?
6. I got food stuck to my Stainless Steel. How do I clean it off?
7. Why are there scratches or streaks after I clean my Stainless Steel?
8. It looks like you have other types of steel on your website. I thought all Stainless Steel was brushed?
9. What is the difference between an undermount sink and a top mount sink?
10. What is the difference between Galvanized Steel and Stainless Steel?
11. What is the No. 4 stainless steel finish?
12. What is the No. 6 stainless steel finish?
13. What is the No. 7 stainless steel finish?
14. What is the No. 8 stainless steel finish?
15. How do I interpret length and width measurements on your site?
16. What does NSF certification or approval mean?
17. What does "gauge" mean?

1. Why is Stainless Steel called "Stainless"?

Stainless steel is virtually rust-proof, making it "stainless." A protective coating of chromium atoms binds with oxygen atoms to form a stable layer only a few atoms thick. This layer catches oxygen atoms which would otherwise bond to the iron in steel, causing rust.

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2. Why should I use Stainless Steel instead of wood or plastic?

Because of its protective coating and scratch resistance, stainless steel has no pores or cracks that can harbor food particles or bacteria. This will help prevent food-borne illnesses, and also makes the surface much easier to clean after use! Stainless steel is also considered a "green" material, since it has a life expectancy of over 75 years, and is completely recyclable at the end of its life.

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3. What are the different types of Stainless Steel?

There are three main types of stainless steel - austenitic, ferritic, and martensitic. These types are defined by their microstructure and crystal phase, and their characteristics make them useful for very different purposes. Austenitic steel, the most common type, contains nickel or manganese in addition to a minimum of 16% chromium. This type of steel cannot be hardened by heat treatment. Ferritic steel's name comes from the Latin "ferrum," meaning "iron," and is so named for its iron and chromium composition. Ferritic steel is less ductile than austenitic steel, but, like austenitic steel, is not hardenable by heat treatment. Finally, martensitic steel is a low carbon steel that can be tempered and hardened, although it is often brittle, so few varieties of this type of steel are fully hardened.

Of these types, the most common sub-categories are Type 304 (austenitic), Type 410 (martensitic), and Type 430 (ferritic). Type 304 is the most widely used, especially in residential and commercial uses. Type 304 Austenitic stainless steel accounts for over half of the stainless steel production and use in the world, and is famed for its extreme corrosion resistance due to high nickel and chromium content. It is also extremely ductile, meaning it can change shape readily without breaking, thus making longer-lasting stainless steel products. And, best of all, type 304 stainless steel can resist nearly all corrosion from extreme temperatures (especially extreme cold), food, chemicals, and weather!

Types 410 and 430 are used in many industrial applications. Type 430 is particularly resistant to extremes in temperature, making it ideal for engine parts, water tanks, and weather-resistant applications. Both Types 430 and 410 have a low nickel content, with strength and resistant properties derived primarily from the chromium content.

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4. How do I clean Stainless Steel?

When cleaning stainless steel, it is important to remember the passive film. Although the film will regenerate itself if damaged, some harsh cleaners, such as bleach or ammonia, can break this film and cause rust spots. Harsh cleaners, as well as some touch scrub brushes, can also leave scratch marks on the surface, which will break the passive film and cause rusting. However, this passive film will regenerate itself with enough oxygen. Although you can put stainless steel pans and utensils in the dishwasher, we recommend washing them by hand.

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5. Can I put Stainless Steel in the Dishwasher?

Most stainless steel is safe to put in the dishwasher; however, if you mix grades of stainless steel, this could cause rust spots to appear. Certain detergents will cause stainless steel to rust, so be sure to use milder detergents for stainless. IF YOU PUT SILVER IN A DISHWASHER WITH STAINLESS STEEL, IT WILL CAUSE THE STAINLESS TO RUST. Follow the care and maintenance instructions that come with your stainless steel and it will last a lifetime!

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6. I got food stuck to my Stainless Steel. How do I clean it off?

If you are cleaning tough or burnt food from stainless steel pans or utensils, try soaking the pan in warm, soapy water. You can also use a nylon scourer to help scrape the material off. To scrape food off a counter top, use a plastic spatula or scraper to scrape the food up - plastic is gentler, so it will help prevent scratches caused by scraping. With tough-to-remove deposits, try using vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or a citrus oil based cleaner. Please do not use more abrasive cleaners, or cleaners containing bleach or ammonia, as this will break the passive film and cause the steel to rust!

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7. Why are there scratches or streaks after I clean my Stainless Steel?

Try using a gentler cleaning product, or cleaning products made specifically for stainless steel.

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8. It looks like you have other types of steel on your website. I thought all Stainless Steel was brushed?

Actually, stainless steel comes in a variety of finishes! It can be smooth, shiny, satin, brushed, and more!

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9. What is the difference between an undermount sink and a top mount sink?

An undermount sink is securely mounted beneath your counter top, while a top mount sink (also called a drop-in sink) mounts from the top of your counter top. Top mount sinks have a lip around the edge that secures the sink above the cut-out, while most undermount sinks do not need the lip because they mount below the counter top.

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10. What is the difference between Galvanized Steel and Stainless Steel?

Galvanized steel has a zinc coating which seals and protects the steel, while stainless has the oxygen-resistant layer of chromium atoms. Galvanized steel is still somewhat rust-resistant and can be used outdoors (although with a shorter lifespan); it will begin to corrode over time, while stainless is much less likely to rust with wear and tear.

Galvanized steel will not have the same polished or brushed finish as stainless steel. It will look darker or rougher. However, it is a cost-effective option in place of stainless steel.

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11. What is the No. 4 stainless steel finish?

This is one of the most common stainless steel finishes available. The finish is created using a 150 grit abrasive, so the finish is brushed and not highly reflective. It is a common finish in sinks because it can withstand a lot of use, and it will not show scratches as easily.

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12. What is the No. 6 stainless steel finish?

This stainless steel finish creates the "satin" steel look, which is a non-directional, even texture, with varying reflectiveness.

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13. What is the No. 7 stainless steel finish?

The No. 7 finish creates a partial mirrored look by buffing of the steel after it goes through the manufacturing process. However, the No. 7 finish is not a true mirror finish.

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14. What is the No. 8 stainless steel finish?

The No. 8 finish is created like the No. 7 finish, but the buffing process is continued with fine buffing compounds, creating a true mirror finish with high clarity.

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15. How do I interpret length and width measurements on your site?

We measure length from left to right, and width from front to back. The bowl depth or overall height of our stainless steel sinks is measured from top to bottom.

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16. What does NSF certification or approval mean?

NSF International is an independent, non-profit certifying agency which sets and enforces standards designed to assure consumer safety and protection. An NSF certification means three things: That the product has been evaluated by the NSF; that the product met or exceeded all relevant NSF standards; and that the NSF will conduct periodic audits of the product as well as the product's manufacturing facilities to ensure continued compliance with NSF standards. NSF-certified sinks are designed and constructed to be easily sanitized and must be constructed with materials that are non-toxic, durable, and corrosion-resistant. NSF-certified stainless steel sinks have rounded interior corners to prevent the buildup of bacteria and debris, and bottoms that slope toward the drain so water won't stagnate.

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17. What does the gauge of a stainless steel mean?

The "gauge" of a stainless steel product refers to the thickness of the sheet metal used to make it. Gauge is represented numerically. For stainless steel, as the gauge number increases, the material thickness decreases. This means a 14 gauge table is thicker than a 16 gauge table.

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