Flatware made of stainless steel is not all created equal. Dinner knives, forks, and spoons typically have a numerical identification listed on the flatware package, which may at first seem perplexing to you. The terms 18/10, 18/0, 18/0, or 13/0 simply denote the amounts of nickel and chromium in the stainless steel alloy. Since larger percentages of nickel are typically considered to be superior, these values also provide a reliable approach to evaluate the flatware’s quality. Thus, it is generally agreed upon that 18/10 flatware is of the highest caliber.
The quality of the flatware you are purchasing may thus be determined by understanding the stainless steel grade.
The Composition of Stainless Steel
In order to increase look and performance, the stainless steel used in flatware is an alloy—a mixture of different types of steel and other metals. In the case of the stainless steel used to make flatware, nickel is added to the mixture to give it a silver-like gloss and some extra rust resistance while chromium is added to the mixture to create an alloy with strong rust resistance. Typically, the grade of the stainless steel alloy increases with the proportion of each new metal.
The percentages of each additional metal in the alloy are represented by the figures in the product specification: For instance, 18/10 stainless steel has a chromium content of 18%, a nickel content of 10%, and a steel content of 72%. Everyday stainless steel flatware is simple to maintain and, for the most part, has some resistance to pitting or corrosion thanks to the alloy composition. These variations in specifications are occasionally stated on the box, but they frequently go unnoticed—especially when producers seek to conceal the use of a subpar alloy.
Contrary to popular belief, there is less of a difference between 18/10 and 18/8 stainless steel. This is due to the fact that Grade 304 stainless steel, which is generally purchased by manufacturers, contains a nickel percentage of 8.2 percent, which is allowed to be labeled as 18/10 by law. Because of this, 18/10 flatware often only contains 8.2–8.3 percent nickel—barely more than 18/8 stainless steel. Cutlery marked 18/10 and 18/8 both include high-quality stainless steel alloys, however flatware marked 18/0 or 13/0 won’t last as long or be as resistant to glossy stains.