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What Makes Stainless Commercial Kitchen Equipment, Stainless

How do I clean my stainless steel commercial kitchen equipment? In ALFA’s 77 years we’ve been asked this thousands of times. Here’s our answer..

Part 1: What makes stainless steel, “stainless”? Can stainless rust?

We hear these questions frequently. Too often restaurant equipment care guides aren’t complete when it comes to cleaning instructions. As a result, you could make expensive, preventable mistakes! We see it from time to time and that’s why the team over at ALFA International is tackling this issue in a multi part blog series.

In part one we’ll explain what stainless steel is–how its made and what can make it rust. More importantly, our second edition, we’ll share with you how to clean stainless steel equipment to avoid rust on your tried and true Hobart mixer bowl or Bizerba slicer blade,etc.

#1:Stainless Steel can rust if not cared for properly!

Rust. We all can recognize it on iron and steel as the unsightly yellow/orange variety. But why does it form?The answer is that metals like iron “actively corrode in a natural environment. This corrosion is why steel and iron are referred to as “active” metals. Corrosion is what leads to rust.

#2:There many, many types of stainless steel!

Stainless steel comes in many different varieties or “series”. Each “series” has different properties that make it best suited for a specific job. For example, 400 series stainless steels contain chromium, and are magnetic. 300 series stainless steels contain chromium and nickel. 200 series stainless contains manganese, nitrogen and carbon. Many of ALFA’s products are made of 300 series stainless steel, because we’ve found over our 77 years that 300 series stainless performs fantastically in commercial kitchens. Superior performance and quality is why ALFA specs 300 series for our Hobart “Classic” mixer bowls, and Hobart,Globe, Bizerba, Berkel slicer blades.

#3 Why are stainless steels, stainless?

Stainless steel contains other metals, like chromium, nickel and manganese that stabilize the iron in the formula. Combining the metals makes stainless steel resistant to corrosion in a natural environment. This is referred to as “passivating” the steel. When steel is made of 12-30 percent chromium–like  ALFA typically uses–it creates an invisible layer on the steel’s surface that shields it from corrosion. Steel with this “passive” layer is called Stain-less.

#4 So what causes stainless steel to rust?

As long as the passive layer coating stainless is intact, the steel remains stainless. Breaking through this coating layer, by using the wrong cleaning methods or agents, is what can lead stainless steel to rust.

Don’t forget to read Part 2: How should I  clean my stainless steel restaurant equipment? How can I prevent rust?