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18/10 stainless steel pan. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Maryia_K

18/10 Stainless Steel: Uses, Composition, Properties

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
October 18, 2023
 9 min read
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18/10 stainless steel is a high-end grade of stainless steel containing 18% chromium and 10% nickel. This composition offers superior mechanical properties with high heat and corrosion resistance but also comes at an increased price. The main use of 18/10 stainless steel is cookware and cutlery due to its corrosion and heat resistance.

This article explores the properties of 18/10 steel and how it compares to other similar grades of steel. 

What Is 18/10 Stainless Steel?

18/10 stainless steel is a corrosion-resistant steel commonly used for cutlery/tableware. The designation 18/10 describes the chromium and nickel composition of the steel. This means that 18/10 steel has 18% chromium and 10% nickel content. However, this composition is open to some variations, as smelters sometimes reduce the percentage of chromium to 16% and add 2% molybdenum. This retains the corrosion resistance while reducing costs. The chemical name for 18/10 stainless steel is X5CrNi18-10.

How Is 18/10 Stainless Steel Made?

18/10 stainless steel is made using a smelting and casting method. Scrap steel is added to an electric arc furnace in which current flows from one carbon electrode to another. The steel resists this current, and in turn, heats up enough to melt. Once melted, the steel is moved to an Argon Oxygen Decarburization (AOD) vessel, in which the low carbon content of stainless steel is obtained. The alloying elements (chromium and nickel) are then added to achieve the chemical composition of 18/10. The steel is then cast into slabs or billets in a continuous casting. 

How Does 18/10 Stainless Steel Differ From 316 Stainless Steel?

Where 18/10 stainless steel has 18% chromium and 10% nickel, 316 stainless steel has 16–18% chromium and 10–14% nickel and 2–3% molybdenum. It is molybdenum that makes 316 more resistant to pitting and general corrosion than 18/10 steel. While both have good and equal heat resistance, 316 stainless steel is slightly more expensive due to the higher alloying content. 316 is only used for applications in which corrosion resistance is absolutely key. 

What Are the Uses of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

There are many uses for 18/10, but by far the most common is cutlery (or flatware). Examples of other uses are listed below:

  1. Pots and pans. 
  2. Utensils. 
  3. Sinks. 
  4. Tubing. 
  5. Nuts, bolts, and washers. 
  6. Brewery equipment. 

Does 18/10 Stainless Steel Leach Into Food?

No, 18/10 stainless steel does not leach into food. 18/10 stainless steel is highly corrosion-resistant due to its alloying elements. This allows 18/10 to be used even with the most corrosive of food, such as vinegar. 

What Is the Chemical Composition of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

As with nearly all steels, the majority of the composition is made up of iron. In the case of 18/10 stainless steel iron makes up 66–71.27% of the composition, with chromium (17.5–19.5%) and nickel (8–10.5%) being the next two most prominent elements. All other alloying elements are listed in Table 1 below: 

Table 1: Chemical Composition of 18/10 Stainless Steel
ElementPercentage composition
Element
Iron
Percentage composition
66.7– 71.27
Element
Chromium
Percentage composition
17.5–19.5
Element
Nickel
Percentage composition
8–10.5
Element
Manganese
Percentage composition
2
Element
Silicon
Percentage composition
1
Element
Nitrogen
Percentage composition
0.1
Element
Carbon
Percentage composition
0.07
Element
Phosphorus
Percentage composition
0.045
Element
Sulfur
Percentage composition
0.015

What Is the Carbon Content of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

18/10 Stainless steel is a low-carbon steel, meaning its carbon content is below 0.3%. 18/10 stainless steel has a carbon content of 0.07%. This low carbon content, as well as high levels of chromium and nickel, allow the steel to be highly corrosion resistant. 

What Are the Properties of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

Table 2 below shows some of the basic properties of 18/10 stainless steel: 

Table 2: Physical Properties of 18/10 Stainless Steel
PropertyValue
Property
Density
Value
7.9 g/cm^3
Property
Yield strength
Value
200 MPa
Property
Hardness (Rockwell B)
Value
75
Property
Magnetism
Value
Non-magnetic

What Is the Machinability Rating of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

18/10 has the ability to be easily molded and machined. 18/10 steel has a fair machinability rating of 48%. 

What Are the Characteristics of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

There are a few notable characteristics of 18/10 stainless steel, the most important of which is its corrosion resistance. 18/10 steel is highly corrosion resistant due to its high chromium and nickel content. Some other characteristics of 18/10 steel are: 

  1. Easy to mold, and so is used whenever complex geometry is required in cutlery and utensils. 
  2. Highly heat resistant, which means it will not deform in a hot environment. 
  3. Non-porous—therefore easy to clean because there is nowhere for bacteria to take hold of the surface of the material. 

Is 18/10 Stainless Steel Magnetic?

No, 18/10 is not considered magnetic. Although most steel is ferromagnetic, 18/10 is part of the austenitic family of steel and is therefore non-magnetic. Any cookware made of 18/10 stainless steel is only magnetic because it is made of a ply construction of aluminum sandwiched by two layers of 18/10. This allows 18/10 steel cookware to be used on induction hobs. 

Does 18/10 Stainless Steel Rust?

No, 18/10 steel does not rust. The low carbon content, and high chromium and nickel content mean that 18/10 stainless steel is highly corrosion resistant. 

What Are the Thermal Properties of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

The thermal properties of 18/10 stainless steel are listed in Table 3 below:

Table 3: Thermal Properties of 18/10 Stainless Steel
Thermal PropertyValue
Thermal Property
Melting point
Value
1,400–1,455 °C
Thermal Property
Rate of thermal expansion at 20 °C
Value
16.5 x 10^-6 mm/m/°C
Thermal Property
Thermal conductivity
Value
15 W/m.K

What Are the Common Forms of 18/10 Stainless Steel Material?

There is a range of forms in which 18/10 stainless steel is supplied. Below are some examples:

Sheet or Plate

Flat and thin sections of 18/10 stainless steel which are either bent into shape or used for countertops and kitchen panels. 

Bar 

The bar form of 18/10 stainless steel comes in round, rectangular, square, and hexagonal cross-sections. Bars can be used for fasteners such as: bolts, screws, and rivets. 

Forged

Forged 18/10 steel is created using the forging process which increases the strength and durability of the material. Forged 18/10 can be used in the oil & gas industry for pipelines. 

What Are the Equivalents of 18/10 Stainless Steel?

18/10 has different names in different countries. Table 4 below displays the equivalent names for the different countries:

Table 4: Equivalent Names for 18/10 Stainless Steel
CountryName
Country
EU
Name
X5CrNi18-10
Country
USA
Name
304
Country
Germany
Name
X5CrNi18-9
Country
Japan
Name
SUS304
Country
France
Name
X5CrNi18-10
Country
England
Name
X5CrNi18-10
Country
Italy
Name
X5CrNi18-10
Country
Russia
Name
08KH18N10
Country
China
Name
0Cr18Ni9

What Are the Advantages of Using 18/10 Stainless Steel?

There are many reasons why 18/10 stainless steel may be chosen over 18/8 or 18/0 stainless steel. These are:

  1. Superior corrosion resistance.
  2. High-quality surface finish. 
  3. Easy to maintain. 
  4. High heat resistance. 
  5. Resistant to pitting. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Using 18/10 Stainless Steel?

The disadvantages of using 18/10 stainless steel include:

  1. High cost due to the higher alloying content compared to other stainless steels.
  2. Prone to scratching. 
  3. Non-magnetic. 
  4. Requires special tools to machine. 
  5. Vulnerable to saltwater corrosion. 

Does 18/10 Stainless Steel Contain Lead?

No, 18/10 stainless steel does not contain lead. 18/10 stainless steel is mainly composed of iron, but also has high amounts of chromium and nickel. The lack of lead in 18/10 stainless steel means it is safe for use in cookware and utensils. 

Is 18/10 Stainless Steel Expensive?

Yes, 18/10 stainless steel is relatively expensive when compared to 18/8 and 18/0. This is because 18/10 stainless steel has a higher percentage of expensive alloying elements compared to 18/8 and 18/0. One cheaper alternative to 18/10 stainless steel is 18/8 stainless steel which has less nickel; this “shortfall” is replaced by 2% molybdenum which retains the metal's corrosion resistance while lowering the price. 

Is 18/10 Stainless Steel Considered Toxic?

No, 18/10 steel is non-toxic. This is because 18/10 does not contain any highly toxic elements. It is also highly corrosion-resistant meaning that it does not leave any contamination behind. 

Is 18/10 Stainless Steel Good Quality?

Yes, 18/10 is a good quality steel. 18/10 steel is often discussed in comparison to 18/8, 18/0, and 13/0, as these are the other grades of stainless steel often used for cutlery and cookware. 18/10 is regarded as the best of these grades of steel as it has the highest nickel content, and so it has the best physical properties. 

Is 18/10 Stainless Steel Better Than 304 Stainless Steel?

Yes, 18/10 is regarded as better than 304 stainless steel, but only slightly. The difference between the two is that 18/10 has 10% nickel and 304 has 8% nickel. This not only means that 18/10 stainless steel has better corrosion resistance but also that it holds a better shine. However, also due to the higher composition of alloying elements, 18/10 stainless steel is more prone to scratching and is more expensive. 

What Is the Difference Between 18/10 Stainless Steel and 18/8 Stainless Steel?

The difference between 18/10 and 18/8 stainless steel is that 18/10 stainless steel has 10% nickel and 18/8 has 8% nickel. The reduction in nickel means that 18/8 is both cheaper but also less corrosion-resistant. In addition, 18/10 stainless steel holds a better surface finish and so is used in more high-end applications than 18/8. 

What Is the Difference Between 18/10 Stainless Steel and 18/0 Stainless Steel?

The main difference between 18/10 stainless steel and 18/0 stainless steel is the differing degrees of nickel composition. 18/10 stainless steel contains 10% nickel while 18/0 stainless steel contains 0% nickel. The differing amounts of nickel and chrome affect the strength of the stainless steel and its anti-corrosive properties. Another difference between the two stainless steels is that 18/10 stainless steel is highly anti-corrosive, whilst 18/0 stainless steel is more vulnerable to corrosion. However, 18/10 stainless steel is a lot more expensive than 18/0 stainless steel. 

Summary

This article presented 18/10 stainless steel, explained it, and discussed its various applications and composition. To learn more about 18/10 stainless steel, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.