Stainless Steel Defined

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Stainless steel is almost synonymous with modern kitchenware. From appliances and cookware to cutlery, food prep and Masterchef-like utensils, even the kitchen sink, it’s literally everywhere. Ridiculously versatile, this material has become a part of our everyday, loved for its strength and durability. (Only Superman can bend steel in his bare hands.)


From left: Wilkie Brothers Hartford Cutlery Set, Tuffsteel Madeleine 56 Piece Cutlery Set, Maxwell and Williams Sway 100 Piece Cutlery Set, Vera Wang Wedgwood Grosgrain 56 Piece Cutlery Set and Wilkie Brothers Ravelstone Cutlery Set, available online at Zanui.

But 18/0, 18/8, 18/10… What does it all mean?

Stainless steel comes in a variety of grades and surface finishes suited to specific purposes from barwarekitchen knives to food containers and dinnerware. The job of differentiating between them can be (mega) confusing.


From left: Avanti Art Deco Champagne Cooler and Avanti Art Deco Twin Wall Wine Cooler, available online at Zanui

Cracking the cutlery code

The numbers 18/0, 18/8, 18/10 refer to the metal’s composition – more specifically its chromium and nickel content (respectively). Both chromium and nickel contribute stain-resistant qualities. And together they act like a shield against rust. (Chromium alone is not enough.)  

Knife and Carving Sets

From left: Maxwell and Williams Cashmere Enchante Spreader Set of 4, Global Ikasu 7 Piece Knife Block Set, Scanpan 7 Piece Knife Block Set and Baccarat Cuisine Pro 2 Piece Carving Set, available online at Zanui.

But how does it work?*

*Warning: nerdy science speak incoming.

The chromium/nickel content creates a passive film of chromium oxide, blocking both oxygen diffusion at the surface and the spread of corrosion to the metal’s infrastructure. (Okay – I’m no scientist. I did my best…)

Baking and kitchenware

From left: Cake Boss 6 Piece Linzer Cookie Cutter Set, Cake Boss 24 Piece Advanced Decorating Tip Set, Tuffsteel 17 Piece Cookie Press Set, Tuffsteel 12 Piece Mix and Measure Set and Cake Boss Flour Sifter, available online at Zanui.

So… the higher the level of nickel, the greater the rust-resistance and strength.

Appliances and barware

From left: Vitality 4 Life Oscar 900 Cold Press Juicer Chrome, Skybar Chill Drops Set of 2, and Avanti Deluxe Twin Wall Champagne Cooler, available online at Zanui.

Then, 18/10 wins the prize for sturdiest, 18/8 is a little less sturdy (the tines of the fork are a touch easier to bend), 18/0 least durable. Nickel also adds high lustre. So 18/0 works better for casual cutlery for example, 18/10 for fine dining. 😉

Bar accessories

From left: Anolon Corkscrew, Kilner Straining Funnel 12cm, Gentlemen’s Hardware Gentleman Hip Flask, Gentlemen’s Hardware Gentleman Cocktail Shaker and Anolon Bottle Opener, available online at Zanui.

Ta-da! That’s it. Not as complicated as it looks, eh!

Hero image from left: Baccarat Pasta Master Pasta Machine 15cm and Avanti Stainless Steel Ice Cube Set of 4, available online at Zanui.

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.