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What Is 1810 Stainless Steel Cookware?

If you've recently been shopping for cookware, you may have seen some labeled as "18/10 stainless steel cookware." For most of us, these numbers don't mean anything unless we've done our homework about stainless steel. If you want to know what these mysterious numbers mean, you've come to the right place.

Stainless steel is a popular choice for kitchen cookware because it has a smooth surface, foods don't easily stick to it and it resists corrosion. It also is attractive with its silvery gleam and ease of cleaning. Stainless steel is versatile and can be used in the oven as well as on the stove top. But the reason for those mysterious numbers lies within the steel itself.

Stainless steel is an alloy of metals. The mixture is based on iron, with several other metals added in. If you've ever cooked with cast iron cookware, you know that without proper seasoning, the pan will rust.

Not so with stainless steel, this is how it gets its name, coincidentally. Stainless steel is "stainless" because it resists rust and staining from cooking. The reason it resists these destructive things happening is due to the mix of metals in the alloy.

The Makings of Stainless Steel

The two metals we are most concerned with today are chromium and nickel. These two metals are added to the steel to add durability and resistance to rust and corrosion. Chromium contains a chemical that will react with elements found in the air to form a layer of protection over the entire surface. This layer helps the pan resist corrosion, stains and rust.

To be labeled stainless steel, the alloy must contain a minimum of 11% chromium. Values higher than 11% means that the protective layer will be thicker and will repair itself more swiftly if it is damaged. The number 18 refers to the chromium content, so an 18/10 pan will contain 18% chromium. This cookware will be more resistant to corrosion and staining than cookware with 11% chromium.

The second number refers to the percentage of nickel in the cookware. Nickel adds to chromium's protective layer and makes the cookware shinier. That famous mirror finish on some stainless steel cookware is due to a fair amount of nickel being added.

Nickel is not added to other stainless steel items like mixing bowls, low-end stainless steel cookware, stockpots and other accessories, which is why you'll see they are not as shiny or rust resistant as cookware. These items would be labeled 18/0. You may see stainless steel cookware that is labeled 18/8, and while this indicates a high quality, the best quality can only be found as 18/10 stainless steel cookware.

If you are not certain whether a pan contains nickel or not, there is an easy test you can perform. Get a magnet and see if it is attracted to the pan. If it is, there is no nickel in the alloy. If it does not stick to the pan, nickel has been added. Nickel neutralizes the natural ferrous properties of iron.

Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?

There has been some question whether stainless steel is safe to use due to the content of chromium and nickel. While these two elements are poisonous at high levels, the amount that may seep into food being cooked in the pan is very minute, and chromium is actually beneficial to our health in very small amounts.

In order to get so much chromium in your system that it causes a problem, you'd have to cook four complete meals per day in your stainless steel cookware. Nickel is also dangerous in large quantities, but the trace amount that leaches into food during cooking is perfectly safe unless you have an established allergy to nickel. In that event, you would want to choose another type of cookware.

Now that you know what 18/10 stainless steel cookware is, you'll be able to make a good choice for your kitchen. This high quality cookware is easy to care for and lends style and professionalism to your kitchen.

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