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Stainless steel is certainly one of the most widely used materials when it comes to making various kitchen items. From pots and pans to kitchen appliances, you can find stainless steel almost anywhere. Flatware, various utensils, mixing bowls… you name it. If it’s made to be used in the kitchen, there is a good chance it exists in stainless steel.
See our review of the best stainless steel cookware sets here.
There are many good reasons for the widespread use of stainless steel. It’s one of the safest materials to use when it comes to cookware, and it’s virtually indestructible. However, non-stick cookware is also quite popular and there are various other options to choose from, such as copper, aluminum, or cast iron cookware. There are so many options that it might be hard to choose the right cookware for your kitchen. In this article, we will dig into the details and explore the benefits of stainless steel cookware.
Table of Contents
Stainless Steel Cookware Facts:
What Exactly is Stainless Steel?
Iron is the basic component of steel, but steel is actually an alloy comprised of iron, carbon, and various other elements which makes it one of the hardest and most impact-resistant materials commonly available. However, there is one big problem with steel when it comes to kitchen use – it rusts in contact with water. Enter stainless steel!
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron with chromium which makes this material rust-resistant. Chromium basically creates a thin layer on the surface of the steel which prevents any further corrosion. Stainless steel can also contain varying amounts of Carbon, Manganese, Silicon, Nickel, and Molybdenum.
So how do you know what exactly goes into a piece of stainless steel cookware? Stainless steel comes in various grades. The grade is the number that tells you the exact components of a certain piece of stainless steel. You’ll usually see it stamped on the cookware. Grade 304 is by far the most common in cookware. If you see the numbers 18/8 or 18/10, this means the stainless steel is Grade 304. The first number represents the percentage of chromium in the alloy (18%), and the second number represents the percentage of nickel (8% or 10%). Grade 304 stainless steel is perfectly safe for cooking.
Also see how to use stainless steel.
Surgical Steel Cookware Benefits
Grade 316 stainless steel is known as surgical stainless steel or marine stainless steel. It’s also used for cookware in many cases. So what exactly is the difference? Surgical stainless steel contains a small amount of molybdenum or titanium. Surgical steel cookware benefits include an even higher resistance to rust and corrosion than 304 stainless steel. After all, it is used for biomedical implants and marine environments since it’s virtually indestructible. Surgical stainless steel cookware is usually also more expensive, but you can rest assured that you are getting the highest possible quality with this type of cookware.
Top 5 best stainless steel cookware sets reviewed
10 Benefits of Stainless Steel Cookware
We have explained what exactly stainless steel is and you’re probably starting to understand why it’s probably the best material to have around in your kitchen. Now, let’s go over the benefits of stainless steel cookware:
First and foremost, stainless steel cookware is virtually indestructible! Just like with anything else, there are differences in quality, but a good piece of stainless steel cookware will last for many years without any changes. It will not chip, bend, or warp under any circumstances. Non-stick and aluminum cookware might be useful for some applications, but the coating always starts chipping off with use. On the other hand, ceramic and glass cookware is quite durable, but also prone to braking. This will never happen with stainless steel cookware! If you are looking for something that you can use every day for many years to come, stainless steel is certainly the right choice.
2. Easy Cleaning and Maintenance
Non-stick cookware might seem easier to clean, but if you burn something, good luck cleaning it off without damaging the surface. While stainless steel cookware doesn’t have a non-stick coating, it offers a smooth and non-porous surface which results in reasonably easy cleaning. And if some food sticks to the bottom, you can scrub as much as you want without worrying about damaging the surface. You can also soak your stainless steel cookware in water for easier cleaning without worrying about damage. Finally, stainless steel cookware is generally dishwasher safe. However, you should be careful about this sine some manufacturers don’t recommend washing their stainless steel cookware in the dishwasher.
Even if you get tough burnt stains on your stainless steel pot or pan, it can be cleaned with a simple trick. Just put some water in the pan, put it on the stovetop and let it boil for 15 to 20 minutes. This should loosen the burnt food and make cleaning much easier!
See our article on cleaning stainless steel cookware here.
3. The Taste Of Your Food Will Remain Unchanged
Unlike some other types of cookware, stainless steel cookware will not have any kind of impact on the taste or the nutritional value of your food. You might think that this is nothing special, but cookware made of materials such as cast iron and copper can actually make your food taste metallic. With stainless steel cookware, the taste of your food will remain intact, just as it should be.
4. Health Benefits of Stainless Steel Cookware
Not only can the type of cookware you use change the taste of your food, but some types of cookware can also make your food practically poisonous. Non-stick coatings such as Teflon have been connected to various conditions such as the “teflon flu”, abnormal thyroid functioning and even cancer. Non-stick cookware is usually fine to use if it’s not damaged, but it gets scratched really easily and if this happens you get particles of your pots into your food. Doesn’t sound good, right? Copper and cast iron cookware can also release unwanted chemicals into your food in some cases.
On the other hand, stainless steel cookware is absolutely safe for your health. See our article ‘is stainless steel cookware safe?’ here.
5. No Dangerous Toxins
We are not always aware of this, but various dangerous toxins are actually quite common in different types of cookware. For example, aluminum cookware can be quite attractive because of the affordable prices. However, aluminum is highly reactive and it’s a known neurotoxin! Furthermore, various non-stick coatings (including Teflon) contain chemicals that have been linked with some very unpleasant side effects. Luckily, stainless steel is aluminum-free, PTOE, PFOA, and BPA-free. This is certainly the most important health benefit of stainless steel.
6. Even Heat Transfer
Stainless steel itself is actually not the world’s best heat conductor. However, stainless steel cookware often includes one or more layers of aluminum or copper inside the stainless steel exterior. This way, the interior that comes in contact with the food is made entirely of stainless steel, but the piece of cookware also gets the heat transfer benefits of aluminum or copper. This results in fast and even heating across the cooking surface.
7. Stainless Steel Cookware is Perfect for Cooking at High Temperatures
Many styles of cooking, like searing and sauteing, often require cooking at very high temperatures. However, not all cookware can sustain that much heat. Luckily, stainless steel cookware can sustain extremely high temperature without warping.
8. Stainless Steel Cookware Looks Amazing
Stainless steel cookware doesn’t come in a range of crazy colors, but the elegant, timeless look of stainless steel easily fits into literally any kitchen. The best of all, it will look great even after many years, unlike non-stick or enamel cookware.
9. Stainless Steel Is Recyclable
We have some good news for those of you who care about the environment. Stainless steel is recyclable! This may take a bit of effort, but it’s definitely possible to recycle stainless steel cookware.
10. Value For Money
Stainless steel cookware is certainly not the cheapest option you can find and surgical stainless steel pots can be even more expensive. However, a stainless steel pot will last many times longer than a piece of non-stick or aluminum cookware. In many cases, it will literally last a lifetime so it’s fair to consider it a one-time purchase.
Everyone should have at least one good piece of stainless steel cookware in their kitchen. Stainless steel pots and pans are incredibly useful and versatile. You can use them for almost anything, whether you want to saute some veggies or let a broth simmer for a couple of hours. They also work well for frying and boiling.
Moreover, stainless steel cookware is durable, rust-resistant, and free of any harmful chemicals. So how do you choose the right stainless steel cookware? Grade 304 stainless steel works well for everyday kitchen use, but if you want the highest quality you might want to go with surgical steel cookware. You should also consider the sizes and the shapes to make sure they fit your individual needs. In any case, investing in a set of stainless steel cookware is a decision you will surely not regret!