Understanding stainless steel can be difficult. There’s numbers, gauges, sizes, types, and specific terms to learn. In the food service industry, chances are you will come across all these things when purchasing and using various types of equipment. This brief guide is meant to give you an overview of stainless steel as well as some of the key terms that are useful to learn.
Gauge: This refers to the thickness of the stainless steel. Generally speaking, the lower the gauge, the thicker and stronger the stainless steel. For example, 14 gauge stainless steel is stronger than 18 gauge.
Alloy: Alloy is a substance that is comprised of 2 or more metals. In the stainless steel world, the term alloy is often interchanged with “type” and “grade.” Fun fact: to test the quality of stainless steel, use a magnet. The better the quality, the less magnetic it is. Common examples of stainless steel types are 304 and 430. Type 304 stainless steel is one of the most commonly used types of stainless steel. It is non magnetic and has excellent corrosion resistance. Type 430 has decent corrosion resistance but is more commonly used in areas that see less corrosive elements (meaning a limited number of acidic liquids, etc.).
Worktables: A common piece of equipment that utilizes stainless steel is worktables. Worktables are generally used for prep work in busy kitchens. The type of worktable you purchase will depend on what you are prepping. Worktables generally come in economy, standard, and heavy duty grades. Economy is made from 430 stainless steel and is 18 gauge. This type is best used for general duties in the kitchen and is not meant for heavy usage. Standard stainless steel worktables are made from 304 stainless steel, are 16 gauge, and work well when exposed to corrosive elements to eliminate rust. Heavy Duty stainless steel worktables are the highest quality and boast premium 14 gauge stainless steel; these worktables are built to withstand repeated wear and tear from all the elements.
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