What is Stainless Steel? Will it Corrode?

Chris Baker

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless Steel is an alloy that was discovered in 1913 by Sheffield metallurgist Harry Brearley. He was experimenting with different types of steel for weapons and noticed that a 13% Chromium steel had not corroded after several months. Stainless Steel must have a minimum of 10.5% Chromium. The Chromium creates an oxide or a layer called the Passive layer on the Steel that helps to protects it from Corrosion. There are several different grades of stainless steel where the composition of the elements changes for different outcomes and corrosion resistance. PanoRAIL stocks and supplies exclusively Type 316 Stainless Steel cable and hardware which contains more Nickel and an element called Molybdenum that helps to protect the stainless steel further from corrosion caused by chlorides found in sea water and de-icing salts.

Can Stainless Rust?

Stainless in Stain ‘less’ not Stain ‘proof.’ Generally, Stainless Steel will not rust and corrode like ferrous steels. It can become contaminated by a surface contaminant which can occur by not cleaning the stainless after using a ferrous tool or by using gloves that may be contaminated by ferrous metals. This can cause panic understandably if this is happening to your stainless cable railing, cable, or hardware. The good news is that in almost every scenario it can be cleaned using CitriSurf 77 Plus which is a cleaning spray that will help prevent further staining going forward as well. If surface staining is noticed it is very important that it is addressed as soon as possible to avoid further damage making its removal more and more difficult. Here are some examples of stain removal (photos courtesy of Stellar Solutions, creators of Citrisurf Products):

Stainless Steel Rust Removal