304 Stainless Steel is the most common form of stainless on the market. When people look for stainless steel, they search for its inability to rust, and it’s inability to corrode when compared to other metals. The main reason people use 304 so often is that of its extreme versatility for usage.
Why is 304 Stainless Steel so Common?
Resistance to Oxidation – 304 is particularly great at being able to withstand corrosion from oxidizing acids. Oxidizing acids are a very common object to interact with in food service. Part of the reason they are so common is that practically every restaurant that’s been built in the last 50 years has been using 304 for all of its interior design.
Corrosion Resistance and Chloride – 304 has one main deficit. It degrades faster when it interacts with chlorides or saline environments. Sodium chloride, salt, is extremely common considering it’s in most foods as well as in most bodily fluids such as sweat and oils. Another steel that has better corrosion resistance than 304 is 316 the second most common stainless.
Difference between 304 and 316
The main difference between the two is that 316 has 2-3% of molybdenum which increases the corrosion resistance (especially from chlorides) which makes the 316 a little stronger at natural degradation. 316 is naturally a more common choice in coastal regions and areas near bodies of water such as salt water, because of the natural increase of sodium chloride.
However, despite this difference, 304 and 316 are remarkably similar. Both use nickel to maintain the regular composition at lower temperatures. These combinations are great at balancing strength, workability, and corrosion resistance. You’d see these most common in architectures and landscaping.