Stainless steel sinks are a sleek, contemporary addition to a kitchen, but choosing the best stainless steel sink for your needs and your budget can be confusing. Stainless steel sinks are not made of pure steel. Instead, stainless steel compounds are mixed with chromium and nickel in order to create a sink that is durable and cost-effective. The ratio of chromium to nickel in your stainless steel sink impacts the appearance and durability of the sink.
Different manufacturers utilize different ratios of chromium to nickel in their stainless steel sinks. Typically these ratios are marked on the sink in a percentage ratio. The first number in the ratio represents the percentage of chromium in the compound while the second number represents the percentage of nickel. A stainless steel sink listed as 18/10 contains 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel, and is considered surgical grade steel. Other sinks may list 18/8 or even 18/0.
The percentage of chromium in a stainless steel sink indicates the sink's luster. Sinks with a chromium percentage at or over 18 tend to have a more shiny, reflective surface that more closely resembles polished silver. Sinks with lower chromium content but higher nickel content tend to appear duller and grayer than high-chromium sinks.
When stainless steel sinks are made without nickel, their percentage is likely listed as 18/0. Without nickel, stainless steel is magnetic. Magnetic stainless steel sinks are not as common or useful as magnetic stainless steel refrigerators, where magnets serve a functional purpose.
One of the most important aspects of a stainless steel sink is its resistance to corrosion, whether due to exposure to water or exposure to chemical cleaners. High levels of both nickel and chromium indicate high corrosion resistance, but chromium is the main factor in determining a sink's resistance to corrosion.
Hardness and Strength
Nickel is added to stainless steel alloys to increase the strength and hardness of the steel. Higher nickel content indicates a stronger stainless steel sink that is less prone to denting or cracking under pressure or weight.