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Why Stainless Flatware Often Sustains Pitting, Staining

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Why Stainless Flatware Often Sustains Pitting, Staining Photo © Serif
Question: Why Stainless Flatware Often Sustains Pitting, Staining
Why does my 18/10 stainless flatware show signs of pitting, staining and rusting? How can I prevent it? Shouldn't 18/10 be resistant to rusting?
Answer: When it comes to the stainless steel composition used in flatware, 18/10 is the very best that you can get. The 18/10 composition contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The more nickel material, the more resistant stainless is to corrosion.

However, though the higher concentration of nickel (10%) makes it highly resistant to pitting, staining and rusting, it does not necessarily guarantee it. It really depends on how you care for the 18/10 quality stainless steel flatware. But, by buying 18/10 rather than 18/8 or 18/0, you have taken the first steps to ensure the highest quality and resistance possible.

Of the stainless flatware set, knives in particular are more susceptible to rust. That's because flatware knives contain a certain amount of carbon steel in the blade construction, which is essential to make the knife blades harder and more durable, than they would otherwise be if carbon was left out of the composition. This makes knives more prone to rust and stains, than the rest of the flatware setting. If you examine your flatware, you'll probably notice that those that have rust are generally the knife blades.

There are several things that can cause stainless steel flatware to rust. Harsh dishwasher detergents can over time, cause staining. When flatware is left wet in the sink, in the dishwasher or on the counter, acid from food residue can erode the finish and cause rust stains or pitting. This often happens when cutlery is not dried immediately after washing, but is left to air dry in the sink tray or dishwasher. Or when washing dishes and cutlery is deferred to the next day or meal time.

How can you prevent this from happening and keep flatware looking nice? You should hand wash quality flatware after using and dry it immediately. Though it sounds labor intensive, it will keep your expensive flatware looking nice. You could also keep quality stainless in a cutlery chest or store it separately from other flatware. This would prevent the odd scratching from everyday wear and tear or from other utensils.

Why is 18/10 stainless the better choice than silverware for a formal setting? The gleaming shine, weight and beauty of 18/10 quality stainless makes it an excellent choice for formal place settings, because this flatware is much easier to care for, than traditional silverware. Silverware requires constant cleaning with a silver polish, to remove even a smallest fingerprint because it tarnishes very easily. It must also be properly stored to cut down on cleaning. Silverware is still much in demand for the formal table, but quality stainless has become very acceptable due to our busy lifestyles.

Stainless flatware that is 18/10 is usually more expensive than 18/8 or 18/0, but the quality is evident and very noticeable in feel and look. The additional weight of this stainless flatware also helps to balance the cutlery, so it makes for very nice handling, as well as adds a lot of elegance to the dinner table.

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Read More About Cutlery:

Understanding Stainless Flatware Specs
How to Set a Table
Should You Splurge or Save on Flatware?

Maximize Flatware Storage
Brides and Silverware
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