What is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is from the iron-based alloy family. It contains, on average, 12 percent chromium, which is the chemical element that produces an anti-corrosive, invisible thin layer of oxide, better known as the passive layer, and is the protective property. A corrosion-resistant layer naturally forms when chromium reacts with sufficient oxygen (via air and water). If this layer is damaged or removed during fabrication or polishing, it will self-repair immediately as long as the surface is clean. Although more resistant to corrosion than other carbon and alloy steels, stainless steel describes the metal’s rust-resistant properties. However, it does not mean it is entirely stain-resistant in certain conditions. So, it is essential to follow a preventative maintenance program to keep the desired look.

Corrosive environments

The most common situations —those that contain salts — such as swimming pools and ocean, seawater and ice melting agents, will actively attack stainless steel. Heat and humidity also increase the corrosive activity of chlorine and bromine salts.

Other chemical reactions that may cause deterioration include carbon picked up from bending or fabricating tools, finishing equipment, or steel covered workbenches. The fumes from the muriatic acid solution used by contractors or masons on masonry can attack stainless steel.

When considering the material’s mechanical finish —satin or mirror—corrosion-causing agents will collect within the fine lines of a satin finish instead of a smooth surface of a mirror finish.

There are varying levels and types of corrosion, and it is advisable to seek additional technical reading on the subject if corrosion is a concern.

Preventative maintenance

Stainless Steel and Corrosive Environments products

Keep your stainless-steel cable railing looking as new as the day of installation with regularly scheduled maintenance and cleaning. Remove any noticeable discoloration and stains using a two-part method designed to clean and protect. We recommend E-Z Clean, a high-performance formula that is easy to apply and is long-lasting.