How can you test stainless quality on kitchen and galley items when it's not marked? Actually, it's easy to avoid the dreaded "rusting stainless!"

Testing Stainless Quality

How can you test the quality of stainless kitchen or galley gear?  This set was a mid-range price and feels solid in your hand, yet it’s rusting.  And it’s never been around salt water.

When I bought it, I just somehow figured that if it was stainless, that’s all I needed to know.  Obviously, I was wrong.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.

I recently wrote about the various stainless designations on kitchenware, and said that while the best stainless for kitchen/galley use was 18/10, 18/8 would probably also be fine, while 18/0 was likely to rust.

A couple of readers made the point that many items simply aren’t labeled in the store or even online.  So how do you know if you’re getting high quality stainless or something that will rust?

Another reader, Debra Trottier, gave the answer:  carry a small magnet with you.  Says Debra, ” I’ve taken to carrying a magnet in my purse at all times so I can ‘test’ anything I’m considering buying for the boat. It works well as many household items aren’t marked as to stainless quality. If the magnet sticks, I move on. Just make sure it’s not in the same pocket as your credit cards!”

Debra’s right:  18/10 and 18/8 stainless aren’t magnetic, 18/0 is.  Now, it’s not as strongly magnetic as straight steel, but this refrigerator magnet will pick up a spoon at an angle.  Just before it gets fully vertical, the spoon will slide off.  But on my other, better quality stainless, it just doesn’t stick at all.

One more quick tip:  if you look closely at that top photo, you’ll notice that the rust is concentrated in the grooves.  I believe that’s because water tends to sit there longer when the dishes are drying.  I know that the grooves are harder to clean out when washing by hand — and it takes more water to rinse them out, too.  So one feature that I’ll be looking for in a new set is a nice, simple streamlined design.

For years, if we were buying screws or bolts in a hardware and weren’t sure of the stainless quality, we’d wander over to the “magnet aisle” and use one to test the item in question.  Now I’m just going to stick a small magnet in the day pack that I usually carry when shopping.

Now if I could just find a “virtual magnet” for online items that aren’t marked!

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19 Comments
  • Carol Ann on Facebook
    Posted at 14 May 2012 Reply

    What a Great tip! Thank you! 🙂

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 14 May 2012 Reply

    Thanks to Debra for suggesting it!!

  • Ted
    Posted at 14 May 2012 Reply

    Another item to keep away from the magnet in your pocket or bag is your passport. They also have the mag. strip in them with your info. Most other I.D. does also ie. drivers license..

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 14 May 2012 Reply

    Ted also just made a great comment — be sure to keep magnets away from your passport, too. Some driver’s licenses have a mag strip as well.

  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 14 November 2012 Reply

    Good idea!!

  • Cheryl Geeting on Facebook
    Posted at 15 November 2012 Reply

    Great tip that I didn’t know about … Thanks Carolyn!

  • Lindsey Paris
    Posted at 25 May 2014 Reply

    I never knew this…thanks for the great tip!

  • Shawn Haugen
    Posted at 25 May 2014 Reply

    Thanks good to know!

  • Mckissick Journey
    Posted at 25 May 2014 Reply

    Great tip…. Thanks

  • Soupy Sayles
    Posted at 25 May 2014 Reply

    good tip Carolyn, As a man i”m not quite so particular so i went to the dollar store & bought some nice looking “silverware”, never tested them, but have had them on boat for 4 yrs. Now, no rust. I NEVER let air dry. Rince with scalding hot water, dry with dish towel & put in drawer.

  • Judith C
    Posted at 10 May 2016 Reply

    That’s good to know. I know what to do with Memaw’s silver sitting in that box in the closet.

  • Tina Gonsalves
    Posted at 11 May 2016 Reply

    We bought a used boat last year and try as I might I cannot get the stainless sink and oven front clean of stains/spots/rust. Any tips on how to get the marks off? Thanks!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 11 May 2016 Reply

      Barkeeper’s Friend is the first thing I turn to. If that doesn’t work, you can try Prism Polish. Good luck!

  • Gregory Thompson
    Posted at 28 June 2016 Reply

    Don’t keep a magnet in your purse. Keep it in your glove box or similar. It can damage your credit card, passport or nexus cards and such

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 29 June 2016 Reply

    Good to know!

  • Temp Tag
    Posted at 26 August 2017 Reply

    This is also helpful when shopping for new appliances. Lots of ‘stainless’ out there that looks great but will rust. Got these calls all the time as an appliances salesperson!

  • Richard Baxter
    Posted at 27 August 2017 Reply

    I have an App on my Android phone called “Metal Detector” (kurt radwanski) that appears to detect Ferrous metals but not Non-Ferrous metals (stainless, aluminium, copper).
    I carry a magnetic money clip that I have used on multiple occasions to check metals. Never had an issue with credit cards but it ruins hotel key-cards.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 28 August 2017 Reply

      I really wonder how a phone app can detect magnetism!

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