Testing Stainless Quality

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

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!"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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  1. What a Great tip! Thank you! 🙂

  2. Thanks to Debra for suggesting it!!

  3. 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..

  4. 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.

  5. Candy Ann Williams on Facebook says:

    Good idea!!

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

  7. I never knew this…thanks for the great tip!

  8. Thanks good to know!

  9. Great tip…. Thanks

  10. Soupy Sayles says:

    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.

  11. Judith C says:

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

  12. Tina Gonsalves says:

    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!

  13. 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

  14. Good to know!

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