Why Stainless Flatware Often Sustains Pitting and Staining

How to Keep Your Stainless Flatware Shiny and Rust Free

Vintage Luncheon Forks
Grannies Kitchen/Flickr

Why does 18/10 stainless flatware show signs of pitting, staining and rusting?

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 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel. The more nickel material, the more resistant stainless is to corrosion.

However, though the higher concentration of nickel (10 percent) 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.

Stainless Flatware Knives Are More Susceptible to Rust

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.

Dishwasher Detergents Cause Stainless Flatware to Rust

There are several things that can cause stainless steel flatware to rust.

Harsh dishwasher detergents can over time, cause staining.

Moisture and Acid Erode Finish

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 to Prevent Rusted Stainless Steel Flatware

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.

Stainless Flatware Compared with Silverware

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 make 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 the 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.