By definition, stainless steel is a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass. However, there isn’t just one kind of stainless steel. There are numerous grades of stainless steel all with variations in density, elasticity, thermal conductivity and other properties. When it comes to a stainless steel that must endure corrosive environments, which most stainless steel industrial containers must, austenitic stainless steels are the most popular choices. But even then, there are two popular grades: 304 and 316 stainless steel. So, what grade stainless steel drum is right for you?
304 stainless steel is generally the most common austenitic steel used due to it’s high nickel and chromium content. The high chromium content gives 304 stainless steel drums and other products excellent corrosion resistance.
316 stainless steel also has high amounts of chromium and nickel, but with a significant amount of molybdenum, grade 316 stainless steel possesses an even higher level of corrosion resistance.
What grade of stainless steel you need largely depends on your use. In the case of stainless steel drums, it largely depends on the materials you wish to contain or ship and any regulations governing those materials.
For example, while 304 is often used in commercial food processing, 316 is considered one of the most suitable choices for marine applications, medical devices and chemical processing or storage. 304 has better formability and is generally more affordable, but 316 may be a better choice when working with/containing corrosive environments or where greater strength and hardness are required.
At Skolnik, we know our steel and are happy to guide our partners to the most efficient and effective material and container for their needs.