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What is Stainless Steel Silverware?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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Stainless steel silverware is not silver, though it may have a silvery color and be very shiny. It’s actually shinier than most silver utensils, and it has the advantage of being durable and retaining good appearance for many years, though abuse of the flatware may occasionally lead to some rusting or pitting. Many people have true silverware, but maintaining it regularly can be annoying and time consuming, and they may choose to have stainless steel silverware for everyday use, only using the real silver on special occasions. Others see no point in silver flatware, and instead buy stainless steel because of its long lasting properties.

When people are choosing stainless steel silverware, they may be confused by labeling on packages, and also by the huge price range of stainless steel. Commonly found numbers on packages are the following: 18/10, 18/8, 18/0. The first number refers to the chromium percentage in the stainless steel. This is usually the same, 18%.

The second number is more important and refers to the nickel content. It’s actually the nickel that’s going to help to determine weight and durability. Higher nickel content, as in the 18/10 designation, is most desirable, unless people in the home have nickel allergies. Essentially, the number 10 means that the flatware has at least 10% nickel.

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This is one of the reasons why price difference is so common. Lighter-weight stainless steel silverware with lower nickel content doesn’t wear as well and won’t last as long. Most experts in this area urge people to consider buying 18/10 flatware if they plan to use it frequently, and only to consider 18/0 if the flatware is for very occasional use.

Another thing most people will want to think about when purchasing flatware is the amount needed. Stainless steel silverware is sold in numerous combinations and configurations. Commonly, it’s sold in sets of at least four place settings.

At minimum, these sets may include four each of dinner forks, salad forks, tablespoons, teaspoons, and butter knives. Occasionally, sets also have bonus pieces like serving spoons and meat forks, which can provide matching serving utensils. Most people may need at least a set of eight, and many recommend buying a set of twelve for those beginning housekeeping. It’s also sometimes possible to buy more pieces for a set through the company that makes the flatware, though styles may get discontinued after a while.

Many people look for stainless steel flatware at department stores, yet there are several other good places to find deals on high quality utensils. Sometimes warehouse stores like Costco® will carry high quality brands that are rated 18/10. People who are not fussy about flatware appearance or maintaining a set for years may find discontinued styles at outlet stores, and these may be represent significant quality too, with far lower prices. Restaurant supply stores may carry both luxury and economy brands of stainless steel flatware. Of course, the Internet remains a good place to search for numerous types of utensils too, and is usually the best resource when looking for pieces that will match discontinued styles.

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