Despite what you’ve heard, stainless steel IS susceptible to rusting. Corrosion on metal is common. It is easily recognizable on iron and steel as unsightly yellow/orange rust. Such metals are called “active” because they actively corrode in a natural environment, when their atoms combine with oxygen to form rust.
Stainless steels are passive metals because they contain other metals, like chromium, nickel and manganese, that stabilize the atoms.
- 400 series stainless steels are called ferritic, contain chromium, and are magnetic
- 300 series stainless steels are called austenitic, and contain chromium and nickel
- 200 series stainless, also austenitic, contains manganese, nitrogen and carbon
- Austenitic types of stainless are not magnetic, and generally provide greater resistance to corrosion than ferritic types
With 12-30 percent chromium content, an invisible passive film covers the steel’s surface, acting as a shield against corrosion. As long as the film is intact and not broken or contaminated, the metal is passive and stainless. If the passive film of stainless steel has been broken, equipment starts to corrode. As the corrosion continues, the steel will rust.
Enemies of Stainless Steel
There are three basic things which can break down stainless steel’s passivity layer and allow corrosion to occur:
1. Mechanical abrasion. Mechanical abrasion refers to objects that will scratch a steel surface. Steel pads, wire brushes and scrapers are prime examples.
2. Deposits and water. Tap water has varying degrees of hardness. Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may have hard or soft water. Hard water may leave spots, and when heated leave deposits behind that if left to sit, will break down the passive layer and rust stainless steel. Other deposits from food preparation and service must be properly removed.
3. Chlorides. Chlorides are found nearly everywhere. They are in water, food and table salt. One of the worst chloride perpetrators can come from household and industrial cleaners.
Here are some best practices that can help prevent stainless steel rust.
1. Use the proper tools and clean with the polish lines. When cleaning stainless steel products, use non-abrasive tools. Soft cloths and plastic scouring pads will not harm steel’s passive layer. Stainless steel pads can be used, but the scrubbing motion must be in the direction of the manufacturer’s polishing marks. Some stainless steel comes with visible polishing lines or “grain.” When visible lines are present, always scrub in a motion parallel to the lines. When the grain can’t be seen, play it safe and use a soft cloth or plastic scouring pad.
2. Use alkaline, alkaline chlorinated or non-chloride containing cleaners. While many traditional cleaners are loaded with chlorides, the industry is providing an ever-increasing selection of non-chloride cleaners. If you are not sure of chloride content in the cleaner used, contact your cleaner supplier. If your present cleaner contains chlorides, ask your supplier if they have an alternative. Avoid cleaners containing quaternary salts; it can attack stainless steel and cause pitting and rusting.
3. Treat your water. Though this is not always practical, softening hard water can do much to reduce deposits. There are certain filters that can be installed to remove distasteful and corrosive elements. To ensure proper water treatment, contact a treatment specialist.
4. Keep your equipment clean. Use alkaline, alkaline chlorinated or non-chloride cleaners at recommended strength. Clean frequently to avoid build-up of hard, stubborn stains. If you boil water in stainless steel equipment, remember the single most likely cause of damage is chlorides in the water. Heating cleaners that contain chlorides have a similar effect.
5. Rinse, rinse, rinse. If chlorinated cleaners are used, rinse and wipe equipment and supplies immediately. The sooner you wipe off standing water, especially when it contains cleaning agents, the better. After wiping equipment down, allow it to air dry; oxygen helps maintain the stainless steel’s passivity film.
6. Never use hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid) on stainless steel. If used, hydrochloric acid can cause cracking, corrosion and pitting on stainless steel.
7. Regularly restore/passivate stainless steel. This is discussed in the recommended cleaners chart below.
Recommended Cleaners for specific situations
|Routine cleaning||Soap, ammonia, detergent, Medallion||Apply with cloth or sponge|
|Fingerprints & smears||Arcal 20, Lac-O-Nu Ecoshine||Provides barrier film|
|Stubborn stains & discoloration||Cameo, Talc, Zud, First Impression||Rub in direction of polish lines|
|Grease & fatty acids, blood, burnt-on-foods||Easy-off, De-Grease It Oven Aid||Excellent removal on all finishes|
|Grease & oil||Any good commercial detergent||Apply with sponge or cloth|
|Restoration/Passivation||Benefit, Super Sheen|
In this post I want to bring to light one of the current dilemmas many of us are facing in our kitchens today. Although the list of equipment offerings and technologies continues to grow, we see more and more specialized kitchen equipment designed for a specific job. Whether we are baking, steaming, braising, boiling, poaching, roasting, grilling, staging, frying or searing, there is a piece of equipment on the market specifically designed for that specific job.
Most of our kitchens are littered with several pieces of single-purpose equipment. They are all pieces of a puzzle that fit together and (hopefully) lend themselves well to each other. Whether we are talking about convection ovens, steamers, grills, flat top griddles, immersion circulators, holding cabinets, combi ovens, low temp roasting ovens, etc… they all have their place and purpose. On the other hand, most of the real estate in our kitchens is at a premium, preventing us from utilizing them all properly. We are left with two answers to this challenge, either build massive kitchens capable of holding all this equipment or find versatility in the equipment we use.
When discussing versatility, most equipment can be placed into one of two categories, versatile equipment or single-purpose equipment. Let’s dissect these two categories a bit further and analyze some of the equipment mentioned above.
Convection ovens are the go-to standard for versatility and have been widely used in kitchens around the world for years. These ovens have their place in most kitchens as they are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on the market today. From prep to finish the convection oven can be used throughout the entire cooking process and is effective at both high and low temperatures, all within a small footprint. Other equipment that fit into this same category are grills, griddles, and combi ovens.
Steamers are one of the main culprits in the single-purpose category. They are less versatile and capable of only one temp and one process – steaming. Not only is the equipment limited by its versatility, but often, finding a place in the kitchen for single-purpose equipment can be a hassle. While highly effective at performing the specific job the unit is designed for, single-purpose equipment can be a waste of space if it is not utilized around the clock. Other examples of single-use kitchen equipment include immersion circulators and low-temp roasting ovens.
What’s this mean for you?
A lot goes into making any kind of kitchen equipment decision. Quality, reliability, capital cost, maintenance cost, operating cost, equipment life span, etc. Buyers have to weigh all these variables and findthe best balance for their personal needs. However, one of the most impactful elements we are all looking for is versatility. We don’t all have the luxury of a large kitchen. Normally, the larger the kitchen footprint the smaller the customer seating footprint, which means less potential money to be made each day.
What if I told you there was a piece of equipment that addresses these pain points? One that is versatile to the point of being able to poach, steam, braise,roast, bake, stage, sous vide, confit, high yield roast, hold and perform many other processes all within a small footprint? One that is affordable, reliable, requires no hood and is easy to use at all skill levels? A unit that can reduce ticket times, food costs, labor costs and maintenance costs. A piece that can be used for morning prep, the lunch rush, and staging for a busy dinner service, then continue to make you money overnight while you sleep? If this is the type of equipment you are looking for, then the Winston CVap is a game changer for your business. CVap equipment is hands down one of the most versatile items you can place in your kitchen. It is a piece of kitchen equipment that can save and make money at the same time, all inside a small footprint. Chances are the restaurant down the street turning 100 tables on a Tuesday night has already discovered it.
Many of you have discovered the benefits of precision low-temperature cooking provided by CVap® equipment. We often receive reports of you preparing the perfectly prepared rare steak or a beautiful mid-rare burger. But you might not know that this same process provided by Controlled Vapor technology can also be a critical part of your HACCP plan.
There are people who avoid low-temperature processing because of the fear of food-borne illness created by bacteria such as e-coli, salmonella or clostridium perfringens. Improper food temperature is the most frequent – and preventable – cause of food-borne illness, which is why temperature control is so critical to any HACCP plan. FSIS Directive appendix A&B Compliance Guidelines for Meeting Lethality Performance Standards defines the time/temperature requirements for achieving 6.5-log10 or 7-log10 reduction of Salmonella.
We conducted a test with our CVap technology to see the results of bacteria reduction while maintaing the quality of a medium rare burger. In our test we were able to accomplish a +7 log reduction and still maintained the quality associated with a medium rare burger. Safe and tasty!
You can always trust CVap equipment to produce high quality results and the food safety needed for your HACCP plan.