There are a few different stainless steel grades, so depending on your needs and what you plan to use your stainless steel for, check with your stainless steel supplier to see if they carry the variation of steel you require. Austenitic, martensitic, and ferritic stainless steels vary in the amount of chromium – the element that keeps the steel from corroding – content, and therefore will not be used for the same purposes. These three variations also have different carbon contents as well. Stainless steel suppliers will tell you that austenitic stainless steel is the most popular kind of metal used in cooking utensils because that steel is very easy to clean and has a very high resistance to corrosion. They will also tell you that if you’re planning on using stainless steel cooking tools you should go with the austenitic grade of stainless steel because not only does it stay stainless longer, it’s also very strong.
Martensitic steel is not as sturdy as austenitic so you run the risk of snapping a knife in half in the middle of a very important food preparation session. Finally, ferritic stainless steel is very like austenitic steel because it too has a high level of chromium so it resists corrosion beautifully, but where the latter is non-magnetic, the ferritic steel does contain magnetic properties. If a metal’s level of magnetism is an important factor for you, check with your stainless steel supplier for further details.