Steel is a versatile and strong material and, just like other types of metals, it comes in different grades. From your kitchen sink to a surgeon’s scalpel, stainless steel serves many different purposes. When it comes to processing food, the type of steel your equipment is made out of plays a huge role in quality and sanitation. Understanding the different types of steel used in food processing equipment will allow you to choose dumpers, conveyors, blenders, and meat tenderizers for your facility with confidence.
Types of Steel Used in Food Processing Equipment
Why Stainless Steel?
There are several reasons why steel is the premium choice for food processing equipment:
- Cleaning stainless steel is easy. There are many types of strong cleaning agents, such as alkaline solutions and nitric acid, that are safe to use on stainless steel equipment.
- It lives up to its name – it retains its original color for many years.
- Stainless steel is not easily cracked, dented, or scratched.
- Many types of stainless steel grades are resistant to corrosion.
- It can withstand high temperatures without buckling
- Stainless steel does not affect the taste of food.
- It is one of the most formable types of metals.
Best Steel Grades for Food Processing Equipment
Steel grades 316 and 304 are two common and reliable types of steel used in food processing equipment, which is why they are often referred to as food-grade stainless steels. The main difference between 304 stainless steel and 316 stainless steel is that 316 stainless steel contains two to three percent molybdenum. The presence of molybdenum makes 316 grade stainless steel slightly more resilient against chlorides, which means it is perfect for processing salty food (source). Both 304 and 316 stainless steels are extremely strong and easy to manufacture.
Stainless Steel Maintenance
Avoid cleaning stainless steel with chemicals that can cause erosion, such as bleach. Nitric acid, iodine, and ammonium solutions are reliable disinfectants that are safe to use on stainless steel. If the equipment is made out of a durable grade of steel, such as 316 or 304 grade, it is okay to clean it with steamy water, extensive scrubbing, and certain chemicals.
If your equipment is made out of a different type of steel, dents and pits are more likely to form with cleaning and use. Indentions in stainless steel make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and dirt. It is also important to avoid exposing stainless steel to long-term contact with other metals, such as aluminum, which can lead to galvanic reactions that will ruin the surfaces of both metals.
Stainless steel is a strong, durable material, and if you purchase a piece of food processing equipment made out of a proper grade, it will last for many years to come. EnSight Solutions manufactures food processing equipment made out of 304 grade stainless steel, including blenders, dumpers, conveyors, and tenderizers.
If you are looking for stainless steel processing equipment, contact your state’s EnSight Solutions specialist, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 1-855-736-2195. The team at EnSight Solutions has over 100 years of combined experience in the food processing industry, and we would love to help you find your next piece of stainless steel food processing equipment. We look forward to helping you!