Stainless steel is the star material in modern kitchen design. Its corrosion resistance and hygienic properties make it ideal for sinks, basins, shower trays, benchtops and appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers. In food contact applications, today's consumers want the same high standards of functionality, food safety and cleanliness as expected in restaurant kitchens or the food processing industry. Bathroom accessories are also made using stainless steel.
Kitchen and bathroom sinks have been manufactured in a wide variety of materials, from timber to the latest composite materials. Each has its benefits, and the right one for you will depend on your needs. All sinks, regardless of material, will eventually show signs of wear and tear, but they should also be able to withstand the rigors of everyday use for a very long time.
The most popular material for kitchen sinks today is stainless steel. Note, however, that not all stainless steel sinks are equal. The first thing to look at is the chrome and the nickel ratio. Chrome increases hardness and wear resistance, and provides the stainless steel with lustre and durability. Nickel increases strength and improves shock resistance.
18% chrome and 10% nickel (18/10) is the preferred ratio for high-end stainless steel sinks. Usually referred to as "surgical", it is non-porous, superbly hygienic, rust-free, heat resistant and extremely durable. Only well-known brands use this premium quality stainless steel as standard in their production process; giving a lifetime guarantee that your 18/10 stainless steel sink will not chip, flake or, of course, crack or break. Stainless is sometimes used for bathroom vanities and cabinets too.
The chrome-nickel grade is not only important for durability. Some stainless steel sinks look bright and shiny at first, but soon rust and corrode because the combination of chrome and nickel is not exactly right.
There are good reasons why stainless steel is so widely used in the home:
Stainless steel is hygienic
The hard metallic surface makes it difficult for bacteria to adhere and survive.
Stainless steel is easy to clean
With only a minimum of maintenance, stainless steel can be kept in as-new condition for decades.
Stainless steel is mechanically resistant
Stainless sinks and cooking utensils are able to withstand shock and abrasion.
Stainless steel has a self-heating surface
The reason for stainless steel's high corrosion resistance is the so-called "passive layer" that forms on its surface. This layer is characterised by a Self-Repair Mechanism, which is the secret of its outstanding durability.
The Self-Repair Mechanism of Stainless Steel
Stainless steel has a unique feature: it is self healing. Due to the alloying elements in the stainless steel, a thin, transparent "passive layer" is formed on its surface. Even if the stainless steel surface is scratched or otherwise damaged, this passive layer, which is only a few atoms thick, instantaneously reforms under the influence of oxygen from water. This explains why stainless steel does not require coating or other corrosion protection to stay bright and shiny even after decades of use.
Taking Care of Stainless Steel Sinks
Timeless. Elegant. Like fine silver, its beautiful finish gains with age and use. But this does not mean we can neglect the care of this essential kitchen item. As a rule, stainless steel's best friend is cold, clean water or a mild detergent solution, applied with a soft sponge, rinsed well and wiped dry. Here are some of the products or elements that can damage your skin:
Chlorides are found in almost all soaps, detergents and cleaning products and can be damaging to stainless steel. They are water soluble, however, so if you rinse away residues after each use, a weekly scouring is all that is needed to keep your sink looking bright and shiny.
Like most metallic surfaces, your stainless steel sink will scratch. Don't worry, these are simply usage marks which will eventually blend into the overall finish of the sink.
Your sink is designed to serve as many things but not as a chopping board. This type of use will cause deep scratches in its surface, and will also blunt your knives.
The quality of your water can affect the appearance of your sink. When water has a high iron content, a brown surface stain can form on the sink giving the appearance of rust. Also, in areas with a high concentration of minerals or over-softened water, a white film may develop on the sink. To combat these problems, we suggest you wipe the sink dry after each use and give it a more thorough clean each week using a recommended abrasive product.
Foods containing high levels of salt should not be allowed to dry on the sink surface. Rinse your sink thoroughly after use.
Tips on Cleaning Your Sink
Do rinse thoroughly after each use
Do wipe dry after each use to prevent the build-up of mineral deposits
Do scour the sink each week, making sure to rub in the direction of the satin finish lines
Don't scour the sink across the satin finish lines
Don't allow liquid soap or other household cleaners to dry on the surface of the sink
Don't leave solutions of chlorine bleach and water to stand in the sink for long periods of time
Don't use a steel wool pad to clean your sink
Don't use rubber mats or dishpans in the sink to protect the finish
Don't leave wet sponges, cloths or cleaning pads in the sink