Everyone knows stainless steel is the top choice for the majority of commercial appliances. It's used everywhere and in everything due to its natural corrosion resistance, relative affordability, and accessibility around the world. All carbon steels, including stainless, are made from roughly the same elemental make-up. Where stainless differs is the addition of Chromium which gives it corrosion resistance. The chromium forms a sort of protective layer that fights off oxidisation.
This is why we use stainless steel wherever we can, to provide a long-lasting and valuable product. Let's take a look at the 3 different types we use in more detail.
Types of stainless steel we use at Heatlie
At Heatlie, we commonly use 3 grades of stainless steel.
- Used for the main body of BBQs, IGEs, Snappy King, Roaster, Hot Box and most accessories to go along
- 18-20% Chromium content
- Good corrosion resistance
- Most commonly used in food storage, kitchen and laundry products
304 is the most common form of stainless you'll encounter in everyday life. It's often used in residential appliances, architectural hardware, pots, pans and storage tanks. 304 is good at resisting corrosion from oxidisation, meaning moisture and oxygen don't have a huge effect on it like they would on standard carbon steel. This means it's perfect for kitchen and food-based use. Its main antagonist is chloride. When used in seaside applications, it can be susceptible to salty air. It doesn't take a lot of salt to begin a corrosive effect, which is why we would always recommend keeping your 304 BBQ undercover, out of the weather and very clean if you live near the coast.
- Used in 316 SS Island Gourmet Elites
- 16-18% Chromium content
- High corrosion resistance
- Most commonly used in marine and coastal applications
We do not use a lot of 316, with only one product employing it - the Island Gourmet 316 upgrade. This is highly recommended for extreme coastal applications for that next level of corrosion resistance. What differs 316 from 304 is a mineral called molybdenum. With the addition of 2-3% molybdenum, 316 provides heavy-duty corrosion resistance to oxidisation and chloride-based exposure.
- Used in our stainless steel cooking plates
- 12% Chromium content
- High corrosion resistance
- Most commonly used in mining and agriculture transport
3CR12 provides similar corrosion and heat resistance properties as 304 and 316, with the added benefit of weldability and formability. This is important for us when constructing our BBQ plates, as a lot of welding and forming is involved in this process, hence why we chose 3CR12 for our cooking plates.
How to maintain and clean stainless steel?
It is important to understand that all stainless steel is of high quality, and offers decent corrosion resistance. However, stainless steel is not literally "stainless". When exposed to hostile conditions for long periods of time, stainless can begin to show wear. To maintain it, always keep it under a weatherproof cover, no matter where you live, coastal or not. Do not leave it exposed at all times. Even though the stainless itself may be able to resist corrosion for longer, the entire BBQ isn't made of stainless and has many other metals and materials that deserve protection too!
Always keep it clean and regularly polish with stainless steel care oil. Grease splatters, dirt and environmental grime can speed up and encourage corrosive activity. Avoid direct contact with other metals for long periods of time as stainless can react badly against iron and steel, causing rust.
Never use steel wool or any other harsh scrubbers. Always use appropriate, soft cloths and wipe in the same grain as the stainless brush. Never use chloride, abrasive or all-purpose cleaners. A lubricant like WD-40 can be used to remove minor corrosion from external surfaces on our products. Highly baked-on stains and marks can be attacked with our Super Contact Cleaner.
For our 3CR12 cooking plates, scrape clean with a scraper after each cook and leave a layer of oil. Your plate will turn black and discolour over the burners, leaving two large horizontal streaks across the plate. This is normal and just the way stainless steel interacts with heat. It is possible to return it to its shiny stainless appearance through extreme scrubbing or grinding, however, we do not recommend it.
What to expect with stainless steel BBQs?
Our stainless steel BBQs are very popular among commercial customers who need a heavy-duty cooking machine. We have confidence that even our powder-coated BBQs would provide this, however stainless provides the extra value boost for longevity and ease of maintenance.
We would still always recommend a mild steel plate when it comes to cooking. Mild steel will always be a better conductor of heat, and won't leave the discolouration streaks mentioned above, instead evenly and entirely forming a non-stick coating across the whole plate.
Our burners can be chosen as either mild or stainless steel, and in this case we generally always recommend stainless. They are made from 304, and due to the construction of the BBQ, should rarely if ever come in contact with grease and fat like burners would on other grilled BBQs. This means you should rarely, if ever have to replace them. Mild steel burners will eventually burn through their powder coat and be exposed enough to rust, but this should not happen for a good decade or so.
At the end of the day, as long as you keep your stainless steel BBQ clean and protected, you'll avoid problems and get the proper stainless steel experience.
Check out our other guides on stainless steel and powder-coated BBQs for more information.