Stainless steel is the most durable and sustainable material on the market today for a variety of products, and we think it is the best option to use for children’s feeding products. Many parents have already started to turn to stainless steel to replace plastic for safety and other benefits. In case you missed it, check out our post on why stainless steel is superior to plastic for feeding children.
Okay, so it is clear that stainless steel is a superior material to plastic, but did you know that you should also be cautious when purchasing stainless steel products? Not all stainless steel products are created equally. There are different types of stainless steel, and some of them are low quality which you’ll want to stay away from. In this blog post we share with you some information to keep in mind when choosing products made of stainless steel, especially those that your children will use to eat and drink!
Types of Stainless Steel and What’s Best for Your Family
What is a Stainless Steel Grade?
You’ve probably seen labels like this when buying stainless steel products – either on the package, the product itself, or an online sales page. These numbers show what kind of stainless steel was used to make the product, and it says a lot about the quality of what you’re buying.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are different types of stainless steel, and they are classified according to “grades.” The grade of stainless steel refers to its quality, durability and temperature resistance. You don’t want to buy just any stainless steel product because some are low quality and less safe. You will want to pay attention to the grade of stainless steel the product is made of, so let’s get to it!
The Different Stainless Steel Grades
What these numbers really mean isn’t as complicated as you might think. The numbers (18/8, 18/10, 18/0, etc.) are based on the composition of the stainless steel and refer to the amount of chromium and nickel present in the product.
The first number, 18, refers to the amount of chromium, and the second number refers to the amount of nickel. For example, 18/10 stainless steel is composed of 18% chromium and 10% nickel.
Iron is the element and base metal (about 65% to 75% in weight) in stainless steel, and the chromium binds oxygen to the surface of the product to protect the iron from oxidation (rust). Nickel enhances the corrosion resistance of the stainless steel. Therefore, the higher the nickel content, the more corrosion-resistant stainless steel is (and thus, the higher the quality).
Let’s check out a few common grades used to make feeding products you might use with your children:
18/8 – Also known as grade 304. It is composed of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, making it very resistant to corrosion and oxidation. This is the grade you want to look for when purchasing stainless steel cups, plates, bowls, dishes, water bottles, etc.
18/10 – This is the absolute best grade of stainless steel used specifically for flatware and is a notch up in quality from 18/8. The “10” refers to 10% nickel, which gives utensils made with this grade an extra boost in corrosion resistance power. This extra boost is necessary for utensils we put into our mouths – and especially our children’s mouths – daily. You should definitely choose 18/10 when it comes to flatware.
Now let’s take a look at a notch down in quality:
18/0 – Also known as grade 430, this contains a negligible amount of nickel (0.75%) and therefore, has reduced corrosion resistance. This is a lower quality grade that is more likely to corrode than 18/8 or 18/10.
410 – This grade is also commonly used in the manufacturing of knives and flatware. The grade 410 is a 12% chromium martensitic stainless steel that is less corrosion resistant, tends to be brittle, and is not readily formable.
Watch Out for the Stainless Steel Grade!
Grades 18/0 (430) and 410 are what many companies use to make silverware because it’s much cheaper to produce. The majority of consumers aren’t aware of its low quality grade.
Many of these companies simply won’t advertise the type of stainless steel they use to make their utensils, or they make it really hard to find. Often, they will say something vague like “high quality stainless steel” and not even mention the specific grade. But now that you are armed with this information, you can be a more intelligent consumer and not be fooled anymore!
If you can’t find the type of stainless steel mentioned on a sales page online, send a message to the seller and ask them. If you can’t find it printed on the packaging at a retail store, don’t but it. NEVER buy utensils without knowing what grade of stainless steel you are getting. It’s a no-brainer to pay a few extra dollars for silverware made of 18/10 stainless steel, so you can have the peace of mind that your child is using the safest material possible.
Say NO to Rust!
As mentioned above, food grades 18/8 (304) and 18/10 stainless steel are corrosion-resistant, meaning they don’t rust. Superior anti-rust capability is an absolute must when it comes to feeding products. If rust develops in a container or on a utensil used for food or drinks, it can potentially lead to the ingestion of high levels of iron, which can cause some health issues. So if it’s used for food and drink, make sure it’s 18/8 – or 18/10 for silverware – and you won’t have to worry about this!
What About Aluminum?
Some people mistakenly think that a product they purchase is stainless steel, when it is actually aluminum or part aluminum. Aluminum and stainless steel look similar, and they are both used in products for food and beverages. There are no definitive studies out yet on aluminum and whether it is safe to eat or drink with, but there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to aluminum.
Aluminum is a non-neutral, reactive alloy that is composed of other metals (boron, copper, lithium, magnesium, manganese, silicon, tin, and zinc.) For this reason, it needs a lining. The lining, which is made of polymer and/or enamel, is used to prevent the food or beverage’s flavor from being changed by the aluminum leaching.
Let’s take a closer look at the materials used in this lining:
- Epoxy Resin is a class of reactive prepolymers and polymers that contain epoxide groups. About 75% of all epoxy resins used worldwide are based on Bisphenol A (BPA). Health problems linked to epoxy resins are asthma, skin allergies, and all the other harmful effects of BPA.
- Polymer is a substance that has a molecular structure consisting chiefly or entirely of a large number of similar units bonded together, e.g., many synthetic organic materials used as plastics and resins.
- Enamel is an opaque or semitransparent glassy substance applied to metallic or other hard surfaces for ornament or as a protective coating.
Aluminum is lightweight and can dent quite easily. Aluminum is also recyclable, but it is very prone to corrosion and isn’t dishwasher safe. As such, it isn’t a good material to use for dishes and utensils in your kitchen.
The moral of the story: Be sure to double-check if the products you purchase are indeed 100% stainless steel and don’t contain aluminum!
Is Stainless Steel Lead-Free?
Many people ask if stainless steel products contain lead. They probably read or heard this somewhere, but it really depends on the type of product you’re buying. One tip is to check if the brand does product testing for chemicals such as lead. All of the materials in our products are lab tested to make sure they don’t pose any risk of chemical exposure to your children.
What to Watch Out For
Harmful chemicals have only been found in low quality products made with cheap materials, so make sure you are only choosing food grades 18/8 (304) and 18/10 when it comes to stainless steel feeding products for your child. Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to your children’s safety!
Check out our stainless steel products on Amazon!