The Difference Between Clean Steel and Stainless Steel

What is clean steel and stainless steel? Anyone who works in the steel industry seems to understand the difference between the two. However, other individuals may not know the difference between clean steel and stainless steel. That is why very many individuals refer to it as steel. However, there are some unique differences:

1. Stainless Steel Is Magnetic

The first difference between clean and stainless steel is that stainless steel is magnetic while clean steel isn’t. If an object is attracted to a magnet, it is made of stainless steel. This happens because of the chromium in the alloy. When there is more chromium, there will be less magnetic response. Therefore, if a magnet is placed close to the steel, it will be attracted to the steel.

2. Stainless Steel Will Not Rust

The second difference is that stainless steel will not rust. When oxygen combines with the chromium, it creates a chromium oxide barrier. This barrier protects the rest of the metal from rusting or corroding. In this case, the chromium is acting as a sacrificial anode. If the chromium is used up, the steel will start to rust.

3. Stainless Steel Is More Expensive

Stainless steel is more expensive than clean steel. The price is due to chromium and other metals in the alloy. These additions make it more difficult and expensive to produce when compared to clean steel. In such a case, the price of stainless steel is about two to four times the price of clean steel.

4. Stainless Steel Is Difficult To Clean

Stainless steel is also challenging to clean. It has a high level of chromium in it, which makes cleaning difficult and time-consuming. In addition, the chromium creates a layer on the stainless-steel surface that protects it from further corrosion. However, the layer can be easily damaged when cleaned with abrasive materials or cleansers. Clean steel, on the other hand, is easy to clean. There is no chromium in it, so nothing protects the surface from rusting or corroding. All needed for cleaning is soap and water or a mild detergent.

5. Stainless Steel Is an Alloy

Another difference between clean and stainless steel is that stainless steel is an alloy. This means it has two or more different types of metal in it to make one product. In this case, there are chromium and iron in the alloy. Clean steel, on the other hand, doesn’t have any alloys in it. Instead, it is made entirely from iron and other elements.

Stainless Steel Is Shiny

The final difference between clean steel and stainless steel is that Stainless Steel is shiny while clean steel isn’t. This is because the chromium in the alloy causes it to have a shiny appearance when exposed to sunlight. Clean, untarnished steel will not be this shiny.


Now that the difference between clean and stainless steel is understood, it is crucial to know when to use each type. Contact J.F. Heat Treating Inc. if you have any questions about the process. We are a heat-treating company specializing in the steel industry and offer various services such as annealing, normalizing, and tempering.

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