Compared to plain carbon steel, stainless steel alloys (there are more than 300 grades) contain at least 12% Chromium – a metal that is intrinsically corrosion resistant. Because of this alloying, stainless steels form a tightly-adherent and protective oxide layer which is so thin that the metallic coloration of the underlying steel is visible. The oxide layer that forms in ambient environments on plain carbon steels (i.e. “rust”) is a different oxide, which is nearly opaque, orange, thick, loose and porous.

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