What is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is a name given any steel alloy that contains the element chromium, or to be specific at least 9% Chromium. Other metals can be alloyed with stainless steel, the second most common being Nickel.
What is Chromium?
Chromium, colloquially called “Chrome”, is a metal that is worth about 6 dollars per pound by itself (but I have never been to a yard that buys pure chromium). Its primary use is in stainless steel due to its ability to resist corrosion, and as a plating on metal parts because it is shiny. It is basically never used by itself.
What causes some stainless steel to be non-magnetic?
Some stainless steel is magnetic, and some is not. This is because some stainless steel contains Nickel.
Nickel and chromium interact in a very special way, and the chrome negates the ferromagnetic proporties of the nickel and iron.
In general, alloys of nickel and chromium will not me magnetic, neither will alloys of nickel and copper.
What is the most valuable stainless steel?
Really, the value of your scrap is dependent on weather or not you have a buyer. If you have a whole lot of 200 grade stainless, but nobody to sell it to, you will be getting a much lower price than if you sell to a specialty buyer.
Non-magnetic stainless steel will usually be worth a little more than aluminum these days. And the great part is that the weight adds up much faster than aluminum per unit of volume.
What are the different grades of stainless steel?
The grades are numbered from 1xx-6xx. In general, the 400 series is the cheapest, and doesn’t normally contain nickel and is therefore magnetic. The 3xx series stainless is non magnetic and most commonly recycled at scrap yards. 304 stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel (commonly called 18-8). The 316 grade stainless is more valuable as it contains 16% chromium, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum.