How to identify the difference between stainless steel and aluminum alloy?
Aluminum alloy and Stainless Steel might look similar, but they are actually quite different. For some fresh ones, identifying stainless steel from aluminum alloy can be confusing. Both aluminum alloy and stainless steel are noted for their anti-corrosive properties, especially when compared to other metals. Can you tell the difference between them?
1. Different weight under Same volume.
The density of them varies a lot. Aluminum has a much lower density than stainless steel, so materials made from it can be lighter in weight. The weight of aluminum is typically three times or more lighter than stainless steel. So if the item looks the same volume as regular steel, the lighter must be stainless steel.
2. Different cost
Aluminum is typically cheaper than stainless steel because it does not require much processing. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is expensive due to the lengthy refining process and alloying.
3. Different mechanical properties.
Aluminum has a much better conductor of heat than stainless steel which makes it is used for car radiators and air conditioning units. Aluminum is a very good conductor of electricity compared to stainless steel. In the terms of strength, Stainless steel is stronger than Aluminum.
4. Different application
Stainless steel is less reactive with foods due to its neutral chemical composition. 304 Stainless steel is better suited for cooking applications, such as counter tops and food storage containers. But aluminum can affect color and flavor because the coating can mix in the food and can cause any diseases.
How do you distinguish the and aluminum alloy?
First hit the metal with a magnet. If it sticks to the item, it is not going to be aluminum, but will most likely be steel or a special type of stainless steel known as 400 grade stainless steel. This should be your first step in identifying stainless steel from aluminum.
Observing the surface of item. Stainless steel is much less susceptible to corrosion than aluminum. stainless steel is specially made to prevent staining and corrosion (rust), while aluminum will tend to become clouded if it is exposed to moisture or chemicals for extended periods.
When subjected to a grinder, item made from aluminum do not give out sparks. If it is non-magnetic and gives off sparks, the item is most likely made of a 300-series grade stainless steel.
Knowing the difference can help you determine which one you need for your project. WORLD IRON&STEEL carries dozens of stainless steel pipe and tube in grades such as 304,304L,316,316L and more. Visit, call or email us for more information.