What Is Marine-Grade Stainless Steel? | Marine Metals for Boating

What Is Marine-Grade Stainless Steel?

If you’re like most people who are just beginning their adventures with boating, there are probably plenty of maritime words and phrases you’re unfamiliar with. Don’t worry – this is perfectly normal, so don’t be afraid to ask questions of experienced boaters or seek information from a trusted online source. At GemLux, we strive to serve boaters of all experience levels and provide the knowledge they need to maximize their time on the water. One of the main questions we receive from new boaters concerns marine-grade stainless steel and how it differs from traditional stainless steel.

Stainless steel is an iron-based alloy that’s used for a variety of useful, everyday objects, such as cookware, faucet fixtures, sinks, kitchen utensils, auto parts, and more. As its name implies, this material is resistant to stains and corrosion, making it ideal for marine applications. However, not all stainless steel is created equal, and the term itself is simply a generic one that describes several different types of alloys.

Below, we’re discussing everything you need to know about one specific variation of stainless steel: marine-grade stainless steel. Let’s take a look!

What Makes Marine-Grade Stainless Steel Different?

The 300-series stainless-steel alloys are most commonly used as marine metals. These alloys contain high amounts of chromium, molybdenum, and nickel. They are selected for use in marine environments because these components (particularly molybdenum) are most effective at protecting against saltwater corrosion. Boat fixtures that are frequently in contact with water are the most vulnerable to corrosion, which can cause significant problems for boat owners. Therefore, it’s essential to replace these products with marine stainless-steel alternatives wherever possible.

What Is Saltwater Corrosion?

Saltwater corrosion is a chemical reaction between the salt in the ocean water and the metals in the alloys that make up marine fixtures. Many people think of saltwater corrosion as merely being rust. However, while rust is one of the visible signs that corrosion has taken place, the damage is far more than cosmetic. Saltwater contains sodium chloride, and when this element is combined with moisture and oxygen, it literally eats away at the metal. This severely weakens metal parts and can even cause them to fall apart over time. Beyond rust, a telltale sign that a surface has been damaged by salt corrosion is a pitted appearance.

While corrosion can happen from contact with any type of water, saltwater is especially destructive. In fact, rust begins to show up five times faster in saltwater than it does when boats are in freshwater.

Boat parts that are extremely corroded present a safety hazard as well as an unsightly appearance. Corrosion also means higher maintenance costs, as you’ll need to replace all of the affected parts.

Preventing Saltwater Corrosion on Boats

Outfitting your boat with marine-grade steel components is the first step in protecting your vessel against damage from saltwater. However, there are several other strategies that should also be a part of your boat maintenance plan. Most importantly, you should always wash your boat thoroughly with freshwater and soap after each excursion on the ocean. Don’t be tempted to give it a quick hosing down – be sure to cover every inch of your vessel, paying extra attention to all metal components, whether they’re made of stainless steel or not.

GemLux Marine-Grade Maritime Applications

At GemLux, we feature products using only the finest available marine-grade stainless steel. Our deck hardware, steering wheels, and other products are designed with both form and function in mind to add to the overall aesthetic of your vessel while providing superior performance.

For more information about keeping your boat in the best possible shape with marine-grade stainless steel, contact us today!