Posted by Patrick Maness
When it comes to selecting flatware, by far the most popular type of material that businesses choose is stainless steel. But not all stainless steel restaurant flatware is the same. The vast majority come in one of four grades, each grade differentiated by how much chrome and nickel it contains.
Which stainless steel grade is best for you depends on your customer volume, the style of restaurant or operation you run and your budget. The following guide will help you make sense of the grades and decide which is most appropriate for your needs.
13/0 (13 percent chrome) – Containing the minimum amount of chrome to still be dubbed “stainless steel,” this is the least expensive grade. This is best used in large institutional settings where quantity is more important than quality. The absence of nickel has the added advantage of making this grade of flatware magnetic, so it can be easily retrieved from the garbage.
18/0 (18 percent chrome) – Often used in foodservice settings such as cafeterias or low to medium-range restaurants, it’s safe in high or low temperatures, resists corrosion and has a nice, long-lasting luster. Many restaurateurs have found that the increased weight of this grade adds a sense of quality without the cost.
18/8 (18 percent chrome and 8 percent nickel) – The nickel in this grade makes it more resistant to corrosion and adds a distinct shine. The nickel, however, also causes it to lose its magnetism, so it will not work with magnetic retrievers. If you have the means to maintain the shine and don’t foresee many pieces being stolen, lost or thrown away, high-quality flatware with nickel alloy brings you closer to the quality found in silver-plated utensils.
18/10 (18 percent chrome and 10 percent nickel) – This is usually the most expensive grade of stainless steel flatware and only gets better with age. Over time it develops a patina, or shiny finish, making it a great choice for high-end restaurants and eateries.
If you're thinking about updating your flatware, checkout our blog on that very topic. Also, if you haven't done so already, be sure to download our complete guide to flatware, which has all the tips and secrets you need to make your next purchasing decision.
Read other articles in this series: