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Stainless Steel Cookware 304 vs 316


Some stainless steel cookware companies in an effort to try and distinguish themselves from their competition promote the fact that they use 316 surgical stainless steel in their cookware rather than 304 surgical stainless steel. In the chart below is a direct comparison between 304 and 316 surgical stainless steel cookware.


Carbon 0.08% max. 0.08% max.
Chromium 18.0 to 20.0% 16.0 to 18.0%
Manganese 2.0% max. 2.0% max.
Silicon 1.0% max. 1.0% max.
Nickel 8.0 to 10.5% 10.0 to 14.0%
Molybdenum   2.0 to 3.0%
Tensile Strength (Ksi) 84-185 84-185
Yield Strength (Ksi) 42-140 42-140


Summary of differences:

1. 304 may have a higher Chromium content than 316 but not necessarily.

2. 316 may have a higher Nickel content but not necessarily.

3. 316 has 2-3% Molybdenum and 304 does not.


Does this show a reason for purchasing cookware with 316 surgical stainless steel cookware rather than 304 surgical stainless steel cookware? Absolutely not! You cannot see a difference when comparing side by side. You cannot taste a difference in food cooked in one over the other. One does not cook any better or faster than the other.


Is there a distinguishable difference in 304 vs 316 surgical stainless steel cookware?

Yes, 316 surgical stainless steel cookware costs more to manufacture.

In highly corrosive conditions like marine applications, 316 will outperform 304 however these harsh conditions do not exist in the kitchen environment.

316 is also preferred over 304 in high chloride conditions found in certain industrial applications and scientific research.


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