IS THE STAINLESS STEEL MAGNET TEST FACT OR MYTH?
There are over 150 types of stainless steel and about 15 types that are commonly used. All stainless steels are iron-based alloys containing a minimum of about 10.5% chromium, which is extremely resistant to corrosion, and other alloying elements, such as nickel. The various combinations of elements give each type of stainless steel different characteristics, including the presence of magnetic properties. The “Stainless Steel Magnet Test” is a popular and easy way for consumers to supposedly test the grade of stainless steel used in a grill. The test states:
If the magnets attaches to the grill, then it is not made of high-grade stainless steel.
If the magnet does not attach to the grill, it is made of high-grade stainless steel.
However, this is a vast over-simplification, and can be very inaccurate. Don’t let the magnet deceive you!
304 Stainless Steel Magnet Test
One of the most desired and widely used grades of stainless on the market is grade 304 stainless steel. Durability and beauty have made 304 the hottest grade on the market. Found in Napoleon, Twin Eagle, and Viking products, it is a T300 Series Austenitic Stainless Steel and has a minimum of 18% chromium and 8% nickel, combined with a maximum of 0.08% carbon. This alloy is extremely durable, temperature resistant, and can provide a beautiful finish. It would seem that the stainless steel magnet test was made for this grade since it is not magnetic.
443 Stainless Steel Magnet Test
Grade 443 is another stainless steel that is not very common, but is gaining prestige as it proves itself in the industry. Used by the Japanese almost exclusively, it is a Ferritic alloy consisting of chromium and titanium, while extremely low in carbon. Together, these elements give 443 stainless steel a strong resistance to corrosion, especially against moisture and salt. Although most Ferritic alloys cannot compete with Austenitic alloys in terms of durability, the high level of chromium (the least corrosive metal on the planet) makes them more corrosion-resistant. Grade 443 also expands less with heat than 304, which means less stress and less warping. Summerset Grills are made with a combination of grades 304 and 443, taking advantage of each grade’s characteristics. The high levels of chromium in 443 does cause it to be magnetic, however, this does NOT mean it is a low quality stainless!
202 & 201 Stainless Steel Magnet Test
Some grills, such as the Sedona Grills by Lynx, are now using grades 201 and 202 stainless steel, which have recently become very popular. Although they are Austenitic alloys like 304, they do not compare to 304 in terms of durability and corrosion-resistance. They were created to cut the cost of Austenitic alloys by replacing most of the nickel with manganese or nitrogen. However, neither manganese nor nitrogen is nearly as resistant to corrosion as nickel. So, although these alloys are not magnetic, they do not stand up to the elements nearly as well as grades 304 or 443.
In conclusion, there is much more about stainless steal than its magnetic properties. Using the “magnet test” could lull you into tossing your high-quality grill that happens to contain some amount of grade 443, or it could mislead you into buying a lower quality grill made with grades 202 and/or 201. Therefore, before you trash your steel, do some research. You may find you’d rather trash your magnet!