Blue Steel vs. Stainless

Written by alex clark-mcglenn
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Blue Steel vs. Stainless
Stainless steel is stain-resistant but not stain-proof. (cooking image by feferoni from

Buying cookware isn't easy with so many choices. Stainless steel and blue steel pots and pans are both stain-resistant, but not stain-proof. And while their functions might be similar, in reality there are many differences between stainless steel and blue steel.

Blue Steel

Blue steel is not actually a steel. Instead, bluing steel is an oxidisation process that occurs when a metal is subjected to certain chemicals. You can blue any kind of steel. Bluing steel gives steel a slight protection from rust. However, bluing can be removed from excessive wear.


Stainless steel, unlike blue steel, is not treated in any way. Stainless steel is a steel alloy with 10.5 to 11 per cent chromium mass per content. There are many kinds of stainless steel and different grades for how the product will be used.


Blue steel is most commonly used by gun manufacturers. However, there is blue steel cookware. Gun companies blue their gun parts to give a small amount of rust protection to their product. However, blue steel is less rust- and stain-resistant than stainless steel. Stainless steel is used for everything from pots and pans to car parts and buildings.


There are two different kinds of bluing--hot bluing and cold bluing. Hot bluing is when potassium nitrate, sodium hydroxide and water are heated to a boil and then the metal is immersed in it for a period of time. To blue stainless steel, other mixtures of nitrates and chromates are used.

Cold bluing uses chemicals such as selenium dioxide to create a quick bluing process that private gun owners use for cosmetic touchups on their guns. Cold bluing does little to protect against rust, and fades over time.

Stainless Application

Stainless steel is a low-maintenance metal. Because of this, it is used in abundance. There are 150 different grades of stainless steel. Besides being a commonly found material in the kitchen, it has also served many art deco artists. It makes up a large portion of the Chrysler Building, as well as the Unisphere that was made for the 1964 World's Fair in New York. Many other art pieces around the world are made from stainless steel.

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