camping

Steel in Camping Equipment: What is it Used For

Summer is officially here and that means it is time to get out and explore the world around us. Many people take advantage of the warmer weather by going camping. Did you know that steel is found on a lot of your must-have camping equipment? Let’s take a look at some steel camping equipment!

Campfire Grill or Portable BBQ Grill

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One of the more obvious places to find steel on your camping equipment is on your campfire grills and BBQ grills. Powder-coated steel and aluminized steel are the most common types of steel used for grills. These types of steel can withstand the heat from the fire and are very durable to help the grill last a long time.

Enamelware/Outdoor Dinnerware

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In case you prefer not to use disposable products, most outdoor dinnerware is also made out of steel. This is because steel is durable, easy to clean, safe to heat, and long lasting. Enamelware is metal that has been coated in a porcelain lining. It is also idea for camping because it is lightweight and budget friendly. It shouldn’t be too hard to find, either. Enamelware is incredibly trendy at the moment.

Coffee Pot

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If you’re anything like me, a hot beverage in the morning is a necessity. Especially when camping. Nothing completes a perfect morning of cool mountain air, watching the sunrise than a hot cup of Joe. So, you’ll need a metal coffee pot to place on the fire. Most camping coffee pots are made of stainless steel and may or may not come with an enameled layer.

Marshmallow Roasters

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One of the best parts of camping is starting a fire and roasting marshmallows. And, it today’s world you no longer have to search the woods for the perfect roasting stick that will possibly catch on fire halfway through your s’more making. Roasting sticks can be found at just about any big box store, grocery store, and many convenience stores. They are made from stainless steel with a wood, plastic, or rubber handle for safety.

These are just some of the places you can find steel in your camping equipment. If you look around, it is probably used in some way from your tent to your cooler. Now get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

To learn more about the types of steel Metalwest offers, contact your local sales representative.

school supplies

Steel in School: What it is Used For

It is back to school time for most of the country and that means school supplies, new classrooms, a new locker assignment, and the start of extracurricular activities. So, what does this have to do with steel? Well, lot’s actually!
Steel is used in a multitude of everyday objects, including school-related items.

School Supplies

While it is typically not used in a large quantity in school supplies, steel can still be found on quite a few items, including:

  • Notebooks
  • Pencil boxes
  • Around pencil erasers
  • Tape dispensers
  • Staplers
  • Teachers’ paper boxes
  • Water bottles

In the Classroom

Steel is also found throughout classrooms, whether it be a chemistry lab, biology classroom, or an English classroom. Places in a classroom you might find steel, include:

  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • The boarder around chalkboards, whiteboards, and bulletin boards
  • Window frames
  • Shelves
  • Lab equipment

Lockers

Lockers are completely constructed of steel (besides the combination dial). However you decorate (or decorated back in the day) your locker, it is all enhancing the chipped or faded paint covering the steel.

Extracurricular Activities

Steel can also be found in some extracurricular activities. Whether it is in sporting equipment like a tennis racket, a basketball hoop, a soccer goal, or even the bleachers, or you participate in service organizations, academic teams or clubs, steel can be found just about anywhere you look.

So now that you have a backpack filled with school supplies and are about to set off to find those new classrooms, you’ll know that steel is a big part of everyday life, even in school.

To learn more about the types of steel Metalwest offers, contact your local sales representative.

Stainless Steel Grills

The summer season is here and that means it is time to break out the grill. There are many different types of grills: charcoal, gas, electric, fire-pit style, etc., as well as many different manufacturers, price tags, sizes, etc. Grills are also made out of a variety of different metals. But one of the most common metals used is stainless steel.

Stainless Steel Grills

Stainless steel is a popular choice for grills for a few reasons.

  1. Well, it looks good. Stainless steel has a stigma attached to it that it is a high-end product and that stigma is mostly right. Your refrigerator looks fancier, your toaster looks fancier, and your grill looks fancier. If you keep it clean it sparkles and shines. A stainless steel grill definitely catches peoples’ attention.
  2. It’s easy to clean. Stainless steel isn’t dust, dirt, grease, or water-spot resistant, but it is easy to clean off the spots and make your grill shine again. Here are three ways to clean stainless steel appliances.
  3. It’s corrosion resistant. While there are different grades of stainless used for stainless steel grills and each grade has different levels of corrosion resistance, stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance. This is because chromium is added to the steel and reacts with oxygen to form chromium oxide. This gives it its corrosion resistant properties. Learn more about how stainless steel is made.
  4. Because of its corrosion resistance, it is also one of the most sanitary steels. Stainless is commonly used for food service equipment, medical equipment, processing equipment, etc., because of its sanitary benefits.

300 series stainless vs. 400 series stainless

Just because a grill (or other appliance) is stainless, does not mean it is a higher-quality product. A high-quality stainless steel grill is typically made from 300 series stainless grades, specifically 304 stainless. Because it has a higher nickel content and less steel in the alloy, 304 is higher quality and generally higher cost.

You will find 300 series stainless steel used for high-end grills. If you are unsure if the grill you are picking out is 300 series stainless, try the magnetic test. If the magnet sticks to the product, it is not a 304-grade stainless steel grill.

However, don’t be worried about purchasing a 400 series stainless steel grill. It is what fits within most people’s budgets and many grill manufacturers have changed to the 400 series to lower costs. Just make sure you do your research.

If you are choosing a 430-grade stainless grill, make sure you look for heavier gauge construction throughout. That will ensure it is holds up longer. Some manufactures also mix stainless grades in their construction. The lid may be a 304-grade, but the base might be 430.

If all else fails, wherever you are purchasing your grill from should have an expert to talk to.

For more information on the best stainless steel for your application contact your local sales representative.

Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? It Depends.

Have you ever wondered why you can stick a magnet on one stainless steel fridge, but not another? They are both stainless steel, so why doesn’t it stick to both? Well, the answer is in the makeup of the steel. So, let’s see if stainless steel is magnetic.

Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? The Type of Stainless Plays a Role

Ferritic

There are different families of stainless steel and all have different physical properties. A less expensive stainless steel would be considered a ferritic steel. Ferritic stainless steels typically have better engineering properties than their counterpart, austenitic, but have reduced corrosion resistance due to lower nickel and chromium content. This makes ferritic stainless steel magnetic.

Ferritic steels provide an advantage in many applications in which thinner materials or reduced weight are required. They are also non-hardenable by heat treating.

Typical applications for ferritic stainless steels include automotive and truck exhaust systems, catalytic converters, agricultural spreaders, heat exchangers, kitchen equipment, and roofing just to name a few.

Ferritic metals are classified in the 400 series. At Metalwest we commonly stock 409 stainless and 430 stainless steel products.

Austenitic

Austenitic stainless steels are the more common types of stainless. These grades have higher chromium and nickel content. The higher nickel content makes austenitic grades non-magnetic.

Austenitic steels are similarly non-hardenable by heat treating, but also have excellent formability and higher corrosion resistance.

These type of steels are commonly used for kitchen equipment, appliances, automotive trim, architectural applications, chemical equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, and much more.

Austenitic stainless steels are classified in the 200 and 300 series. At Metalwest we commonly stock 201 stainless, 301 stainless, 304/304L stainless, and 316/316L stainless steel products.

So, the next time you are shopping for a refrigerator be sure to bring a magnet. Higher quality (and typically more expensive) stainless steel appliances will not hold your alphabet magnet set. But unless you plan on placing your fridge out in the elements, you will most likely get along just fine with a ferritic stainless steel appliance. It’s still stainless after all.

For more information about our stainless steel products, contact your local sales representative.

How to Clean Aluminum Siding

With spring just around the corner and the weather looking up for parts of the country, it is time to think about cleaning up the outside of your house, office building, trailer, or wherever it is that is constructed of aluminum siding.

I recently took to cleaning the outside of my house which has painted-white aluminum siding and have found a few methods that worked wonders on clearing the hard water, grime, rust stains, etc.

Prepping the home to clean aluminum siding:

First you need to prep the area around where you plan to clean. Make sure windows are all closed, any rugs, furniture, décor, etc., are moved out of the way, and any delicate plants are covered or, if in a pot, moved to a safer location for the time being.

You’ll also want to make sure you wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. It is a very dirty job, trust me on this one.

Method 1: Power Washer

While I was doing research on the best methods to clean aluminum siding, use of a power washer seemed to be a common method.

When using a power washer, which you can typically rent or purchase from a local hardware store, be sure to use it on a lower setting to ensure you don’t dent or damage the siding.

The power washer, I found, is a great first step, but not necessarily the best way to remove rust stains. It got rid of the dirt and some of the hard water stains, but I still had to do more manual labor to remove the orange rust that was the real eye sore on my white siding.

Method 2: Detergent and Water Solution

This method removed a majority of the orange rust and all of the hard water stains.

What you will need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Warm water
  • Porous sponge or soft bristled brush (you can also use a push broom for hard to reach areas)
  • Old rags
  • Bucket (I just used a small 2 gallon bucket as it is all I have)
  • Hose

Cleaning process:

  1. Fill bucket with warm water and ¼ cup of laundry detergent.
  2. Start at the top and work your way down the siding. I did it in about five-foot sections. You might find that you just need the soft side of a sponge for the top half of the siding, but then need the porous side or bristle brush the more you work your way down.
  3. Work in a circular motion to ensure you get into the groves. This also varies the motion on the siding which will help to ensure you don’t start removing the paint. Going side to side along the grain may cause the paint to wear.
  4. After you have finished the section you have two options. 1) You can either move on to the next section if you were able to remove all the grime, or 2) you can go over what you just scrubbed with a rag and clean water to wipe the excess off.
  5. Once you have finished a whole side you can rinse the detergent and water solution off with a hose or power washer (on a low setting).

After doing this method, my house was almost sparkly white (I also have found that using some sort of tile cleaner with warm water works as well). However, I had a few stubborn areas I just couldn’t scrub off. So… on to method three.

Method 3: Paint

If both the above methods still don’t clean the siding, just repaint the siding. If you plan to do any painting be sure to get paint meant for outdoor and metal material use. Your local hardware store paint specialist should be able to point you in the right direction and give you instructions on how to prep, paint, and set it.

Can You Weld Steel and Aluminum Together?

The answer to whether you can weld steel and aluminum together is yes and no. OK, I’m sure you are even more confused now than you were before, but bear with me.

Let’s start with some chemistry, shall we? Aluminum and steel have different metallurgy and melting temperatures. Carbon steel, made up of iron and carbon, melts around 2500 degrees Fahrenheit while aluminum melts at 1218 degrees Fahrenheit. Through the process of arc welding, aluminum would be in a liquefied state by the time the steel begins to melt. Arc welding the two metals together would also create a brittle compound and would not create a strong fusion.

Now it may sound like there is no hope for welding them together. Oh, but there is. It is just a little more complicated.

Solid-State Welding

Solid-state welding is a process in which coalescence takes place at temperatures below the melting point of the two metals being welded together. Through solid-state welding, a filler metal, or brazing, is not necessary.

Here are some examples:

Diffusion Welding

Diffusion welding is a solid-state welding process that produces coalescence of the two metals by the application of pressure and elevated temperatures. This process works well for welding together dissimilar metals like aluminum and steel.

The process includes the two metals being pressed together at an elevated temperature, usually between 50-70% of the melting point and the process of diffusion occurs.

Explosion Welding

Another example of a solid-state welding process includes explosion welding. The process of explosion welding includes controlled detonations to fuse one metal surface to another. This process can join a wide variety of compatible and non-compatible metals together – more than other forms of welding. This makes it the ideal way to weld dissimilar metals together.

So, welding aluminum and steel together can be done. You just need to use a more complex method. There are other welding processes that could weld steel and aluminum together, but the aforementioned are two of the more common.

For more information about the aluminum and steel products we process contact your local sales representative. For more steel industry posts stay tuned to the Beyond Metal Buzz.

Chill Your Drinks with Stainless

Halloween is the unofficial mark to the holidays being “just around the corner.” The gathering together for parties, gifts, drinks, and food turns into a weekly affair during the holiday season.

However, with the parties comes constantly-need-to-be-filled ice buckets, watered-down drinks, and the possibility of a splattered beverage on a new white blouse.

So what do party mishaps have to do with steel, you may ask. Well, dear Buzz Readers, with this fun use for steel these party mishaps will be a thing of the past.

stainless steel ice cubes from BrookstoneStainless steel is known for its sanitary benefits which makes it an ideal candidate for an ice cube replacement. These little steel cubes are a modern day solution to your “on the rocks” drinks.

Stainless steel ice cubes prevent your aged scotch, fine whiskey, or sweet Irish cream from becoming diluted by melting ice. They also provide a longer lasting chill because each cube is filled with a non-toxic gel that holds the coolness in.

The prolonged chill prevents a host(ess) from having to refill ice buckets and guests from having to constantly plop more ice cubes in their drinks. This essentially helps to prevent the disaster of a beverage splattering onto a new shirt, tie, dress, or blouse because of a rouge ice cube.

The cubes are also reusable. After a wash, the cubes can be placed back into the freezer until ready for use.

So tell me, what will you be serving at your next party?

Photo courtesy of Brookstone.

3 Ways to Prevent Corrosion

What is Corrosion?

Corrosion is the gradual destruction and wasting away of metal. It is a natural process which is caused by a chemical reaction from the surrounding environment; the most common is oxidization.

Oxidization (a chemical reaction between iron and oxygen) results in rusting on the surface of the metal. But oxidization is just one example of corrosion. Other reasons metal corrodes include exposure to moisture, wind, and electrical currents.

OK. So now that we have covered the basic definition of corrosion, how do we prevent it from happening?

There are many ways to prevent corrosion, but in this post we are going to focus on three of the more common methods.

3 Ways to Prevent Corrosion

Environmental Impact

Corrosion is caused by chemical reactions between metal and environmental elements. By changing the environment the steel is exposed to, metal deterioration can be decreased.

This can include limiting the contact of the material to moister, wind, or outside air.

Choosing the Right Metal

The type of corrosion is only half the story. It also depends on the steel you choose for a particular application.

Aluminum, for example, is a corrosion resistant material. This makes it ideal for applications that will be exposed to the elements.

In stainless steel, the corrosion resistance depends on the different types of metals used to create it. The most commonly used types of stainless, 304 and 316, are both corrosion resistant.

Carbon steel, however, is iron based and susceptible to corrosion. Adding a protective layer like a zinc coating or paint, helps to make it more corrosion resistant.

Surface Treatments

Coatings

Coatings include painting and plating. They are used to protect metals from environmental elements. They work by providing a protective layer of corrosion-resistant material between the steel and the damaging environment.

Anodization

Aluminum alloys are often anodized. Anodizing makes a material more resistant to weathering and corrosion and is commonly used on metal applications where the surface will be in constant contact with the elements.

Galvanization

Galvanized metal is coated with a thin layer of zinc to protect it against corrosion. The zinc oxidizes when it is exposed to air creating a protective coating on the metal surface.

For more tips on preventing corrosion or to find a metal that is the best fit for your application contact your local sales representative.

Clean Stainless Steel: 3 Ways

We have talked a lot about our products lately – how they are made, what they are used for – but we haven’t spent any time on how you take care of metal once you have an end product. This is kind of important, don’t you think?

One of the most common metals that people need care instructions for is stainless steel. While it is a stainless steel that doesn’t mean it isn’t prone to fingerprints, dust, scratches, and streaks. And it may be no surprise to you that a big reason that stainless steel attracts all these blemishes is because the most common place for it is in your kitchen.

So, let’s discover ways to clean stainless steel!

Warm Water

Water can be, and is, used in most cleaning situations. However, the minerals in water can also leave behind marks on steel if you are not careful. Use a microfiber cloth with warm water to clean your stainless steel application. Microfiber cloths are great at absorbing all the water to ensure you don’t leave behind minerals and your stainless remains scratch free.

Make sure to rub the cloth in the direction of the surface finish of the stainless.

Stainless Steel Cleaner

Stainless steel cleaners are great if you have scratches or tough markings. Most cleaners also polish the stainless steel surface. However, not all cleaners are created equal. Here are three recommended cleaners based on my at-home refrigerator test.

Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish

Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner is a liquid spray that has quick cleaning capabilities and leaves your appliances with a polished finish. Spray it onto a microfiber cloth and buff in the direction of the finish. Wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.

Homax Stainless Steel Magic Aerosol

The Homax Stainless Steel Magic Aerosol works great on tougher messes. It is magic (see what I did there) on greasy refrigerator door handles, stoves, etc. It also doesn’t leave too much of a film after cleaning up the greasy mess.

Window Cleaner

Window cleaners like Windex shine windows and mirrors, so it is only natural that they would shine stainless steel as well. This is a great easy fix for fingerprints. When I’m expecting company and don’t have a lot of time to thoroughly clean my appliances, I squirt a little bit of Windex on a cloth and presto! The fingerprints are gone.