Quick Guide: Types of Elements Found in Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a type of metal alloy found in a number of forms. It is used to make light wall stainless steel tubing as well as pipes and several other things. It is a practical metal as it does not corrode with chemicals nor rust which causes most of the metallic things we use to get made of stainless steel. Components found in stainless steel include molybdenum, nickel, carbon, chromium, iron and quantities of different other metals.

Nickel and chromium

Chromium is what ensures stainless steel remains stainless. It is what creates a passive film to the metal to ensure it does not corrode. Other elements may add to the effectiveness of the film but none of them can really recreate the properties that enable the stainless steel to form fully. As you increase the percentage of chromium to your metal the passive film’s stability increases and the metal is protected better against wear and tear.

Nickel stabilizes the crystal structure of the steel and increases their properties and characteristics. A higher content percentage of nickel decreases the chance of the metal cracking due to corrosion or stress to the metal.


Manganese performs a lot of functions with nickel. It will interact with Sulphur found in the stainless steel in order to form manganese sulfites that increase resistance to corrosion. Substituting manganese for nickel and combining with nitrogen will increase the strength of the stainless steel.


Molybdenum when combined with chromium will stabilize the passive film when in the presence of chlorides. This makes it effectively prevent corrosion and crevice. Molybdenum and chromium provide a large increase in resisting corrosion in stainless steel.


Carbon increases the strength of the stainless steel. Adding carbon allows hardening of the steel when exposed to heat treatment which leads to stronger stainless steel.


Nitrogen stabilizes the structure of the stainless steel. It enhances the resistance to corrosion and strengthens the steel. The use of nitrogen allows for the increase of the molybdenum content to six percent that improves corrosion resistance whenever in chloride environments.

Niobium and Titanium

These two are used to reduce sensitization of the stainless steel. When the stainless steel is sensitized, corrosion can occur caused by precipitation of the chrome carbides as parts are cooled after welding. This depletes the weld area of chromium. Without this, the passive film will not be able to form and this will cause corrosion. Niobium and titanium react with carbon in order to form carbides so a passive film can form in the solution the chromium is left in.

Aluminum and Copper

Aluminum and copper and titanium when added to stainless steel precipitates its hardening. The three elements when put together form a bard microstructure as the soaking process continues at elevated temperature.

Selenium and Sulphur

Selenium and Sulphur when added with Stainless Steel gives it the ability to mold freely. This results in it being used to make a wide range of parts including light wall stainless steel tubing.