304 Stainless Steel Properties

In this article, we’re going to look at 304 stainless steel properties and what makes it such a popular choice across a range of applications. Before we get into the properties, have you ever wondered why steel is called ‘stainless’?

As you might expect ‘stainless steel’ is not really stain-free – the reason it is called ‘stainless’ is because it takes a much longer time to stain and eventually rust, compared to other metals. This is because stainless steel contains a significant amount of chromium (at least 10.5%).

Depending on the percentage of chromium present, stainless steel is classified into different grades – 304, 304L, 304H, 316 etc. The addition of chromium, and other elements like molybdenum, copper, nickel, phosphorous, titanium etc., alter the properties of stainless steel, and therefore, the type of steel used for an application depends upon the environment in which it would be used.

304 Stainless Steel is all around us. It’s used in a variety of products across many different sectors.

What is 304 stainless steel?

304 Stainless Steel is an austenite steel and contains between 16% and 24% chromium and up to 35% nickel. The most common type of 304 stainless steel is the 18/8 or 18-8 steel, which constitutes 18% chromium and 8% nickel. Additionally, it contains about 2% manganese, 0.1% nitrogen, 0.03% sulphur, 0.08% carbon, 0.75% silicon and 0.045% phosphorous. 304 stainless steel is the most popular and widely used grade of steel.

What makes it so popular among all grades of steel?

By looking at 304 stainless steel properties, it’s clear to see why it’s used in so many applications. It’s a versatile steel, and comes with many advantages, making it a popular choice with designers and manufacturers alike. It’s used in a wide range of engineering sectors.

304 Stainless Steel Properties

 Physical/Mechanical/Electrical/Thermal properties

Types of 304 stainless steel

304 stainless steel has two sub-categories – grade 304L and grade 304H. The grade 304L has lesser carbon content, and does not require annealing post-welding, and is therefore used in heavy gauge components. The grade 304H has a higher carbon content and is used in applications requiring high temperatures.

Dental tools made from 304 stainless steel

Applications and uses

304 Stainless Steel is all around us. It’s used in a variety of products across many different sectors. Here are just a few examples of some common uses:

The disadvantage of 304 Stainless Steel

Despite the versatile applications of 304 stainless steel, a major drawback is that it cannot be used in saline environments like near a coastline (a 316 stainless steel would be more appropriate in such conditions instead). The chlorine in these environments creates “pitting” – small areas of localized corrosion, which spreads beyond the protective chromium. In such environments, the 316 grade is used. This contains 16% chromium and 10% nickel, along with about 2-3% molybdenum, which offers resistance to corrosion, especially against chlorides.


304 stainless steel properties account for it’s popularity. It has a long shelf life and preserves its lustre over many years. It is easy to maintain and is economical. All these factors make it an ideal choice for a wide variety of applications.