Austenitic stainless steels used in marine applications, contrary to popular belief, are not completely free from corrosion attack. The degree of surface oxidation is directly affected by local atmosphere and saltwater concentrations. All metals are subject to corrosion in some environments.
The choice, then, is one of economics or optimum performance. Gold would be an exceptional material, but practicality leads us to the non-magnetic high chrome/nickel grades of stainless steel. These alloys in the wrought condition have proven to be the most versatile in the "above water" marine environment.
Many factors contribute to corrosion and the protection from corrosion. The most noteworthy is the special characteristic that Stainless Steel has in its ability to form its own anti-corrosive coating, through an adherent oxide passive film. This natural resistance can only be accomplished in a clean, contaminant free and oxygen present surface. Our most helpful recommendation then is to give your Stainless Steel Hardware the same attention you would othermaterials on your boat. Regular fresh water washing with a mild non-abrasive cleaner will keep your Stainless bright and beautiful and should last far beyond the life of the boat.
Clean your stainless steel frequently with Yacht Brite Brite Wash and water. Any cleaner safe for glass is usually safe for stainless. Remove rust spots as soon as possible with Yacht Brite Buff Magic or a stainless steel, brass, silver and chrome cleaner. Irreversible pitting will develop under rust that remains on stainless for any period of time. Use a cleaner, like a Yacht Brite Serious Shine, for added beauty and protection.
Use coarse abrasives like sandpaper or steel wool on stainless. These may actually cause rusting. Never clean with mineral acids or bleaches, and never leave stainless steel in contact with iron, steel or other metals that can cause contamination leading to rust or corrosion.
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