Difference Between Silver and Stainless Steel

Main Difference – Silver vs Stainless Steel

Steel is a metal alloy of iron and carbon along with some other elements. Stainless steel is one of the four major forms of steel. Stainless steel is added with a higher amount of chromium to make it corrosion resistant. Silver is a chemical element. It occurs as a pure metal in nature because it is very stable in the presence of oxygen and water. The main difference between silver and stainless steel is that silver is corrosion resistant but tarnished when exposed to air whereas stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion and tarnishing.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Silver
      – Definition, Chemical Properties, Metallic Properties
2. What is Stainless Steel
      – Definition, Chemical Properties, Different Types
3. What is the Difference Between Silver and Stainless Steel
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Alloy, Chromium, Corrosion, Metal, Silver, Stainless Steel, Steel

Difference Between Silver and Stainless Steel - Comparison Summary

What is Silver

Silver is a chemical element that has the atomic number 47 and the symbol Ag. Though its name is silver, it is given the symbol Ag because the Latin word Argentum means silver. Silver can be found as a pure metal in nature. It can be found as a metal alloy with gold or other metal elements and as a component in some mineral compounds. The atomic mass of silver is 107.86 amu. The electron configuration is given as [Kr]4d105s1.

Silver is a very shiny metal. Therefore, it can be used in the production of mirrors, telescopes, etc. A polished surface of silver can reflect about 95% of incident light. Silver can be found in nature in two forms: as the pure metal or as a metal alloy with gold. Silver metal is not toxic, but silver salts can be toxic. The ductility of silver seconds only to that of gold. Silver is one of the best electrical and thermal conductors. It is resistant to corrosion and is stable in the presence of oxygen and water. But when kept exposed to air, the surface is tarnished due to the reaction between sulfur compounds and silver.  

Difference Between Silver and Stainless Steel

Figure 1: Silver Coins

Among the chemical reactions of silver, the formation of metal halides is a common reaction. Silver chloride, silver bromide, and silver iodide are precipitates. Therefore, it can sometimes be used to find out the presence of silver ions in a solution. Silver forms coordination compounds as well.

What is Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a type of steel. Hence, it is also a metal alloy. It is a mixture of iron and chromium. Unlike the carbon content in normal steel, the chromium content of stainless steel is about 30%. Other elements such as copper, molybdenum, and titanium may be also present in stainless steel.

The most desired property of stainless steel is its corrosion resistance. Unlike normal steel, it does not undergo corrosion; therefore, rusting is absent. This property makes it useful in the production of kitchen and healthcare products because it is safe to be used in moist environments. It also has a high heat resistance, making it suitable for the production of kitchen items. Stainless steel has a more attractive appearance than normal steel.

Main Difference - Silver vs Stainless Steel

Figure 2: Stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion. Therefore it is safe to be used to make kitchen items.

According to their properties, stainless steel is also divided into sub-groups as follows.

  • Duplex stainless steel
  • Martensitic stainless steel
  • Ferritic stainless steel
  • Austenitic stainless steel

Duplex stainless steel is named as such due to the presence of two phases of microstructures together. The two forms are ferritic structure and austenitic structure. The composition is roughly 50% ferritic and 50% austenitic. This makes duplex steel twice stronger than regular ferritic or austenitic. Martensitic stainless steel is composed of about 12% chromium. Generally, this steel is tempered and hardened. Ferritic stainless steel has a high amount of chromium and a low amount of carbon. The microstructure of ferritic stainless steel is body-centered cubic (BCC) grain structure. Austenitic stainless steel is known as non-magnetic steel. It contains a high level of chromium and nickel along with a low amount of carbon. This form of stainless steel has face-centered cubic (FCC) crystal structure in its microstructure.

Difference Between Silver and Stainless Steel

Definition

Silver: Silver is a chemical element that has the atomic number 47 and the symbol Ag.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a metal alloy made out of iron, chromium, and carbon.

Corrosion

Silver: Silver is resistant to corrosion but the surface is tarnished when exposed to air.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion due to the presence of chromium.

Occurrence

Silver: Silver can be found in nature as either pure metal or as a metal alloy with gold.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a man-made metal alloy.

Electrical and Thermal Conductivity

Silver: Silver is one of the best electrical and thermal conductors.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel can conduct electricity and heat, but not as well as silver.

Reflection of Light

Silver: Silver can reflect about 95% of incident light.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel can reflect light less than silver.

Conclusion

Silver is a chemical element. It is a metal and can be found in the pure metal form in nature. Stainless steel is a man-made metal alloy that has many advantages such as high corrosion resistance. The main difference between silver and stainless steel is that silver is corrosion resistant but tarnished when exposed to air whereas stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion and no tarnishing takes place on the stainless steel surface.

References:

1. Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “10 Silver Facts – Chemical Element.” ThoughtCo, Apr. 27, 2017, thoughtco.com/interesting-silver-element-facts-603365.
2. “Stainless steel.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Nov. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stainless_steel.

Image Courtesy:

1. “1072324” (Public Domain) via Pixabay
2. “Stainless Steel Fork Beside Rolled Paper Towel With Parsley on Top” (CC0) via PEXELS

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

Leave a Comment