What Do the Numbers Mean on Stainless Flatware?

Look over the surface of your stainless steel flatware and you will likely find a number stamped at the base of the handle.

Composition and Markings

Flatware is marked to indicate composition and quality.Flatware is marked to indicate composition and quality.
These numbers reveal the blend of materials used in your flatware's stainless steel and are also an indicator of quality.

Stainless steel is a composite of other metals. Flatware manufacturers utilize several different compositions of stainless steel to produce wares of varying quality. The most common numbers you will find on stainless steel flatware are 18/10, 18/8, 18/0 and 13/0.

Chromium

The first number refers to the percentage of chromium in the stainless steel used to make your flatware. Eighteen percent is the industry standard and ensures that your flatware will be resistant to corrosion and pocking. Lower quality flatware contains 13 percent chromium and is marked with 13/0

Nickel

The second number refers to the percentage of nickel contained in the stainless steel composite. It reveals more to you about the quality of your flatware. A higher percentage of nickel is desired, as it means the steel will be more durable and more lustrous over time. There is no difference in 18/10 and 18/8, as both come from the same grade of steel which contains between 8 and 10 percent nickel. The absence of nickel is marked as 18/0 or 13/0.

About the Author

Nadia Nygaard has been writing and editing since 2005. She is published in "Farm and Ranch Living" and has edited projects as diverse as grant proposals, medical dissertations and tenant law handbooks. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in English and women's studies.