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Identifying Aluminum & Stainless Steel

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    Meadowview started this thread.
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    Identifying Aluminum & Stainless Steel

    I have a big old hunk of what I think is stainless steel in the form of swimming pool stairs. I thought I would try to apply the grinder spark test to confirm that it is stainless. The problem is that the amount of sparks created is very little and less than I would see with regular steel. I have to look very hard to see them. Is this normal for stainless?

    I tested some material I know is aluminum and could see no sparks at all. So I have reached the following preliminary conclusion regarding the grinder test:

    Regular steel = lots of sparks
    Stainless steel = just a few small sparks
    Aluminum = no sparks at all



    Is this right?

    Thanks!


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    hobo finds's Avatar
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    Mick's Avatar
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    Basically, yes.
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    I have found that Aluminum is very light in comparison to stainless steel so its pretty simple for the most part..

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    All you could need when it comes to the spark test.

    I never have really had a problem seeing sparks off of stainless steel. I don't consider it normal, and you should check to be sure of the type of alloy you have. If you were outside in bright sunlight, but if you were in a normal lit space it should be clear.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the pool latter is 316 stainless steel, because a pool latter is constantly in a chlorine environment, and so it needs the chlorine fighting Molybdenum of 316 stainless, aka Marine Stainless. At my yard 316SS pays $1.30 per pound, so it is worth checking out if your yard does the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIrrationalist View Post
    All you could need when it comes to the spark test.

    I never have really had a problem seeing sparks off of stainless steel. I don't consider it normal, and you should check to be sure of the type of alloy you have. If you were outside in bright sunlight, but if you were in a normal lit space it should be clear.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the pool latter is 316 stainless steel, because a pool latter is constantly in a chlorine environment, and so it needs the chlorine fighting Molybdenum of 316 stainless, aka Marine Stainless. At my yard 316SS pays $1.30 per pound, so it is worth checking out if your yard does the same.
    I'm tearing down some restaurant equipment. I cut a panel off and on the other side it said it's 316. How do I know what the other stuff is?

    Yard said he'd give me 80 cents/lb. If you're getting 1.30, I am thinking I should look around some more.

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    Meadowview started this thread.
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    Thanks to everyone for your help!

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    Yeah, thats probably a good idea. I'm getting 80 per pound for 304.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIrrationalist View Post
    All you could need when it comes to the spark test.

    I never have really had a problem seeing sparks off of stainless steel. I don't consider it normal, and you should check to be sure of the type of alloy you have. If you were outside in bright sunlight, but if you were in a normal lit space it should be clear.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the pool latter is 316 stainless steel, because a pool latter is constantly in a chlorine environment, and so it needs the chlorine fighting Molybdenum of 316 stainless, aka Marine Stainless. At my yard 316SS pays $1.30 per pound, so it is worth checking out if your yard does the same.
    Thanks for that post.

    Last year I sold a pool ladder as 304 stainless. I didn't even consider that it might be 316 stainless.

    Don't know if I'll ever come across another pool ladder.

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    pool acid is a good tester. put a drop on metal, if it bubbles its aluminum, if not, its stainless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trashman View Post
    pool acid is a good tester. put a drop on metal, if it bubbles its aluminum, if not, its stainless.
    Pool acid works as it is Hydrochloric acid. But for a more available source of Hydrochloric acid, I buy concentrated cement cleaner: Its usually a few dollars cheaper, and it can be found year round. Pool acid is only a seasonal item here. Read the ingredients to be sure of what you are buying.

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    What are the different types of stainless steel and how do you tell them apart? Im sure there is a different thread for this but couldnt find it. Any help appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andyheim View Post
    What are the different types of stainless steel and how do you tell them apart? Im sure there is a different thread for this but couldnt find it. Any help appreciated.
    Stainless Steel Information Knowledge | 18-8 | 304 | 316
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    The easiest way to tell is the gouging. Scrape it on some rough concrete or find a good tool to make some scrapes...Al gouges much deeper...SS is not as deep and much finer width scratches.

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    I notice that when I hit stainless with a grinder they seem to be finer "lighter" sparks (if you will) than normal steel


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