The steels most commonly used in cooking utensils are stainless steels, especially austenitic stainless steels. These are essentially chrome-nickel alloys that may contain elements such as molybdenum, titanium etc. that influence their rust-resistance properties.
Austenitic stainless steels have a significant ductility which makes them particularly suitable for deep draw stamping. One of the most widely used is AISI 304 steel, also known as 18/8 stainless steel or 18/10, which nominally contains 18% chromium and 8-10% nickel.
They also possess excellent resistance and hardness qualities and, in terms of the finished product, offer superior mechanical and superficial properties when compared to aluminium. However, the poor thermal conductivity of stainless steel leads to frequent problems of overheating of the walls in direct contact with the flame which may cause the food to burn.
The thermal conductivity of austenitic stainless steel is equal to 15 W/m K while that of aluminium is equal to approximately 230 W/m K.

To overcome this scarce ability to distribute heat, steel cookware is often equipped with aluminium heat diffusing bottoms that are encapsulated or welded to the bottom of the piece.
The ability to transmit heat to the walls of the utensil is limited.
Stainless steel pans are especially used for cooking techniques in which heat is transmitted from water, such as boiling, due to the low thermal conductivity of the metal. The specific weight of steel is about 7.8 kg/dm³, almost 3 times greater than that of aluminium (2.7 kg/dm³). This characteristic limits its manoeuvrability: a stainless steel pot weighs three times more than an aluminium pot of the same size and thickness.
Laws and regulations related to steel: Italian Ministry Decree no. 258 of 21 December 2010 published in the Italian Official Gazette no. 28 of 4 February 2011.

Guide to the choice of materials for the cooking of food

All the materials mentioned in this guide are regulated by the following laws, directives and guidelines that can be downloaded from the following links of the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and the COE (Council of Europe): downloadable at the following link:

EFSA COE Download the pdf guide