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Are Kitchen Sinks Magnetic? (Check if it’s Stainless Steel)

When you’re buying or selling a kitchen sink, many advise either the magnetic ones or non-magnetic ones are better. The possibility of magnetic sinks is a big question. And so is the full scope of what owning magnetic sink entails.

Are Kitchen Sinks Magnetic?

Kitchen sinks can be of magnetic and non-magnetic both. High-quality stainless steel sinks are non-magnetic. The main reason for magnetic properties in a sink is the amount of iron or ferromagnetic content present in the metal. The non-magnetic metal sinks are best as they are less prone to rust.

The amount of iron content in metals dictates how ferrous or non-ferrous it is. And ferrous metals tend to be ‘ferromagnetic’. Nickel, cobalt, and their alloys are also ferromagnetic because of their strong attraction to magnets. So, these metals will stick to magnets.

It also depends on the percentage of ferromagnetic content within the metal. A metal alloy with low iron content will not be magnetic overall. 

We might know plastics as non-magnetic materials. However, magnetic plastics do exist. The tech, food, automotive, and medical industries make use of their properties. This is possible due to binding ferromagnetic elements within the plastic structure. While innovative, their uses don’t extend to household appliances such as kitchen sinks.

Kitchen Sink Magnet Test, Does it Really work?

Many suggests to go for the magnet test to check if the sink is of stainless steel material or is it a good quality stainless steel sink or not. But the magnet test can not always give you the accurate answer.

Mostly, the high-quality stainless steel sinks have ferromagnetic content within the metal. It might also have a nickel coating on top of the sink to make it corrosion proof. Which makes the metal non-magnetic or slightly magnetic in few areas.

The magnet will only work for you if there is less ferromagnetic content present in the stainless steel material. Which also means, that the stainless steel sink with more magnetic activity is prone to corrosion.

How Can You Test if Sink Material Is Magnetic or Not?

What you’ll need:

  • A strong magnet
  • Clean sink

To test if your sink material is magnetic or not, do the following steps:

  1. Hover your magnet over the top surface of the sink and see if you feel an attraction. Go along the whole surface to be sure.
  2. Check if it sticks. If it does, then the top layer is magnetic.
  3. If the underside of your metal sink is not covered, check if the magnet sticks or falls off.
  4. Do it from a few different angles. If it doesn’t fall, the bottom layer is magnetic.

The reason you should check different parts of the surface is that the sink may be partially or only slightly magnetic. 

If it sticks right away, you can be sure there is a significant lack of nickel in the steel. This lack means the sink will be more likely to rust, as there is less corrosion resistance.

How to Tell if Your Sink Is Stainless Steel?

So, if you want to check whether a sink is made of stainless steel or not, you can try the following methods:

Look for the model number or serial number

If your sink has not become too battered or dulled, chances are the model number or serial number is still readable. Most commonly, these are engraved in ink or labeled on the underside of the basin. Then, you can search them up online or call the manufacturer for more information. 

Compare with another stainless steel appliance

If Step 1 didn’t work, the next best thing you can do is to compare it with a known appliance! You probably already have a stainless steel pot or knife lying around the house. Try and see if you can spot the following similarities:

Look at the shine

Stainless steel tends to keep its shine, even after washing. Other metals like aluminum dull a little after a trip in the dishwasher. You can check how the shine remains on your comparison element to gain a better understanding.

Check for sound.

Stainless steel has a loud ring. Try tapping it with a wooden spoon and compare it with non-stainless steel metal. But keep in mind that things like dimensions, shape, etc., affect the sound as well. 

Scratch with a key.

If you’re willing to compromise the appearance of your sink, try scratching the underside with a key. Stainless steel is a hard material, and most high-quality ones have scratch resistance.

Check with a magnet (least effective)

You can try the magnet test to see if your sink is made of stainless steel. This works best when you’re trying to figure out if your sink is not aluminum or other non-magnetic metals. If you’re sure the only magnetic material it can be is stainless steel, then, by all means, go for it.

If all else fails, you can always take it to a professional.

Know more about, what other materials are kitchen sinks made of.

Which Types of Stainless Steel Are Magnetic?

As a general rule, we see these three types of stainless steel as magnetic:

  • Ferritic Stainless Steel
  • Martensitic Stainless Steel
  • Duplex Stainless Steel

The main component you need to look for is the amount of ferrite. To be ferromagnetic, stainless steel needs to have ferrite in its composition. In simple terms, look for the amount of iron and iron compounds in the metal. 

The more ferrite a metal has, the more likely it is to be magnetic. However, it’s all about the ratios. Sometimes, because of too many austenitic elements present (which are essentially non-magnetic), the steel is not magnetic.

Which Stainless Steel Is Not Magnetic?

Austenitic stainless steel is not magnetic. These are chromium, nickel, and iron alloys (sometimes with manganese). Due to its structure, heat treatment, and the nickel present, they are non-magnetic. 

Some austenitic steel may be weakly magnetic. It depends on the cold work and formation of the steel.

How Can You Tell if Stainless Steel Is Good Quality?

Here are some ways to tell if your stainless steel is of good quality:

Check for the chromium and nickel ratios

No stainless steel is hundred percent corrosion proof. That’s not how chemistry works. However, typically austenitic stainless steels (with nickel) are considered ‘good quality’. This is due to its longevity and resistance to corrosion. Cold work strengthens these steels, making them very durable. And the nickel goes a long way in preventing rust. 

However, not all austenitic steels are made the same. You might find high-quality ferritic steel works better. 

Check the gauge (thickness)

Typically, thicker stainless steel is of higher quality. The unit of measure we use for the thickness of stainless steel is ‘gauge’. The exact numbers might differ according to your needs. For example, 16 or 18 is the recommendation for kitchen sinks. 

Assess the finish

Satin, matte-like finishes usually indicate higher quality steel due to scratch resistance. Though, this method isn’t the most accurate. Weaker steel can have the same finish. But high-end products tend to care more about the little things. 

Vinegar test

A cool (though risky) tip that might work for you is the vinegar test. Keep some vinegar in contact with the steel. Taste test some regular vinegar. Then, try the one in contact. 

If it tastes too different or like metal, then it’s probably not good quality steel. That’s because the acid in vinegar reacted with the steel. Good stainless steel is chemically unreactive.

What Grade Stainless Steel Is Best for Kitchen Sink?

With great compositions of chromium and nickel, the best stainless steel grades are 304 and 316.  

Grade 304 has an 18/8 mark, denoting 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It’s great for kitchen sinks overall.

Grade 316 has a 16/10 mark, denoting 16% chromium and 10% nickel (with 2% molybdenum for added resistance to salt-like chlorides). This is best if you’re expecting to use a lot of salt-water.

Generally, higher ratios of nickel indicate higher quality stainless steel because of its rust-resistant capabilities. 

Why Is Stainless Steel Good for Sinks?

These are the benefits of using stainless steel in sinks:

It does not rust

Of course, why else would we get stainless steel? It’s in the name! The rust resistance is its main attraction. And in sinks, where there is a lot of contact with water, it’s one of the best options.

It’s durable

The alloy is made to last. Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials for sinks. It’s hard to dent, and it won’t break, crack or chip off. 

It’s cost-effective

Whether you go for the locally priced or spend a large amount, you won’t regret it. Stainless steel delivers exactly what it says it does: durability and corrosion resistance. The higher quality you go for, the longer it will last.

It’s easy to maintain

With porcelain or plastic, it’s the norm for discoloration and scratches. That’s not the case with stainless steel. It is capable of standing strong against the harsh cleaning chemicals as well as wear and tear. The shine won’t fade easily, either.

It’s more versatile in design

Due to the inherent structure that makes stainless steel both flexible and strong, it allows for larger or more bowl-like designs. This reduces water splashing everywhere. Compared to cast iron or heavier metals, stainless steel is a winner in this department.

It’s not as noisy as you might think

Once upon a time, a noteworthy con of stainless steel was the loud clanging sounds it made. However, with modern tech and design that incorporates insulating pads, it’s not a worry. These days, stainless steel is also thicker, so they’re naturally more sound-absorbent.

It’s long-lasting, and therefore, more eco-friendly

Since it will last you 15 to 30 years, it’s a green and durable investment for your home.

Magnetic Stainless Steel Grades Chart

MartensiticYes400 series like 410, 420, 431, 440
FerriticYes400 series like 409, 430, 439, 444, 446
DuplexYes2000 series like 2304, 2102, 2205, 2507
AusteniticNo200, 300, 3000 series like 201, 202, 304, 316, 3095, 3105

There’s more than what meets the eye when it comes to the magnetic property of kitchen sinks. It can be an indicator of the quality of stainless steel. Knowing more about what makes or breaks a metal’s attraction to magnets helps us choose longer-lasting appliances for our homes.