Did you know that stainless steel does not have an official fire rating? This is because stainless steel is a highly fire-resistant material. When deciding on materials to use in construction for fire resistance, stainless steel continuously outperforms other metals.
How Stainless Steel Resists Fire
The main protection against fire for stainless steel is its chromium content. Chromium reacts with oxygen in the air to form a protective layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the stainless steel. This layer prevents oxygen from reaching the underlying metal, and we all know how a fire needs oxygen to start and continue to burn. Not only does this chromium oxide layer prevent burning but it also prevents rust and corrosion.
In addition to its fire resistance, stainless steel also has a number of other advantages that make it a good choice for fire-related applications. These include:
- Durability: Stainless steel is very strong and durable, and it can withstand high temperatures and repeated exposure to fire without losing its strength or shape.
- Corrosion resistance: Stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion, even in harsh environments. This means that it can be used in areas where there is a risk of fire without the need for additional protection.
- Low maintenance: Stainless steel requires very little maintenance and cleaning, which can save money over the life cycle of the application.
As a result of its fire resistance, durability, corrosion resistance, and low maintenance, stainless steel is a popular choice for a variety of fire-related applications, including:
- Building construction: Stainless steel is often used in the construction of buildings, including facades, fire escapes, stairwells, railings and other areas where fire safety is important.
- Industrial applications: Stainless steel is used in a variety of industrial applications where fire safety is important, such as oil and gas production, chemical processing, food & beverage and manufacturing.
Stainless Steel compared to Galvanized Steel in Fire Applications
When it comes to fire resistance, stainless steel is generally considered to be superior to galvanized steel. The layer of chromium oxide in stainless steels is very heat-resistant, which means that stainless steel can withstand high temperatures without melting or deforming.
Galvanized steel is a type of steel that is coated with a layer of zinc. The zinc coating protects the underlying steel from corrosion by reacting with oxygen instead of the steel. However, the zinc coating will eventually wear away, exposing the underlying steel to corrosion.
In a fire, the zinc coating on galvanized steel will melt at a temperature of 420 degrees F or more. Once the zinc coating melts, it will vaporize and create a thick, white smoke. This smoke can be harmful to breathe and can also obscure visibility, making it difficult to escape a fire.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, will not melt or vaporize in a fire. This means that stainless steel will not produce harmful smoke or fumes, and it will also not lose its structural integrity. As a result, stainless steel is considered to be a safer material to use in fire-prone areas.
In addition to its fire resistance, stainless steel also has a number of other advantages over galvanized steel. Stainless steel is stronger, more durable, and more resistant to corrosion than galvanized steel. Stainless steel is also more recyclable than galvanized steel, which makes it a more environmentally friendly and sustainable choice.
Stainless Steel compared to Aluminum in Fire Applications
Stainless steel and aluminum are both commonly used materials in a variety of applications, including fire-related applications. Overall, stainless steel is a better choice for applications where high temperatures are present. There are some key differences between the two materials when it comes to their fire resistance.
- Melting point: Stainless steel has a much higher melting point than aluminum. The melting point of stainless steel is typically around 2500 degrees Fahrenheit, while the melting point of aluminum is around 1220 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that stainless steel can withstand much higher temperatures than aluminum before it starts to melt.
- Heat conductivity: Aluminum is a better conductor of heat than stainless steel. This means that aluminum will heat up more quickly than stainless steel when exposed to the same amount of heat.
- Corrosion resistance: Stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion than aluminum. This is because stainless steel contains chromium, which forms a protective layer on the surface of the metal that prevents corrosion.
Solutions for your Fire Related Construction Projects
With our production technologies and fabrication capabilities, Stainless Structurals can provide the steel solution for your project’s needs. This includes structural stainless steel profiles for fire related applications. Our team is ready to help. Please contact us today for more information on stainless steel profiles, carbon steel profiles, laser welding, polishing, fabrication and more!