Difference Between Nickel and Stainless Steel

Key difference – Nickel vs Stainless Steel

Nickel and stainless steel are two different types of metals and a difference between them can be noted based on their different properties and applications. The key difference between these two metals is, Nickel is a pure chemical element in d-block with some unique properties whereas stainless steel is a metal alloy containing iron, Chromium, and Nickel. The composition of those three elements vary in stainless steel; nickel contributes the least amount of quantity in composition. The pure Nickel oxidizes slowly at room temperature; therefore it is a relatively corrosion resistant element. Due to its corrosion resistance, it is used in the  production of corrosion resistant metal alloys. One of those examples is stainless steel.

What is Nickel?

Nickel is a chemical element (symbol Ni and atomic number 28) in the periodic table and a transition metal in the d-block. Nickel is used in many areas for industrial applications; for example, in buildings, water supply systems, electronic equipment, chemical industry, transport industry and medical equipment. The main reason for this wide range of application is due to its various characteristic properties. In other words, Nickel has a unique combination of properties; it is a ductile metal with a high boiling point (14530C), possesses magnetic properties at room temperature, and can be used as a catalyst for some chemical reactions.

Key Difference Between Nickel and Stainless Steel

What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is a metal alloy which is made using a combination of several metals; iron, Chromium, and Nickel. The main property of stainless steel is its corrosion and stain resistance; they are durable and used in many fields such as buildings, transport, food and beverage handling, chemical plants, and medical equipment. Stainless steel is durable, and it needs a low maintenance cost; therefore it is used in a large range of applications in many fields.

Difference Betwee Nickel and Stainless Steel

What is the difference between Nickel and Stainless Steel?

Composition of Nickel and Stainless Steel

Nickel: Nickel is a pure chemical element; it is also a member of transition metal group. Nickel has five naturally occurring stable isotopes; 58Ni, 60Ni, 61Ni, 62Ni, and 64Ni.  The most abundant isotope is 58Ni, and its natural occurrence is about 68.077%.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is a combination of iron (Fe), Chromium (Cr) and Nickel (Ni). In general, stainless steel contains a large amount of iron and less amount of Nickel (8%-10%). Chromium is the second largest element in its composition. The use of Nickel in stainless steel is not cost effective. Therefore, manufacturers try to use the minimum amount of Nickel.

Properties of Nickel and Stainless Steel

Nickel: Nickel possesses unique properties; for example it is a ductile metal with magnetic properties. It oxidizes slowly at room temperature, in other words, it is a stable element at room temperature and resists corrosion. Nickel has a high boiling point, and it can be used as a catalyst in some industrial scale chemical production.

Stainless Steel: The most predominant property of stainless steel is its corrosion resistance and resistant to stain. In addition, it is a strong metal and durable for many years with a low maintenance cost. Stainless steel is an environment-friendly product because it can be fully recycled.

Applications of Nickel and Stainless Steel

Nickel: The majority of Nickel production is used to produce Nickel steels; as a fraction, it is about 46% of total production. In addition, it is used to produce non-ferrous alloys and super alloys and in electroplating. There are several unique applications of Nickel; to produce magnets, coins, guitar strings, rechargeable batteries and microphone capsules.

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is used in producing cooking equipment, cutlery, household hardware, medical equipment and jewelry.

Image Courtesy:
“Nickel chunk” by Materialscientist at English Wikipedia.(CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons
“Stainless Steel Sheet Plate Strip Coil Circle” by Jatinsanghvi – Own work.(CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons