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Surplus Pipe: Uses of Stainless Steel

Some types of surplus pipe are made of stainless steel.  While most people associate items like cutlery, tool boxes and sinks with this material, many other uses for stainless steel have emerged since its origin.

What Exactly is Stainless Steel?

The discovery of stainless steel was an accident, according to About.com.  In 1913, an English metallurgist working on a rifle barrel project noted that when he added chromium to low-carbon steel, the steel inherited a resistance to stains.

Stainless steel today contains carbon, chromium, iron and a variety of additional elements like niobium, molybdenum, titanium and nickel that make it corrosion-resistant.  The chromium component merges with atmospheric oxygen and produces a passive film that protects the steel.

Manufacturers produce stainless steel in a number of textures and finishes they can tint in a variety of colors.  The metal is strong and versatile and is the primary material in a number of industrial products like surplus pipe.


Stainless steel came about after the efforts of several individuals. In 1821, a Frenchman found that alloying chromium with iron created resistance to certain acids, The Stainless Steel Information Center reports.  Others who experimented with the alloy eventually concluded that to produce stainless steel, the combination of elements must contain at least 10.5 percent chromium. 

In 1875, a French scientist discovered the importance of adding carbon to the chromium.  However, most consider British researcher Harry Brearley the initiator of stainless steel’s industrial era in the early 1900s.  Brearly’s first product was table cutlery still being used today.

Many Uses

Stainless steel products enjoy popularity because of their many benefits.  The chromium in stainless steel protects it from corroding or deteriorating in a range of temperatures, according to Techno Steel.  In addition, products are easy to clean and generally cost little to service.

Tubes and pipes made of stainless steel are part of every home and office.  They come in a variety of shapes, especially rectangles and circles.  Some artists have made stainless steel pipes a recognized art form.  Steel dealers sell surplus pipe because stainless steel is easy to recycle by re-melting it to make new items.

The International Molybdenum Association says that a primary use of stainless steel is in water distribution systems.  Pipelines containing this material resist corrosion to water, chemicals used in water treatment and various types of soil chemistry.  These pipes must have a long service life and be able to deliver safe drinking water. 

Using stainless steel in water delivery products offers even more industrial and consumer benefits.  The material has higher-level mechanical properties than those of cast iron and carbon steel pipes, allowing the use of thinner pipe in building walls and saving money. 

Stainless steel is an adaptable material that’s easy to form, machine and weld.  This makes it easy to manufacture a variety of products and to install and modify pipelines.  It also simplifies maintenance.  Since stainless steel pipe is recyclable as surplus pipe, users can even recover a portion of their initial cost.

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