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“Stainless” steel is actually a generic term referring to a variety of steel types. Like all other kinds of steel, stainless steel is made primarily from iron and carbon in a two-step process. What makes stainless steel different is the addition of chromium (Cr) and other alloying elements such as nickel (Ni) to create a corrosion-resistant product.
Steel corrodes because iron, the metal used to make steel, occurs in nature in combination with other elements. When iron ore is artificially manipulated into a pure form to make steel, it becomes unstable and will readily recombine with oxygen.
When chromium is added to steel, it forms chromium oxide, which acts as a protective surface to prevent air and moisture from causing rust, as happens with ordinary steel. Chromium is added in quantities ranging from 10.5 to 30%, depending on the application or environment in which the steel is to be used.
Source : https://www.thermofisher.com/blog/metals/what-is-stainless-steel-part-i/