Melting stainless steel: a good idea?

Time and again, do-it-yourselfers ask if they can also melt stainless steel. Basically, this is possible with the right equipment. However, the quality of the remelted stainless steel will always deteriorate. To understand this, we have summarized some important aspects that are important in melting stainless steel.

What steel or stainless steel is

It starts with the fact that we first have to define steel. Steels are alloys that can also be forged and otherwise deformed. This distinction to other metal products has existed for many centuries and today had the same basic meaning as several hundred years ago.

Properties by different alloys

Steel as well as stainless steel are alloys. That is, the "basic source" iron other metals are added in a certain amount - it is alloyed. Different properties can be set by means of different alloys (admixture ratios of other metals):

  • stainless
  • brittle or soft
  • hard or less hard
  • form an oxide layer on the surface

Stainless steel does not have to be stainless

There is a widespread belief that stainless steel must be stainless steel. It is not so. There are also stainless steels that are not stainless. The fact that stainless steel does not become rusty can be adjusted by certain alloys, for example nickel or chromium. Chromium steel forms a layer of chromium oxide on the surface, which is why the steel below can not corrode.

When melting, carbon is released

Without going too deeply into the matter, carbon is also released when melting stainless steel. In addition, the basic stainless steel properties are influenced, for example, by the addition of oxygen - including the carbon content. With increasing carbon content, a steel becomes more porous and thus more brittle.

Already the annealing changes the material properties considerably

You do not even need to melt stainless steel to experience this negative impact of stainless steel. It is sufficient if you brush or grind stainless steel and do something wrong.

As soon as the stainless steel begins to glow during mechanical processing (or of course during heating), carbon is released. This can not only lead to higher porosity, but corrosion in otherwise stainless steel.

The melting point of stainless steels

The melting point of stainless steel is also not uniform, after all, stainless steel is not the same stainless steel, but starts at around 1,300 degrees. The absolute melting point is reached upon reaching the melt of the highest melting point alloy. However, as already written, the contact with oxygen has an impact and slag is created which has to be tapped.

Melting in a hobby or as a DIY stainless steel

Of course, stainless steel can melt. In DIY but not for demanding technical applications, where the properties of stainless steel must comply with the respective DIN EN, so that the present stainless steel is ever approved for this application. The only way they could melt steel or stainless steel around a home improvement would be to make jewelry out of it.

Furnaces for jewelery production

In addition, you will get specialized small smelting furnaces, which reach at least 2,000 degrees Celsius, with which you could even melt titanium. However, the amount of fusible stainless steel or metal in the reg is limited to 0.1 liter. Not to mention the costs, which may well exceed 10,000 euros.

Other important processes of stainless steel

For other applications, certain material properties need to be adjusted by further mechanical processing after the stainless steel has been melted. This includes rolling or forging. Both changes the alloy structure mechanically. Not to mention the already mentioned thermal changes of the structure by heating.

Tips & Tricks

If you need a stainless steel component for a specific application that needs to be manufactured individually, you should contact a suitable molten steel or steel processing company. By the way, arc furnaces are used to melt stainless steel today. The energy that must be used to melt stainless steel corresponds to the power consumption of a small town.

Video Board: Steel melt in Home Brick furnace.