Are you remodeling your food truck and you are wondering what type of steel sheets to use? If YES, here are the best food grade of stainless steel sheets for food trucks. Stainless steel sheet more commonly means the thin metal sheets of stainless steel up to 6mm thick. Pieces thicker than 6 mm (0.25 in) are generally referred to as plate, though this definition tends to differ from supplier to supplier and also in different areas.

Stainless steel is an incredibly useful material in the food service industry due to its strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. Among food grade stainless steel there are a variety of types, and knowing their different properties and uses can help you make an informed purchase.

Uses of Stainless Steel Sheet

These steel sheet products are also used in both consumer and industrial applications where the corrosion resistance, heat resistance or design characteristics of stainless steel are required. These sheets are often used in the manufacture of factory equipment and assembly line machinery for fabricating other products. Because of its attractive appearance, it is also used in construction.

These sheets are also seen in lift doors and on escalators, and their excellent corrosion resistance makes it a wonderful material for creating exterior decorations and ornaments on buildings. Note that corrosion resistance is also a primary reason why stainless sheet is greatly used for chemical processing, water treatment and brewing.

Other applications of this highly-versatile sheet metal are in consumer products, such as kitchen appliances/equipment and also in medical equipment, where a clean and sterile environment needs to be maintained.

Stainless steel sheet and strip products, like stainless steel plate, are flat-rolled and can be sold in any of several conditions. But note that before the product can be used for any corrosion-resistant application, it is expected to be heat treated to soften the steel (a process called annealing) and also descaled or pickled with acid which removes the surface oxide giving the resulting metal a white appearance.

At this point, the product is referred to as white band or hot-rolled, annealed and pickled (HRAP) coil. Producing cold-rolled sheet involves further processing with the aim of achieving tighter tolerances, better surface quality and reduced thickness. And unlike carbon sheet and strip, the vast majority of stainless steel sheet and strip is sold as a cold-rolled product.

Foil, which is known as the thinnest of flat-rolled stainless steel product (as thin as 0.13 mm / 0.005 inches) is produced by further reducing already cold-rolled material in a cold-rolling mill that is specifically tooled to achieve the required thinness.

Note that the same mills employed by producers of foil are of the same type as those used by producers of cold-rolled stainless steel sheet and strip, the difference being the size and speed of rolls used along with the number of extra passes the material undergoes during processing.

Grade Systems for Stainless Steel

In the United States, there are various types of stainless steel, and the differences can vary greatly between types. However, to better differentiate between types of stainless steel, they are split up into grades. There are many different grading systems that are used by different countries and in different settings. But in the United States food service industry, there are two stainless steel grades that you should know of.

1. SAE Grades

Note that this grading system is implemented by SAE International, an organization of engineers that creates standards for professionals in various manufacturing industries. Note that to differentiate between stainless steel grades, their system uses whole numbers to categorize the different types.

You may also see this grading system called the AISI system, which refers to the American Iron and Steel Institute, which originated this system, although it’s now updated and regulated by SAE International.

  1. 200 Series Stainless Steel: Stainless steel in the 200 series is lower in quality and less corrosion resistant than other types. It still has its place in a commercial kitchen and trucks thanks to its affordability
  2. 304 Series Stainless Steel: 304 series stainless steel is the most common type used in the kitchen. It has a bright shine due to a high level of chromium and nickel. It’s also very resistant to corrosion and rust, although it’s susceptible to corrosion caused by exposure to salt.
  3. 316 Series Stainless Steel: This is the second most common type of stainless steel, and its alloy includes an additional element, molybdenum, which increases its resistance to corrosion caused by salt and other chemicals.
  4. 430 Series Stainless Steel: 430 series stainless steel contains a very small amount of nickel, and it’s not as corrosion resistant as the 300 series steels. This type is also magnetic.
  5. 440 Series Stainless Steel: With a high level of carbon, 440 series stainless steel is one of the strongest types used in the kitchen. Products made out of 440 series stainless steel are hard, corrosion resistant, and can stand up to wear and tear very well.

2. Flatware Grades

Another system used in the United States food industry to organize stainless steel grades is the flatware grading system. Note that this system uses ratios such as 18/0, 18/8, and 18/10 to describe the levels of nickel and chromium in food grade stainless steel. Chromium and nickel are the two most important elements for flatware, as they affect the corrosion resistance, shine, and magnetism of the steel.

  1. 13/0 Stainless Steel: 13/0 stainless steel is used to make knives. Because this steel contains less chromium and no nickel, it’s softer, allowing manufacturers to add serration to the edge.
  2. 18/0 Stainless Steel: 18/0 stainless steel is a medium-quality option, and it’s one of the most affordable choices. It’s not as corrosion resistant as higher flatware grades, but it’s magnetic. Because it’s magnetic, it can get caught by magnets in conveyor dishwashers and trash bins, helping to prevent it from being discarded.
  3. 18/8 Stainless Steel: 18/8 is one of the most common types of flatware. This stainless steel has a hefty, professional feeling, and it’s very corrosion resistant. Pieces made from this stainless steel usually have some sort of decoration or design.
  4. 18/10 Stainless Steel: This is the highest-quality flatware you can get. 18/10 offers superior corrosion resistance. Additionally, this flatware usually has unique and interesting designs or engravings on the handles.

3 Major Reasons to Use Stainless Steel in Your Food Truck

Food industry grade stainless steel is a safe, easily sanitized material when installed properly inside your food truck. Also, it helps to enhance and protect the exterior of your food truck. However, here are few important reasons to install stainless steel materials on your food truck.

1. You Meet Strict Regulations in Some States

Note that in states like South Carolina, every mobile food business is expected to legally have two parts. One segment of the business is the commissary where employees store and sometimes prepare food. The second component of the mobile food business is a mobile unit (or several) where employees prepare, cook, and serve food to the public.

Although vary for the two branches of the mobile-food business, but stainless steel is one approved material for specific portable kitchen applications. It is advisable to always use the strictest state rules to fabricate your food truck.

For example, in Chicago, using any rubber tubing for propane gas lines in food trucks or trucks is illegal. All lines are expected to be hard-lined and made of steel or copper materials. Investing in stainless steel features now can mean more sales in the future.

2. Ultimate Fire Protection

Whether you serve hot dogs or pizza, fire protection is a crucial factor in your food truck. Most states’ food truck codes require the use of non-flammable material for all wall surfaces behind any cooking line. This includes walls behind: Woks, Fryers, Grills, Countertop ovens or broilers, and Stoves.

Stainless steel is well renowned as a great non-flammable choice for your food truck’s walls. It is pertinent you consider placing stainless steel on all interior walls, floors, and ceilings for enhanced fire safety.

3. Rodent Free

For places like New York City or Chicago, rodents and mice are a great problem. Not just these places, but too many other places in the United States. If you park your food truck in winter, rodents target it for warmth and sustenance. Rats and mice can chew through wood, plastic, and even some thinner metals.

Rodents also damage food trucks and trucks by nesting in: Engine compartments, Ductwork and exhaust hoods, Stoves and fryers, Dry storage areas, Taillight covers and lamp-access spaces. Also note that if your food truck has rust holes, dangling wires, rocker panels, or side vents, a rat or mouse can make its way inside your food truck.

Therefore, leveraging durable stainless steel on the outside of your food truck is one way to keeps rodent from chewing their way inside. Have it in mind that a stainless steel food truck exterior deters rats from chewing their way inside the mobile unit. Place metal or mesh covers over your tailpipe and ductwork, seal all cracks and crevices, and remove all food ingredients from your truck for extra measure.

Conclusion

Stainless steel is a versatile metal and can be used for different things ranging from construction to kitchen equipment. It’s strong, making it perfect for construction purposes, and it’s corrosion resistant, so it can last a long time without being replaced or breaking. Consider outfitting your food truck with high-quality stainless steel walls, counters, and prep areas to reap the many benefits it offers.

Solomon. O'Chucks