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Carbon Steel v.s. Stainless steel

Posted by Admin on Jan 17, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Carbon Steel Reactor VesselWhat's the Difference Between Carbon Steel & Stainless Steel?

Bendel Tank and Heat Exchanger can fabricate horizontal, vertical and custom storage tanks in a variety of materials including carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel alloy and duplex.   

Our two most common building materials are carbon steel and stainless steel.  And the most common question we hear is “what’s the difference between the two?” These two metals are similar in many ways, but have three key differences. 

The experts at Bendel Tank and Heat Exchanger have provided a quick overview of what to consider when deciding on the base material of your tank:


1.)  How will your tank be used? 

The purpose of your tank will often dictate which material is best.  As you might expect, carbon steel has a higher carbon content than stainless steel. Because of the larger amounts of carbon, tanks created with this material offer better heat distribution. This is useful for customers who plan on heating the contents of their tank.

Stainless steel on the other hand, has higher chromium content than carbon steel. The chromium creates a layer on top of the steel that prevents corrosion and iron oxide (rust) build-up from forming.

2.) Maintenance and Location of the Storage Tank

Carbon steel is usually preferred in situations where the tank will be stored indoors or under cover. Since carbon steel is more prone to rusting, it is best to place these tanks indoors, especially in areas with high air salinity. If moisture makes contact with the tank, it must be removed quickly.

Stainless steel tanks are preferred in cases where the tank will be outside or visible to the public.

​The chromium in the metal prevents rust from developing and requires very little maintenance. Because of this, areas with high air salinity should almost always opt for a stainless steel tank.The Desired Appearance Carbon steel has a dull matte finish.

3.) Visual Appeal / Branding

If the tank is going to be seen by the public, your tank require a boost in appearance. Bendel offers a variety of finishes and colors to match any customer’s needs. Depending on the amount of chromium in the stainless steel, the tank can range from an attractive, slightly reflective texture to a highly reflective, mirror-like finish.  These tanks usually do not need any additional colors or finishes and are beautiful in their natural state.

Not only can Bendel create a custom storage tank to suit any customer’s needs, we also fabricate tank accessories including heating and cooling coils, ladders, catwalks, half pipe jackets, heat tape systems and much more.

Learn more about our storage tanks here. 

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