A section from a stainless steel kitchen sink showed a round red stain on its surface after a short time in storage. Several of these sinks were stacked together and separated by felt pads while in storage, and the mating sink showed a nearly identical stain in the same area, while no stains were noted on any of the other sinks in the stack. The stain was located near one of the pads; however, no discoloration was noted at the pad location. EDS analysis showed the base metal to be austenitic stainless steel, such as type 304. FTIR analysis of the stain revealed carboxylic salts and salts of organic acids, in addition to hydroxyl functionality. The discoloration was caused by localized rusting of the sink from prolonged exposure to a chloride containing substance. The appearance suggests that the substance may actually have been a drop of perspiration (sweat) from a factory worker. Based on these findings, one of the recommendations was to use thicker pads between the sinks to allow any such liquids to dry before causing corrosion damage.
S.J. Suess, Discoloration of a Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Household Products and Consumer Goods, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.homegoods.c9001627
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