|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Hi-- Wow! You've asked a tough question! In the absence of elemental analysis, there are a few suggestions I can offer you. In the first place, the strainer that you're talking about is probably made of chrome-plated carbon (regular) steel wire. It will be magnetic. This is because regular steel can be drawn into fine wire, with the chromium plating added for corrosion resistance. Aluminum: most commercial alloys have a little silicon added. It's shiner than stainless, relatively easy to machine, non-magnetic, but subject to corrosion. Aluminum tends to be a bit too brittle to be drawn into fine wire, such as would be used in a strainer, but in a fancy kitchen store you might find an aluminum semi-strainer with punched holes in it. Aluminum is also less dense than stainless, so something made of aluminum will feel lighter than something made of stainless. Stainless: most alloys are iron with (typically) 18% chromium and 8% nickel added. "300" series stainless steels are not magnetic, while "400" series stainless (stronger and more expensive) is magnetic. Compared to aluminum, stainless is a little duller and grayer looking. All series of stainless are miserable to machine, and, like aluminum, are rarely drawn into fine wire. Stainless is relatively dense and feels heavy. Hope this helps!
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