How can I tell if this is Stainless Steel? (Shank/Tail Piece)

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by DrGerm, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. DrGerm

    DrGerm Initiate (0) Apr 7, 2015 Indiana


    I changed my beer line and when disassembling the shank, etc. on my tower, I notice that there is a brass-like discoloration within. Pics below may not show this well, also, I didn't take a pic, but the tail piece has this color too when you look close.

    My question is: Is there any way to determine if this is stainless steel or not? I can't find this in the specs on the original system where I purchased it all.

    I'm still researching this sort of thing, maybe it's not all that important, but it seems that it's recommended to try and stay with Stainless Steel parts whenever possible? So, I may change these out.



  2. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (311) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Stainless is preferred for beer contact parts, and bars will use s/s all around for durability and sanitary reasons, but homeowners don't require a s/s drip tray for example. It just looks sharp.

    The brass nut is typical. It's not beer contact and they are always brass.
    The shank should be S/S and same with the faucet. The interior will typically be discolored a bit, so it can be dark, not shiny, and still be s/s.

    If you do not see brass, if there is still chrome plate, there is effectively no difference. It's only once the chrome plate wears off. Those dull brass faucets you see at the local tavern? Those were once chrome plated, and they are definitely not approved for food service (there is also PVD brass, but that is shiny and approved).

    Stainless Steel is considered the premium material for beer contact parts. The alternative is chrome. Both work well, but stainless will not wear out. That brass you see is where the chrome has worn off. Brass is not an approved food contact material. Beer in particular is aggressive and brass will leach into the product. So there is that.

    Stainless parts are fabricated from solid stainless steel, typically 304.
    Chrome plated is plated over brass, and the quality of plating varies considerably. Brass is much easier to machine, so the parts are much cheaper. Then a coating of chrome, which if the part is from China will be extraordinarily thin.

    No easy way to tell the difference without both to compare. Neither are magnetic. 304 is not if I recall. S/S threads are usually sharper, and the milling is usually finer. Brass is soft in comparison and looks it too.

    Hope this helps.

    DrGerm likes this.
  3. DrGerm

    DrGerm Initiate (0) Apr 7, 2015 Indiana

    Awesome response, tells me everything I need to know. Thanks!!!
    PortLargo likes this.
  4. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (471) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Yeah, we like to keep @billandsuz around for questions like this. FWIW, if in doubt with used/old parts, it isn't too pricey to swap out with new ss parts ... especially when considering peace of mind. And don't be shy 'bout replacing interior o-rings.
    DrGerm and billandsuz like this.
  5. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    You can also take a file to it in a place that won't show on the outside. If it's gold under the bright work, it's brass. If it is silver it's stainless.
    DrGerm likes this.
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