Although we have no conclusive data on the life of stainless steel
in specific burial conditions, the results of an independent
laboratory test are quite revealing.
In a 95 degree Fahrenheit salt water solution, stainless steel
(type 409) was found to be approximately
8.3 times longer lasting than 16-gauge carbon steel. In the same
test, stainless steel was 67% as long lasting as copper.
Copper is, of course, not subject to
the chemical reaction of water and iron, which with salt acting
as a catalyst, forms rust.
The question of magnetic properties has been an issue that has
been quite misrepresented. Of the four structural types of stainless
steel, only the Austenitic type is non-magnetic. This is due to
the nickel content of the alloy.
It's seldom a factor in determining which
alloy is used for a particular product or application. It's
accurate to say that the magnetic properties of a stainless alloy
have no effect on the durability of a burial casket under normal
It's important to note that a type of stainless alloy contains
the combination of ingredients which makes it best suited for its
final use. For example, the 409 (Ferritic) stainless steel alloy
is often used for casket manufacturing because it's known for its
properties in resisting atmospheric oxidation and high durability
in outdoor use.
Aurora Casket Company
pioneered the use of stainless steel in casket manufacturing in
1966, and has been the main source of development and production
of the stainless steel casket since. The company has used many varieties
of stainless steel alloys since then, and as new varieties are developed,
they have continued to experiment and innovate.
Although the subject is complex, it's
clear there are many considerations in determining which type of
stainless steel is best for a given end use. Aurora has chosen type
409 on the advice of its supplier, Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation--one
of the nation's largest.
Aurora Casket applies a brushed finish to its stainless steel caskets.
Skilled painters apply each coat by hand, then re-heat the top coat,
letting it harden into a smooth-as-glass finish.