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topic 3786

Can Chrome Plating be used on Flatware?


Q. I wish to know if chrome plating could be used on flatware as a cheaper substitute for silver plating. Chrome looks good and will not tarnish. It is scratch proof but are the toxic levels safe for usage as flatware/cutlery?  If not, what other electroplating can I look for.  I need a good cheap alternative to silver but something that does not tarnish.   Your advice will be highly appreciated. Thank you.


Aloke Mookerjee
- India


A. The industry is currently headed away from chrome right now. The most common type of chrome used in plating is hexavalent. This type of chrome has been found to be carcinogenic and is in the process of being phased out. I'm sure you don't want to use this on cutlery. You should look at a past editorial on this website about chrome. However, there is trivalent chrome and there are other options that you can consider.

tim neveau
Tim Neveau
Rochester Hills, Michigan


A. Although I agree with some of what you said, Tim, I can't agree completely. The deposited chrome is metallic, valence 0, and is the same material regardless of whether the bath it was plated out of was hexavalent or trivalent. Chromium plating is regularly used on kitchen implements such as salt shaker caps, pancake turners, knives, salad service, etc.
I have an old Japanese eating fork from Grandma that is nickel-chrome plated steel, but it is badly rusted by now. As a consumer I vastly favor solid stainless steel over chrome plated.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. I agree with Ted fully. Pure chromium is acceptable for cutlery and utensils, and there is a lot of it out there in use. Plus, it is a supplement, check your vitamin bottle for ingredients.

This hex-chrome thing has created a lot of misunderstanding in the industry, and I do not know where it is coming from.

Mandar Sunthankar
- Fort Collins, Colorado

August 29, 2009


I just wanted to correct the original poster on the fact that chrome is not scratch proof in any way shape or form.

This is easily demonstrated by taking a piece of sandpaper to the bumpers of your neighbors restored 1953 Corvette.

Chrome is a very hard metal therefore the scratches that it acquires are not very deep relative to the depth that a soft metal like silver would scratch. What also has to be kept in mind is that the layer of chrome in a decorative finish is only microns thick so the chrome will not really prevent marring that would effect the base metals, chromed or not.

Steve Gorzo
- Calgary, Alberta Canada

March 21, 2016

Q. Hello,
I am buying flatware directly from a manufacturer, initially for personal use and eventually for resale. The manufacturer is using 18/8 stainless steel. I received some samples and they seem to be of really good quality. The designs are really unique and beautiful because the manufacturer is making the top of part of the spoon or fork and welding that to the handle of the spoon or fork. Due to the water being hard in my area, after using the flatware for couple of weeks I saw tiny rust spots only where they weld the pieces together. At least, I think the rust is due to the water being hard in my area. I was able to easily scrub out the rust using either toothpaste or baking soda. Please note that rust only appears where they weld and nowhere else on the flatware.
In order to prevent rust, the manufacturer wants to chrome-plate the flatware. He is guaranteeing 10 years and claiming no rust or tarnish.
My first question is can chrome-plating last 10 years or more and prevent rust and not tarnish?
Second question is: I prefer just the pure stainless steel (without chrome-plate) so is there a permanent transparent sealant of some kind that the manufacturer can use to prevent rusting where the welding is?

Steven Grover
- Belleville, New Jersey, USA

March 2016

A. Hi Steven. I think the welded area should be addressed via different welding rod, different procedure, passivation after welding, or whatever is required so that it isn't an issue. Although it's probably possible to chrome plate it for 10-year life, to me it sounds more like "we're not doing the welding very well but it sounds like a lot of work to fix it, so maybe chrome plating is easier" :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

March 21, 2016

Q. Hello and thanks for your prompt response!

Are there any disadvantages of chrome-plating on 18/8 stainless steel?

I have duly noted your response and will let the manufacturer know about improving the welding process such as:
1. clean with pickling paste or steel brush after welding
2. passivate


Steven Grover [returning]
- Belleville, New Jersey, USA

April 4, 2016

A. The manufacturer could alternatively make the flatware out of one piece of stainless steel, avoiding the welding altogether. Cup-rolling can help achieve the desired aesthetics.

Vikrant Choksy
- Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

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