I had a hunt around & found a

Black Oxide VS stainless Steel

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Hello everyone,

I'm wondering if a Black Oxide Finish (on Stainless Steel) is more or less durable then simple Stainless Steel. I don't, unfortunately, know what kinda of Stainless.

I am particularly talking about the new Leatherman Multi-tools with a Black Oxide Finish vs their normal Stainless Steel tools.


Sean Begley
Electrical Engineer / Gadgeteer - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Hi, Sean. I've had several Leatherman tools. Yes, they can rust if left really wet and unattended for months. But in normal use they don't rust, and last just fine. The black color is a matter of which look you like, not corrosion resistance.


Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

So, to sum up your answer, the Black Oxide finish on the Stainless Steel does not, appreciably, affect the corrosion or wear resistance of the part?

A subtle follow on question, how is the durability of the Black Oxide finish itself compared to un-blackened Stainless?



Sean Begley
- Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Hi, Sean. A black oxide finish on plain steel has virtually zero corrosion resistance. It is usually waxed or oiled, and sometimes lovingly maintained with light oil in some cases such as with hunting rifles. Strip the oil off and the part will often flash rust in hours.

Perhaps a significant reason Glock firearms became so respected is that their Tenifer salt bath nitride finish was such a huge improvement over black oxide.

Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Thank you Ted. That is exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

In this case, it looks to me like adding the Black Oxide finish will (of course) make the part black, but that it causes the part to require more maintenance then with the simple Stainless Steel finish.

Sean Begley
- Atlanta, Georgia, USAI'd like to put Stainless Steel (18-8) screws with black oxide on the outside surface of a medical scanner device. In other words, they'll be exposed frequently to cleaning agents and bodily fluids.

Is that a good idea, or should I use screws with more corrosion resistance? My requirements are that the screws need to be black (or at least gray) and that they don't show signs of corrosion (for aesthetic reasons) is this environment over time (10 years).

Victor Dzon
Design Engineer - Cleveland, Ohio, USA First of two simultaneous responses - October 15, 2013
Read electro-mechanical engineering blog
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