Last updated: August 6, 2021

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If there is baked-on dirt in the pan, many people like to use steel wool and the pan is clean in no time. But be careful with Teflon pans, which scratch quickly when steel wool is used. Steel wool is not only an extraordinarily effective dirt remover. Steel wool is versatile and can also be used for grinding or polishing.

It takes experience to know when steel wool is really necessary. There are different degrees of fineness, shapes and types of steel wool, all of which serve different purposes. In our product comparison, you can find out about the differences between steel wool types and which steel wool is suitable for your purposes.




Summary

  • Steel wool is versatile and just as many different variations are offered on the market.
  • When buying, the area of application, the fineness, the shape and the type of steel are decisive.
  • Although steel wool is available in different degrees of fineness, always be careful of scratches when cleaning with steel wool.

The Best Steel Wool: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for steel wool

To help you choose the right steel wool, we have listed the most important buying criteria here. All buying criteria overlap a little, but they still allow you to compare the different steel wool products.

The following four criteria should provide you with a helpful basis for decision-making:

In order to avoid misunderstandings, we describe each of the presented purchase criteria in the following sections.

Area of application

Depending on whether you want to clean, polish or sand with the steel wool, different types of steel wool are recommended. Before buying, you should know exactly what you want to use the steel wool for. Based on your application, you can then determine the fineness, shape and steel grade more precisely.

Fineness

How coarse can steel wool be before it scratches your pan? Depending on how and which surface you want to work on with steel wool, a different degree of fineness is decisive.

If the steel wool is to polish copper, a finer steel wool is recommended. For grinding surfaces, the steel wool should be coarser. The fineness ranges from 0000 to 5. The larger the number, the coarser the steel wool. The finest steel wool is therefore 0000.

Form

Steel wool is not only available as a handy sponge, but also on large rolls or even with a handle. Depending on the application, it makes sense to choose a certain form of steel wool.

If you need a lot of steel wool to sand down an old piece of furniture, you should consider whether a whole roll of steel wool is worthwhile. However, if you want to clean in difficult corners, a steel wool with a handle will do the job better than one without a handle.

Steel wool

Depending on what you want to do, you will need steel wool with different properties. Steel wool is available in both quality steel, stainless steel and even with integrated soap.

If the steel wool comes into frequent contact with water, stainless steel is probably the most suitable for your purposes, as it will otherwise start to rust. Integrated soap is not directly a different steel, but the steel wool with soap is certainly ideal for cleaning work.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about steel wool answered in detail

To give you a better insight into the topic of steel wool, we will answer the most frequently asked questions below. We want to make sure you are well informed about steel wool.

What is steel wool?

Steel wool is not simply made from the leftovers from steel production. Steel wire is pulled through special machines with knives so that fine fibres are cut off.

Depending on the angle of the knives and the drawing speed of the machines, different degrees of fineness of steel wool can be produced. The fine steel wool fibres can then be easily bent and shaped. In this way, the individual fibres can even be woven together, as demonstrated by Vileda's Glitzi.

Stahlwolle

Steel wool is mainly used in the kitchen at home. However, caution is advised, especially with Teflon pans, as the coating is quickly damaged. (Image source: Charlotte May/ Pexels)

Steel wool also comes with unique properties. Although it is metal, steel wool can be ignited and, when it reacts chemically with oxygen, it actually becomes heavier than it was before it burned.

How and where do I use steel wool?

Steel wool can be used not only for plastering, but also for finishing a wide variety of surfaces. Wood, metal, stone, plastic and glass can be ground and polished with steel wool. Steel wool can therefore be used in the kitchen and bathroom as well as in the hobby room or workshop.

However, you should be careful when cleaning pans and dishes that should not be scratched. Teflon pans in particular can easily be damaged with steel wool. Teflon in particular can be harmful to health when damaged.

How much does steel wool cost?

Depending on the form, the prices for steel wool vary. While steel wool in rolls is quoted at the price per gram, steel wool sponges are priced per piece. The fineness plays only a subordinate role in the price.

In the following, we have put together a table that clearly shows you how much the different steel wool shapes usually cost:

Form of steel wool usual price
Steel wool sponge (€ per piece) 1,50 - 3.50 €
Steel wool roll (€ per kg) 15.00 - 30.00 €
Steel wool with handle (€ per piece) 4.00 - 35.00 €

Is steel wool harmful to health?

No one should have health concerns when using steel wool. The steel itself is hygienic and can normally be easily rinsed off pans and dishes with water.

Nevertheless, it is important to always rinse the steel wool sponge thoroughly in the kitchen, otherwise germs and bacteria can accumulate. You should also replace the steel wool regularly, as with a normal sponge.

Furthermore, health concerns about inhaling burnt steel wool are unfounded. The fibres of steel wool are too coarse to be trapped in the lungs and are exhaled. Nevertheless, you should know where and when to use steel wool properly. For example, Teflon pans damaged by steel wool can be harmful to health.

How flammable is steel wool?

Videos are circulating on the internet showing how a mobile phone can ignite steel wool. However, on closer investigation, these videos turn out to be a hoax. Steel wool can be ignited with a conventional lighter, but not by mobile phone radiation.

Conclusion

Steel wool is very versatile and can be used in different situations and areas. Depending on the fineness, different surfaces can be cleaned, polished or sanded. Depending on the application, you can also decide whether you prefer to buy a normal steel wool, one with soap, an integrated sponge or with a handle.

If you don't want to clean with steel wool, you could also buy a whole roll of steel wool. This does not necessarily have to be stainless steel. In any case, you should be aware of when it makes sense to use steel wool, otherwise you will scratch your things.

Photo source: Amnarj Tanongrattana / 123rf

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