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Titanium vs Surgical Steel: Which is the Best Choice for Piercing?

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titanium rings

Titanium is a better choice for piercing than surgical steel for people with sensitive skin or metal allergies. Titanium takes the upper hand because it offers the dream combination. It is lightweight, strong, durable and hypoallergenic. It is also nickel-free in contrast to surgical steel alloys.

Surgical steel is not an element like titanium: it is an iron alloy with superior qualities.
Iron is made into steel by adding carbon and chromium.

Surgical steel is used to produce medical equipment, bone strengthening and replacement parts.

Obviously, if it is even safe for surgery and implants, it is safe for body jewelry!

Yet, not all steel is biomedical level safe for jewelry and piercing.

For those who want more on which is better titanium or surgical steel, this post has your answers and more.


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Pros and Cons of Titanium for piercing

Titanium is one of the best choices for piercing, as it has a very low tendency to react with the human body.

It is an hypoallergenic metal which means it is unlikely to cause irritation for sensitive skin.

However, this does not completely nullify the possibility of allergy.

A tiny percentage of the world population is allergic to titanium, specifically.

In this case, you should avoid titanium jewelry and piercing.

Apart these low minority cases, titanium is a very safe choice.

It is even used for teeth implants and bone replacement thanks to its biocompitibility and distinct mechanical properties.

Besides its bio compliance, this gives an idea of titanium’s strength but let’s go further.

Titanium is one of the most durable and toughest metals known.

It has the highest tensile strength to density ratio of any metal.

In other words, titanium can endure very high tensions and keep its form despite its low volume.

You may think that such a strong metal should be very heavy, well that’s not the case!

Titanium is very light: its density of 4.5 g/cm3 is half of silver’s and just a quarter of gold’s densities.

When you consider its low density with respect to its durability, clearly it will outplay nearly all jewelry metals as implant and piercing.

This combination of lightweight, durability and bio compliant properties makes titanium an ideal implant and piercing material.

Titanium has a 6 rating on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which enables to craft fancy designs.

Titanium does not include nickel

Nickel is the first culprit for metal allergies.

Preventing any nickel allergies starts by avoiding any metal alloys that contain it!

Titanium is a safe choice as it is hypoallergenic and does not include nickel.

However, we can’t say the same thing for steel, more on this below.

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Pros and Cons of Surgical Steel for piercing

Steel is a popular choice for piercing thanks to its price, besides other qualities.

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, there is not only one type of steel.

Nevertheless, steel’s pros are much more than just an affordable price tag.

Steel is an alloy of iron, which has many different use cases depending on its composition.

Today, it is used in many areas: from construction to producing home appliance, from shipping to biomedical sciences.

And, obviously, not all of these alloys are safe for jewelry!

So, you have to know what type of steel is used in your piercing before you have it!

Steel is made by adding carbon to iron.

This alloy is the basis of all steels, and they differ by other ingredients, percentages and production methods.

We’ll leave details in the deep subject to those want to have a PhD in material sciences and focus on jewelry!

316L and 316LVM class steel is safe for jewelry and piercing.

316L type stainless steel is a variant of 316 steel with a smaller percentage of carbon.

It is a good choice for biomedical implants, piercing and bone parts.

While nickel is used to produce 316L steel, it is entrapped in the core of the material.

This makes 316L steel alloy a good choice for jewelry and piercing due to its durability, superior mechanical properties, bio compliant nature and low allergic reaction risk.

Surgical steel is harder than titanium.

It has a high position the Mohs hardness scale: It has a 8 rating to titanium’s 6.

These factors give more creative freedom for titanium jewelry makers as it is easier to shape it.

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The Verdict: Which is better titanium or surgical steel?

It is essential to use high-quality metals for piercing to stay safe.

Titanium is a top metal in this regard.

It is highly inert, which means it does interact with the human tissues.

It is a hypoallergenic metal safe for jewelry and body piercing.

Another big plus for titanium is its lightweight.

It is about double the weight of a similar steel piece.

For anyone who has questions about the strength and durability of titanium, it should suffice to say it has one of the highest tensile strength in the metals league.

It is used in implant surgeries, with great satisfaction.

One would ask if there is any downside of titanium, the answer is no minus its price, which goes well above surgical steel.

On the other side, surgical steel offers strength and durability in a heavier package.

Medical grade stainless steels of 316L/316LVM are long lasting materials with high scratch resistance.

They do not corrode or rust.

These two steel alloys are safe bets for jewelry and piercing.

At the end of the day, for people with metal hypersensitivity, titanium is the better choice.

This preference comes with a lighter weight and higher price than surgical & implant grade steel.

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Related questions

1. Does Titanium get rusty?

Titanium does not rust or corrode.

2. Is Titanium good for sensitive skin?

Titanium is an excellent choice for sensitive skin. It is highly inert. It is hypoallergenic.

What is the best metal for sensitive pierced ears?

3. Is rose gold real gold?

Rose gold is made of real gold which has a natural color.

As gold is too soft jewelry in its purest form, it is alloyed with other metals to increase strength.

Rose gold is a popular gold alloy which has a reddish color.

Yellow gold gains this rose color thanks to copper in the alloy.

Copper hardens and significantly adds to its durability and gifts a distinct rose color to gold.

4. Is 22k gold too soft for jewelry?

Fine gold is 24 karat. That means it is 24 out of 24 parts made of gold.

100% Pure gold is too soft for jewelry.

Thus, gold alloys are used to make jewelry.

22k gold has 91.7% gold in its composition, while the remaining small part comes from other cheaper base metals like copper.

The most popular karats used in jewelry are 10k, 14k and 18k gold.

These have 41.7%, 58.3% and 75% gold purity, respectively.

These have smaller gold percentages compared to 22k gold, but they are all harder and more durable jewelry materials.