Pepper Mill vs. Salt Mill: What’s the Difference?

Image for post
Image for post


The primary difference between a salt mill and a pepper mill is the mechanism used to grind the spices contained within them. Here we will introduce the most 3 common materials: Ceramic, Stainless Steel and Carbon Steel, which also the most being mixed up.

Even though they are used at almost every meal, did you know that good quality pepper mill grinders are made of hardened steel? Salt mills, on the other hand, are made from ceramic. And did you know that it’s crucial that you never let water into your pepper grinder?

Salt can corrode or oxidize steel, even stainless steel. Therefore it’s important you don’t decide to just use an empty pepper mill for salt; there’s a reason they are made of different materials. Choose ceramic when purchasing a salt mill; it works the best and doesn’t get damaged by the salt.

Well, there is actually a lot you should know about pepper and salt mills, things that you might not ordinarily consider but can make your enjoyment of these spices that much greater.

Image for post
Image for post

Here are six factors you should keep in mind when you are choosing a salt mill and a pepper mill. Looks are important, of course, and you should buy ones that are aesthetically pleasing and suit your decor. But remember: take the following factors into account when deciding which ones to purchase!

1) Corrosion Resistant: Ceramic> Stainless Steel> Carbon Steel

Ceramic is naturally oxidized. It doesn’t rust or deteriorate even in warm environments like kitchens. This makes it the ideal material to make a salt mill from, and any of quality are indeed manufactured from ceramic.

Both carbon steel and stainless steel contain iron, and that iron will oxidize when it’s exposed to the water, and that creates rust. Generally speaking, however, you’ll have more luck with a stainless steel grinder, because just like the name implies, it resists corrosion. In fact, of all kinds of steel out there on the market, stainless steel is best for lots of products for the kitchen. And that’s certainly true of your salt and pepper mills.

Stainless steel contains iron, carbon and at least 10 percent chromium. The chromium is vital because it reacts with oxygen and creates a kind of insulating layer that protects the steel from corrosion. Keep this in mind: the higher the level of chromium, the better able to resist rust the grinder is. However, since the mill grind by time, the layer which protect against from rust will be worn out as well.

Carbon steel, on the other hand, doesn’t have enough chromium to form this insulating layer of protection, which means that the oxygen will bond with the iron, and that will result in rust. If a grinder made of this is used for salt, it will corrode eventually, furthermore, the salt will stick and clump and make an awful mess! Pretty soon you’ll have a salt mill that is completely useless.

For other dry spice such as peppercorn, they do not have the problem like salt, then it suitable for all the three material, we will discuss the pros and cons in the further following.

Image for post
Image for post

2) Cost: Carbon Steel> Stainless Steel> Ceramic

Another factor to keep in mind is cost. Different grades come with different costs, but keep in mind that your pepper grinder and salt mill will last a long time; paying for one made of the right material is a wise investment!

We are not going to talk about Nylon(Plastic) material in the article. Overall, it is light, cheap, however, not durable.

High carbon steel, which is also called carbon tool steel, contains between 0.61 percent and 1.50 carbon. That means it is tough enough to grind other hard spices too, not just pepper. So carbon steel mill is the most expensive in these three.

And not all stainless steels are the same or created equal! Stainless steel with a minimum of 10.5 percent chromium content is much less expensive, but a lot less durable, than one with at least 16 percent chromium. That means it just won’t last as long or wear as well, and you could find yourself replacing your pepper grinder far more often than you should.

Even if you’re on a strict budget, think about how much you want to reduce customer complaints, and how long you want it to last. Some items are worth a little extra money because of they last!

Image for post
Image for post

Holar pepper mills, for example, have an 18/8 stainless steel grinding mechanism. The first figure, 18, refers to the percentage of chromium in the stainless steel. The second figure, 8, refers to the percentage of nickel. Both of these elements, chromium and nickel, contribute to that insulating layer in the stainless steel that makes it resistant to rust and corrosion. That makes it almost 1.5 as expensive as ceramic, but again — you get what you pay for!

If you want an attractive grinder at a reasonable price, choose a ceramic one! You replace them far less frequently than you do stainless steel ones, so there are fewer recurring costs in the long run.

3) Sharpness: Carbon Steel> Ceramic> Stainless Steel

Here, you should think about the grinder producing process as well as the material hardness. The material that makes a ceramic blade is incredibly hardness; in fact, it is second only to diamonds for hardness. Once it is sharpened, the blade will retain its cutting ability and will not easily wear out. Ceramic grinders stay sharp for an unbelievably long time, 10 times longer than a stainless steel blade.

Carbon steel grinders start out sharper than ceramic, which means you have a more precise outcome in your grinding, keeping their sharp edges longer than other varieties, which makes your slicing and grinding easier. And stainless steel is generally easier to sharpen; however, they tend to lose their edge more quickly than other grinders.

4) Durability: Stainless Steel= Carbon Steel> Ceramic

Stainless steel knife blades are, overall, better able to stand up to the rigors of cutting than high carbon blades. But being tougher doesn’t necessarily make them harder. In fact, experts are divided on how to define them, because for quite a while they were considered virtually identical.

Hardness doesn’t mean they are unbreakable, ceramic grinders aren’t meant to cut hard spices like caraway seeds, so that might limit their use in your kitchen. If something isn’t easily ground, they aren’t of much use, unfortunately. So things like coriander seeds or allspice berries have to be sliced or ground with a different implement.

5) Consistency: Carbon Steel> Ceramic> Stainless Steel

The consistency level is due to function. A Holar carbon steel and ceramic grinder are made up of lots of small and large grooves. It’s the smaller grooves, known as grinding grooves that tackle the tough job of grinding pepper.

Within the grinding mechanism, there is a grinding head that goes inside an outer ring. These two components are a variety of grooves and teeth, and that’s what keeps them from locking together while they work.

Image for post
Image for post

If you compare carbon steel and ceramic, the consistency of the grind isn’t quite the same. Since the different producing process, the ceramic grinders go through the firing process, which means the blade is not as precise as the carbon steel.

In a stainless steel grinding mechanism, the pepper is sort of crushed rather than ground. It’s the design of the mechanism causes the pepper to be ground differently. However, the stainless steel is hard and long-lasting, and so by and large it’s as effective, in practice, as a ceramic one.

6) Heat: Carbon Steel= Stainless Steel= Ceramic

None of these three materials — stainless steel, ceramic or carbon steel — will transfer heat to the grinder’s burr. The first reason is speed and time. For manual grinder, you won’t speed up as fast as heat up the burr. Second, the spices melt point is much higher than you think. You don’t see pepper melt when you’re cooking with it, right? Even the melt point of salt is 801 °C.

Image for post
Image for post

Who is the Winner?

Image for post
Image for post

We looked at all these factors — corrosion resistance; cost; sharpness; durability; consistency, and heat. When we added it all up, all three grinders scored very closely. A lot of your choice will depend on your preferences. If you live in a warm climate, like Taiwan, a ceramic grinder is probably your best choice.

  • Salt Mill: Ceramic
  • Pepper Mill: Ceramic, Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel Grinder

Note that since the salts will corrode the metal and turn it rusty, you cannot use a steel grinding mechanism for salt. The grinder for salt should use ceramic for a substitute.

Ceramic for pepper mill for sure. Furthermore, for mid and senior level, we recommend carbon steel grinder for pepper mill since it’s precise and sharpness, the mill could produce a more consistent pepper.

Click like if you think the article is useful. Also, leave us to comment about how you choose your salt mill and pepper mill.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —


We are kitchen and dining products expert supplier from Taiwan, and we specialize in manufacturing high-quality salt and pepper mill, coffee mill, canister, olive oil can, tabletop and more.

Please let us quickly brief our advantages:
- Over 50 years of manufacturing kitchen and dining products.
- Long cooperate and own factories to control the highest quality.
- Offer over 600 products for you to compete in any markets.
- Products are made of strictly selected materials to maintain perfection.
- 100% made in Taiwan to ensure highly competitive around the world.
- Third-party certificate to deliver trustworthy quality products to you.

If you are interested in kitchenware topic, you can connect with us on Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or by visiting our website.

Written by

We're kitchen and dining products expert supplier from Taiwan. If you are looking for kitchenware suppliers, welcome to contact us

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store