Stainless Steel is usually sold in the “annealed” condition. It means that the material is in the “soft” or annealed condition. The 300 series of stainless can not be hardened by heat treatment (like carbon steels) but can be hardened by cold working. This cold work can be eliminated by heat treatment (annealing) that will restore the original soft condition. Annealing increases ductility and eliminates internal stresses.