Iron vs. Steel: What’s the Difference, Which is Stronger, and What You Need to Know
Iron and steel are often confused with one another. However, there are some key differences that you should know. As a national steel supplier, we can help set the record straight on what you need to know about steel compared to iron. If you need steel for your next project, we offer a variety of high-quality steel products, including:
- Cold-rolled steel
- Aluminized steel
- Stainless steel
- Galvanized steel
- Galvanneal steel
- Bonderized steel
Let’s dive into the various properties and differences between iron and steel:
What is the Difference Between Iron and Steel?
Iron is a ferromagnetic metal, and it is an essential mineral. The metal is malleable, but it is also an integral component of a proper nutritional diet. It helps promote the production of hemoglobin to support healthy red blood cells.
Steel is a ferrous alloy composed of mostly iron and carbon, depending on the type of steel. Steel contains multiple mixed elements, so it is not technically a metal even though it is composed of iron which is a metal.
One of the critical differences between iron and steel is that you can find iron naturally on the earth. However, steel is a man-made alloy that requires processing. You can also add various other metals to steel to produce different types of steel. Steel is also stronger than iron, more durable, and won’t rust easily, making it ideal for many products and construction needs.
Is Steel Stronger than Iron?
Steel is stronger than iron. The addition of carbon and processing makes it stronger than iron but may also be more brittle. However, most iron products are processed with different metals such as carbon or manganese. Iron has practical applications for various applications due to its low melting point.
How is Steel Made From Iron?
Iron ore is mined and smelted in furnaces to remove impurities. During this process, steelworkers add carbon, usually less than 1% of the finished product. The furnaces are lined with heat-resistant brick. Steel is made by mixing carbon and iron.
Primary steelmaking is made from pig iron or smelted iron from ore. As the pig iron is processed at extremely high temperatures (above 2600°F), oxidation removes excess carbon and binds additional elements to make steel.
Another way to make steel is from secondary steelmaking executed with a ladle and primarily started with melting scrap. Steelworkers can work with various elements to create a specific alloy, and other chemical processes can occur.
Is Steel a Pure Substance or a Heterogeneous Mixture?
Steel is a homogeneous mixture composed of iron and carbon. The metal alloy has a consistent composition, and the solid material is uniform throughout. Steel has more than one component, so it is not categorized as a pure substance.
Contact Us for a Quote on Your Next Steel Project!
We provide high-quality steel processed to your specifications if you need steel for your next project. Our steel services include:
- Slitting services.
- Blanking processing services.
- Cut to length services.
- Toll processing steel services.