Steel vs Iron – What’s the Difference

Steel vs Iron

If you’re not a metallurgy expert, you might think that iron and steel are interchangeable terms for the same material. You may have even heard the phrase “iron and steel” used together as if to say they are the same thing. However, despite the similarities in appearance, iron and steel are quite different. In this blog post, we’ll explore those differences to help you understand why steel has become the preferred material in many industries.

Difference Between Steel and Iron


Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. On the other hand, steel is an alloy made of iron and other elements, most commonly carbon. Steel can contain other elements, such as manganese, silicon, and sulfur, to name a few, which impart different properties to the final product.


One of the biggest differences between steel and iron is their respective strengths. Pure iron has a low tensile strength, whereas steel has a much higher tensile strength. Tensile strength measures how much stress a material can withstand without breaking. High tensile strength is important in many applications, such as construction and engineering.

Corrosion resistance

Steel is much more corrosion-resistant than iron due to the presence of other elements. In particular, chromium is added to steel to increase its resistance to rust, making it ideal for outdoor use, such as bridges or skyscrapers. Iron objects, on the other hand, tend to rust quickly when exposed to moisture and oxygen.

Manufacturing process

The process of making steel is more involved than that of making iron. Steel is produced by heating iron ore and other materials in a blast furnace, which removes impurities and adds carbon. Then, the resulting molten steel is poured into moulds and cooled, giving it the desired shape. Iron, on the other hand, is produced by heating iron ore in a blast furnace and then cooling it into ingots that can be further processed.


Because steel can be alloyed with various elements, it can be made into a wide range of products with different properties. Steel can be used to make everything from tools to automobiles to skyscrapers. Conversely, iron is much less versatile due to its lower strength and susceptibility to corrosion.


In conclusion, steel and iron may look similar, but they are quite different in their composition, strength, corrosion resistance, manufacturing process, and versatility. Steel is preferred in many fields due to its high tensile strength, corrosion resistance, and versatility. While iron is still used in some applications, such as making cast iron pans or wrought iron gates, it has largely been replaced by steel in most industrial and engineering applications. Understanding the differences between these two materials can help you decide which is best for your project or application.



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