Iron vs. Steel

Many people consider Iron and Steel to be similar and get confused about the differences. It is safe to say that they are similar and that actually is the main difference as well. Iron is a pure substance that exists on its own while steel is considered an alloy of iron. The other difference between them is that iron is regarded as a brittle material while steel is viewed as an active material.

Comparison Chart

Basis of Distinction Iron Steel
Formation Pure substance Made up of iron and carbon.
Types Cast iron, Wrought Iron and Steel. Carbon steel and alloy steel
Rusting quickly gets oxidized and then result in rust. Have different elements that protect it from rushing.
Surface Its surface is rusty Its surface stays shiny
Usage For buildings, tools and automobiles For buildings, railways, cars, and construction.
Existence Available in nature Has to be formed.

What is Iron?

It is a chemical element which is used in abundance all over the world and is relatively famous because of the properties and uses it has. It is the purest metal in the world with around 90% of the industry based on refinery using Iron as the primary source. It also has many uses when it comes to construction and manufacturing steel and is used in civil engineering for building purposes. It also has a strong presence in biology where it has an essential role when it comes to human body and is also present in food. There are different types of iron which are found in the world today. The most famous one is the wrought iron which is present in the original form and is a mixture of pure iron and silicate. It has a very low percentage of carbon present and therefore widely used in making tools. The next form is the pig iron which has a high proportion of carbon present which can be as high as 4%. It is produced in the blast furnace and is considered the original form of all iron ores. The next one is cast iron, and that is obtained from the white metal and is relatively soft in comparison to others. It has a high yield density and therefore does not corrode easily. Steel is another important type but will be discussed separately in the next paragraph. It is mostly used in industry for the purposes of construction, producing tools, in cars and other automobiles and also combined with other chemical substances for products.

What is Steel?

It is perhaps the most important type of iron ore which is used for various purposes and has many applications which are essential for people in the world. It is mostly used for construction and other purposes because of its strength and low cost. Many steel industries are working currently to produce it and therefore is used in tall building structures or tools which are helpful for other purposes. The amount of carbon is around 2% which is neither considered low nor high and therefore gives a balance as compared to other iron ores. It had been produced for a long time, but proper industry began in the 17th centuries. It is one of the most common metals in the world with around 2 million tons being produced on a yearly basis. It is heat treated to make it more intense and pure and processes such as annealing, quenching and tempering are used to give it a proper look. There are many ways through which it can be produced, and that includes the reprocessing of iron to reduce the amount of carbon, and at a particular time, more elements are added to it to make it even better. The best part about steel is that it can be recycled easily and therefore is the most recycled material since it has a lot of uses. There are different types of steel which include carbon steel and alloy steel. It is employed in the construction of roads, for trains and their tracks, appliances and utilized in the most famous buildings and towers such as Eiffel Tower and the London Bridge.

Key Differences between Iron and Steel

  1. Iron is considered a real element that has properties which are true in nature. On the other hand, steel is an alloy of iron which does not have pure features.
  2. Iron can easily get oxidized and then result in rust and therefore does not have a shiny surface, while steel, on the other hand, has different elements that protect it from rushing, hence providing it with shine.
  3. Iron is made up of itself while steel is made up of iron and carbon.
  4. The iron itself is not as sturdy and is considered as a brittle material. Steel, on the other hand, has carbon in it which makes it one of the most powerful metal to exist.
  5. Iron was initially used for building purposes, but now steel is utilized for that purpose.
  6. Iron is used for making tools and instruments and automobiles while steel is used in making buildings, rails, and other architecture.
  7. There are different types of steel which include carbon steel and alloy steel. While the types of iron are many, but the most famous ones include cast iron, wrought iron and steel.

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