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Iron Versus Steel Properties

Steel is an a product of iron, which itself has two separate types: cast iron and wrought iron. All three of these metals have different qualities, composition and advantages.

Composition

What separates steel and iron is the amount of carbon that they contain. Wrought iron contains the least amount of carbon, and cast iron contains the most carbon. Steel fits in the middle in terms of carbon content. Carbon is a determinant in the hardness and brittleness of the metal.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is a measure of how much a substance resists efforts to tear it apart. Cast iron has the least amount of tensile strength, and steel has the greatest amount of tensile strength. Wrought iron has a greater tensile strength than cast iron, but it is not as strong as steel.

Compression strength

Compression strength is a measure of how much a substance resists crushing forces. Wrought iron is the least resistant to compression, and steel is the most resistant to compression. Cast iron is also characterized by a strong resistance to compression, but it is not as resistant as steel.

Weldability

Metal that are weldable are more easily employed for creating structures composed of multiple metal sections. Wrought iron is the most easily weldable. Steel that has a lower carbon content can be welded, but it is not an easy task. Cast iron cannot be welded.

Oxidization

Oxidization is another way to say rust. The more a metal resists oxidization, the longer that metal can last outdoors. Among the three metals, steel rusts most easily, while cast iron is the most resistant to oxidization.

Brittleness

Brittle metal breaks suddenly and without warning. Cast iron and steel are both highly brittle metals. Wrought iron is more ductile and tends to give away slowly with signs of warning.

About the Author

Andrew Creasey is a writer living in Eugene, Ore. He is a freelance writer for the "Oregon Daily Emerald" and a contributor to the the on-line magazine, "Oregon Music News." He has been a freelance writer since 2009. Creasey has a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology with an emphasis on archaeology from the University of Iowa.