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Difference Between Steel and Cast Iron

ironSteel vs Cast Iron

Iron is a hard grey metal, and heavier than any of the other elements found on Earth. During a process, impurities or slag is removed from iron, and it is turned into a steel alloy. This confirms that steel is an alloy, whereas iron is an element. Iron exists in natural forms, and scientists have found it in meteorite rocks as well. The main difference between the two elements is that steel is produced from iron ore and scrap metals, and is called an alloy of iron, with controlled carbon . Whereas, around 4% of carbon in iron makes it cast iron, and less than 2% of carbon makes it steel.

Cast iron is cheaper than steel, and it has a low melting point with an ability to mold into any form or shape because it does not shrink when it gets cold. Steel is made with a controlled amount of carbon, whereas cast iron can have any amount of carbon. Carbons and other metals like chromium are added to the iron to make alloys and different qualities or grades of steel, such as stainless steel.

Other difference between steel and cast iron is their properties. Properties of steel is that it is mild, harder to cast and has a relatively high viscosity. The properties of cast iron is that it is brittle, more damping and absorbs vibration and noises. In a molten form, cast iron is sufficient enough to making casts of any kind, from components of various machines to intricate shapes, such as cast iron or wrought iron furniture or gates. It is slightly destructive upon drilling, produces powder, and does not bend or dent because it is very hard, but it breaks easily – unlike steel. Steel produces chips if it is grinded, and it is malleable. The strength of both cast iron and steel is also controversial, as some think steel is stronger than cast iron and others think that iron and steel are same thing, but the truth is that cast iron has a more compressive strength, and steel is more tensile. If compared with cast iron, steel is superior in tension, and does not rust.

Cast iron and steel are used as construction materials, and are used to make structures for buildings. Steel is used to make beams, doors etc. Cast iron has been used to make pipelines and guttering in the past. It is still used for making manhole covers, cylinder blocks in the engines of cars, and for very heavy and expensive cooking utensils, besides its other uses as a construction material. Steel is preferred by the automobile industry to make steel parts and components, and it is used in various other industries to make tools, knives, frames, nails etc.


1. Steel is an alloy or iron, and cast iron is a hard grey metal.

2. Cast iron is cheaper than steel, and has a low melting point with the ability to mold easily.

3. Steel is mild and harder to cast, and loses viscosity.

4. Cast iron is used for making manhole covers, piping and guttering.

5. Steel is fabricated to make tools, structures, knives etc.

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  1. it concerning all the elements especially cast iron and steel

  2. it concerning all the elements especially cast iron and steel . steel is fabricate by having different shape,it have 2percentage while cast iron have 4percentage

  3. The last statement in the third paragraph is wrong, “If compared with cast iron, steel is superior in tension, and does not rust.”
    Steel rusts, too, my 1974 Subaru or any Honda car from that time frame is testament, and in some conditions steel rusts more.
    “Cast iron and steel corrode; however, because of the free graphite content of cast iron (3% – 4% by weight or about 10% by volume), an insoluble graphitic layer of corrosion products is left behind in the process of corrosion. These corrosion products are very dense, adherent, have considerable strength, and form a barrier against further corrosion. Because of the absence of free graphite in steel, the corrosion products have little or no strength or adherence and flake off as they are formed, thus presenting fresh surfaces for further corrosion.” from CISPI – corrosion resistance.

  4. Steel contains <2% carbon and cast iron contain 2 to 6.67% carbon

  5. I hate to say it, but I stopped reading after the first sentence was factually wrong. Iron is not the heavest element found on earth, not by a long shot. Silver, Lead, Mercury, Uranium, Gold are all denser and heavier, and those are just the well know ones.

    • Except you don’t find elemental Uranium on Earth, but you do find elemental Iron…

      • Hi. I know this is an old post, but I felt the need to add a few things just to potentially help those that may come across this looking for answers. First of all, responding to your comment Peter, we absolutely do find Uranium on Earth. It’s literally the only place we’ve ever mined it (since humans have never mined anywhere else). More to the point, even the more common elements that Douglas listed are in fact all heavier than iron (gold being over twice as heavy as iron). To name a few more elements that are heavier and more dense than iron: platinum, palladium, plutonium, tungsten (all of which are found on earth, btw) even nickel and cobalt are more dense than iron. And there is a laundry list more. And all this is only in response to the first sentence of the article. Others here have commented on numerous other inaccuracies in this post. I’m not commenting to make anyone feel bad and i’m not trying to be a bully, but for those that may reach this looking for legitimate answers, they should know that this article is in no way accurate.

  6. I admire your attempt but this article is so inaccurate.

    I’m a professional welder, certified machinist, and hobby foundry worker.

    Iron has a much higher melting point than steel! 2800f for iron, 2200 for steel.

    Some steel is mild, but there is also high carbon and corrosion resistant steel, as well as various super alloy.

    A lot of stainless steel has NO iron in it. Depending on the alloy, it may be replaced by nickel. (test it with a magnet)

    As has been stated, iron is far from the densest elemental metal.

    Engine heads are made from aluminum.

    Cast iron is actually rather soft(do the file test). If it was harder than steel, it would be used for blades. The structure is what makes it brittle, and a total nightmare to machine.

    Modern wrought iron, is mild steel.

  7. what the hell guys are you saying like that…..actually i think you all are not related to science and doing all bullshit things like that.
    first of all i would like to say you all that steel is more tougher and stronger then cast iron and steel will not rust whenever cast iron makes corrosion reaction with time.

  8. Statement like ” Iron is a hard grey metal, and heavier than any of the other elements found on Earth.” is just plain wrong and makes the author a “NonExpert” ..not worth reading any further. I think he failed Chemistry 101

    Density of Fe is 7.876 g/ cubic cm. Lead Pb is 11.34, Gold Au is 19.32

    This makes the same size billot of Au over double the weight of Fe .

  9. The author did not state that iron is the most dense element. It was that iron is the heaviest element found on earth
    (total weight of the element on earth).

    Perhaps one could think before posting superfluous (dense) arguments.

  10. I assume this article is automatically create from a robot as the plentiful errors are inconsistent and it contradicts itself. Please just remove it, it is aimed at beginners who will be badly misled.

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