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Differences Between Pig Iron and Carbon Steel

Differences Between Pig Iron and Carbon Steel

Metals are gaining popularity because of their sturdiness and malleability. From different types of metals, you can make anything out of them. From simple furniture to large edifices, metals are important in the life of humans. Men seek better and greater materials in order to build and cast what they need. Though metals almost look the same, there are several types of metals which include pig iron and carbon steel. Pig iron and carbon steel are two types of metal made from different components.

Pig iron is made when you melt charcoal, iron, and limestone together through intense air pressure. After the melting process, you can now derive the metal material, pig iron. Pig iron is a very high carbon product. This raw product cannot be used the way it is since the end material is still unstable and very brittle. To make use of pig iron, it is still necessary to refine it. The pig iron material is again melted and mixed with additional substances to form other types of iron which are: cast iron, wrought iron, and steel.

Pig iron was believed to already exist in some areas of China during the 11th century. Out of pig iron, the Chinese people had built their cannons and other iron weapons. Some used pig iron in decorative arts like molding figurines and statues.

Carbon steel is one of the products of refined pig iron. Creating pig iron is the intermediary step before you can derive steel. Carbon steel is formed when iron and carbon are combined. Steel is still called carbon steel as long as its other trace elements do not go beyond the high percentage of carbon. Carbon steel may contain trace elements of manganese, copper, silicon, nickel, chromium, and vanadium.

Mixing carbon to pig iron makes this metal sturdier. Carbon steels have four classes which include: low-carbon steel, medium-carbon steel, high-carbon steel, and ultra high-carbon steel. Low-carbon steel is the cheapest class of carbon steel, but it is very ductile. It can be only used in making flat-rolled sheets or strips. Medium-carbon steel contains a higher percentage of iron. An increase in the carbon percentage only means that the carbon steel is stronger but its ductility is lessened. Medium-carbon steel can be used to make axles, pipelines, etc.

On the other hand, high-carbon steel can be used in making cutting tools and blades. Since there is a greater percentage of carbon, it is difficult to machine. And lastly, the ultra high-carbon steel is also tailored to create cutting tools and blades.

The usability of the different types of metals depends on the elements they contain. But before you can create carbon steel, you need to refine pig iron first. In that way, you can forge the metals into more useful items like: pipelines, gears, blades, cutting tools, etc.


  1. Pig iron is a metal material made from melted iron, charcoal, and limestone under intense air pressure.

  2. Pig iron is a high-carbon product. It is still a raw and unrefined metal material. To be able to derive cast iron, wrought iron, and steel from pig iron, it will undergo another heating and melting process.

  3. Carbon steel is derived from pig iron. It is divided into four different classes: low-carbon steel, medium-carbon steel, high-carbon steel and ultra high-carbon steel.

  4. The strength of the carbon steel depends on the percentage of the carbon it contains. The more carbon, the sturdier the metal is.

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