Carbon steel vs stainless steel

Date: 11/08/2020

It is easy to sometimes become confused when dealing with carbon steel and stainless steel. Due to the fact that they are both made from steel, it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other. Steel in itself is the main material used all over the world and is used within construction for skyscrapers, tracks and tall bridges.

What is steel?

Steel isn’t actually a metal itself, it is an alloy or a mixture of metals that includes Iron. Iron can be used as an essential in construction when heated to a very high temperature. Due to its variety, steel can be recycled and is very hard in structure. Because it maintains iron, steel can have the capability to rust.

Carbon steel

Carbon steel comes in two different forms; high carbon steel and low carbon steel. By changing the amount of carbon within carbon steel this can determine whether or not it is classed as a higher or lower variation.

High carbon steel

High carbon steel can be known as  ‘carbon tool steel’. Once heated, high steel can be difficult to cut and bend as it becomes very hard and brittle. Tool steels and die steels are some types of high-carbon steels which contain alloying elements.

Low carbon steel

Low carbon steel is classed a one of the largest groups of steel. This type of carbon steel can be difficult to be hardened by heat so it is typically achieved by cold work. Due to it having a low amount of steel within it, it is relatively soft and has low strength, making it a lot less durable than high carbon steel. 

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is also an alloy containing iron however it also contains chromium and carbon. Chromium benefits stainless steel by producing a thin layer of oxide on the surface to prevent rusting, this layer is called the ‘passive layer’. Stainless steel has a requirement to be corrosion resistant in any environment.  The higher the passive layer, the better the corrosion resistance. 

Austenitic stainless steel

Austenitic stainless steels is known to be the most common type of stainless steel that is used. This type of steel is non-hardenable by heat treating and as brilliant formability and corrosion resistance. Due to this, austenitic stainless steel can be used for domestic, industrial, transport and architectural products.

So, what is the difference?

The main difference between these two metals is that carbon steel rusts whereas stainless steel contains chromium to prevent damage. However, both of these metals are used frequently within the manufacturing industry.

Thank you for reading our blog on Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel. Find more interesting blogs here.