Difference Between Iron and Steel (With Table)

The manufacturing industry has been one of the most popular industries existing today. This industry has been existing since centuries now. In this industry, lots of materials are used on an everyday basis.

Among the various materials used, two of the most common materials are Iron and Steel. Both these products are used in the manufacture of a large variety of products. These components look so similar that they are often confused for each other. 

Iron vs Steel

The main difference between Iron and Steel is that Iron is considered to be a base element whereas, on the other hand, Steel is considered to be an alloy which is a combination of both iron and carbon. Also, in industries, Iron is used less often as compared to Steel. 

Both Iron and Steel have been used for a long time now. A lot of great structures of the 19th century like the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty have all been built using Iron. Iron has been known to exist since 6000 years now. It is one of the most common elements found in the crust of the earth. 

Though both Iron and Steel have various similar characteristics, these are very different from each other. They are unique in their own ways. Both Iron and Steel have their own distinct characteristics and qualities. 

Comparison Table Between Iron and Steel

Parameter Of Comparison




Iron is a commonly used element.

Steel is a commonly used alloy which comprises of both iron and carbon.


The origin of Iron has been since the beginning of civilization.

The origin of Steel was made in the 14th century.


Iron is derived from minerals like magnetite and hematite. 

Steel is derived from Iron. 


Iron contains more than 2% of carbon. 

Steel contains less than 2% of carbon. 


Iron is easier to cast. 

Steel is difficult to cast as compared to Iron. 

Melting Point

The melting point of iron is low.

The melting point of Steel is high as compared to Iron. 

What is Iron?

Iron is a very commonly used metal in the day to day activities of the construction industry. The atomic number of iron is 26. Iron is a shiny and ductile element. The colour of it is chrome coloured and it looks like a significant amount of light. 

One of the most useful characteristics of iron is that it is a ferromagnetic metal. This makes it possible for it to attract various other ferromagnetic metals. Iron is basically an element that is used mostly in combination with other elements. 

The origin of Iron has not been known exactly. However, it is believed that some of the archaeological findings of the 3000 BC have made use of Iron. But most of these irons fall under the category of wrought iron. The proper iron came into existence during the 14th century. 

Iron is commonly used in the construction industry. All great old architectural structures like the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty have been made using Iron. In today’s date, Iron is commonly used as a base element in most of the construction processes. 

Another common use of Iron is that it is an essential mineral for the body. It is a key ingredient for providing the body with the essential nutrients. It helps the body by acting as a catalyst to produce haemoglobin. 

What is Steel?

Steel is one of the most commonly known alloys. It comprises mainly carbon and iron. It is a ferrous alloy. Steel is not necessarily metal, though it has similar characteristics and properties of a metal. It is an alloy- which is a mixture of various elements and components. 

Steel is not found on the Earth anywhere, be it its inner core or outer core. Most of the other elements are found freely and in large quantities on the earth. However, this is not the case with steel. Steel is made by mixing carbon and iron. Thus, it is a man-made element. 

Steel is basically derived from Iron. The addition of carbon to iron is what makes steel unique and different from iron. The carbon content of steel is very high. It contains more than 2% of carbon. Though it seems like a small quantity, it is this carbon that causes various changes in the properties of steel.

Steel is very commonly used as it is harder as well as more powerful than iron. However, it is not an essential mineral for the body. The body does not need to consume any kind of steel to stay healthy. 

Main Differences Between Iron and Steel

  1. Iron is a ductile metal whereas, on the other hand, Steel is an alloy made up of iron and carbon.
  2. Iron has been known as used by mankind since the beginning of civilization whereas, on the other hand, Steel was known to mankind much later.
  3. Iron has a low melting point whereas, on the other, Steel has a high melting point.
  4. Iron contains less than 2% of carbon whereas, on the other hand, Steel contains more than 2% of carbon.
  5. Iron is less expensive to cast whereas on the other hand, Steel is more expensive to cast. 
  6. Iron is derived from various minerals like magnetite and hematite whereas, on the other hand, Steel is derived from Iron.
  7. Iron is less stable as compared to Steel, whereas Steel is more stable than Iron.


Iron and Steel have various similar properties and characteristics which makes it difficult to distinguish one from the other. Both of these are very popular materials for the construction industry. 

However, even if these two terms are often confused with each other, there is a major difference between both of them. Iron is a commonly used metal whereas steel is a commonly used alloy. Iron is found naturally on the Earth whereas steel has to be made by man, by combining carbon and iron. 


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=c947L8YJerUC&oi=fnd&pg=PA131&dq=iron+and+steel&ots=sRia67jDtj&sig=hMmE4cSkcatFxgtbBoR_mQzaXMc
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421597000645