If you’re walking down the street with a friend in a city surrounded by skyscrapers and buildings you might turn to them and ask what they think these buildings are made out of. If they say “Some kind of metal like steel” then they’re actually wrong. While many buildings are made out of both metal and steel the two terms are not interchangeable, because technically steel is not a metal.
This is a common mistake made by many people and easy one to make at that. Metal and steel can both be physical and dense. They can give off a shiny sheen depending on the kind of metal or steel they are, and they are both frequently used in construction.
Why is steel not metal?
So why is it that steel and metal are not the same? Well first let’s figure out what a metal is. Metal is made of naturally occurring elements that are present in the earth’s crust. Metals are items such as nickel, copper, or iron.
Steel on the otherhand is not a naturally occurring substance. It was created by humans and is an alloy made from metal. Alloys are created by mixing metal with one or more elements to create something new. In the case of steel that is iron and carbon.
How is steel made?
The way steel is made is fascinating. It takes iron mined from the earth which is then put into high temperatures so that silica, phosphorous, and sulfur can be removed from the ore. The smallest amount of carbon can then be added to the iron to make steel. An addition of less than one percent can turn the iron into steel, but some steel products have more depending on what the steel will be used for. Before the process is complete however pure oxygen is blown through the liquid steel to remove any excess carbon that exists in the steel.
Steel can also be recycled and re-used by melting down scrap steel to a liquid form. That liquid steel then has pure oxygen blown through it, similar to when being made from iron, before it is settled and once again turned into a solid object.
What are the differences between steel and the average metal?
So the steel is complete, but once its finally been re-solidified what exactly makes it different from a pure metal? To start, steel is much stronger which is why it’s such a popular item for large buildings and big construction projects. You can trust on steel to be there for you and withstand the test of time.
Metal on the other hand is more malleable. It doesn’t break easily by any means, but it’s a much more influential kind of material. This is why jewelry and art pieces are usually made from metal and not steel because they can be bent to the creator’s will while steel is far more difficult to push around.
Of course, both have their uses depending on the scenario and both are popular items in construction, but steel is the ultimate choice for large scale construction projects, because through the creation of steel man has created something that can withstand absurd levels of force.
Obviously as a steel company, Steel, Beams, Columns preference is to use steel in our projects, but metal is just as valuable as steel, and anyone can see that. We love steel, but all metals are okay in our eyes.