What is Steel and How is Steel Made?

Steel is a metal alloy made of iron and carbon that is strong and durable. It typically contains a few tenths of a percent of the carbon to make it stronger and more fracture-resistant than other forms of iron. 

The steel industry can be broken down into two main processes: solid-state and liquid-state. Solid-state is used to make steel via the blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF) route, while liquid-state is used to make steel via the electric arc furnace (EAF) route. Approximately 90% of steel today is made through liquid-state production. 

How is steel made?

What is Steel? 

As a result of the Proto-Germanic adjective stahlij, which means made of steel, and stahlaz, meaning “to stand firm,” steel has come to be known as a noun. Remove oxygen and other impurities from iron ore, and you’ll get iron. Steel is created by combining iron with carbon, reclaimed steel, and trace amounts of different components.

Steel is commonly used in construction, an alloy of iron and carbon with less than 2% carbon, 1% manganese, and minor quantities of silicon, phosphorus, Sulphur, and oxygen. Globally, steel is the most common building material. It may be found in everything from automobiles and construction equipment to refrigerators and washing machines to cargo ships and medical scalpels. 

What is Steel Made of? 

To produce steel, first, you have to make pig iron. To make pig iron, we use raw materials like coke, coal-tar pitch, pig iron ores, scraps of iron and steel, etc. From the blast furnace operation emerges a molten metal called pig iron. Pig iron can be converted into steel by an alloying process.

The carbon content in the pig iron is 3–4%. But in the steel, it is less than 1.8%. Several processes can be used to convert pig iron into steel: open-hearth furnace process (also called basic oxygen process), Bessemer process (an oxygen blowing technique), LD process (a refined version of Bessemer process), and electro slag remelting (ESR) process.

Adding alloying elements like chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo), vanadium (V), manganese (Mn), silicon (Si), etc., gives different properties to the resulting steel depending on its application.] 

History Of Steel Production  

Ironware found in Anatolia’s Kaman-Kalehöyük archaeological site (dating from 1800 BC) has the oldest known examples of steel manufacturing, which dates back over 4,000 years. While the Celtiberians in Spain employed steel weapons like the falcata, Scipio Africanus, armed with Boetian Noric steel swords, beat Hannibal at Zama. 

How is Steel Made? 

To make steel, pig iron is melted and some of the carbon is oxidized in the alloy. Most other contaminants (especially phosphorus) are also oxidized along with the excess carbon. A coal-burning blast furnace or an electric arc furnace can be used to melt metal. To oxidize a melt, a gas such as air or oxygen is blown into it.

how is steel made

Techniques for making steel include:

  • As an oxidizer, the blast furnaces of Bessemer and Siemens-Martins employ air. As a result, they are now all but extinct.
  • The Essential Oxygen Oxygen is the oxidizer in the steelmaking process. Because of the high pH of the refractories employed in the furnace liner, it is referred to as “basic.” This process is used in the manufacture of steel throughout the globe to an extent of around 60 percent.
  • An electric arc is formed between the iron and the graphite electrodes, resulting in the iron melting. It necessitates the availability of inexpensive electricity. The remaining 40% comes primarily from smaller foundries and places where scrap metal is the iron supply. Oxygen is used as an oxidizer in this procedure as well.

What is Blast Furnace?

 Smelting industrial metals, such as pig iron, lead, and copper, is done in a blast furnace, which is a type of metallurgical furnace. By “blast,” we mean supplying combustion air that has been “forced” or provided at pressures greater than atmospheric.

The top of a blast furnace receives fuel (coke), ores, and flux (limestone) continually. Tuyeres, on the other hand, are pipes inserted into the furnace’s bottom part to supply a hot blast of air (occasionally enriched with oxygen). As the material descends, the furnace’s chemical processes take place.

The final products are typically molten metal and slag phases tapped from the bottom of the furnace, as well as waste gases (flue gas) departing the top. When heated, carbon monoxide-rich combustion gases come into touch with ore and flux, they create a countercurrent exchange and chemical reaction.

How To Make a Blast Furnace?

Refractory lined steel cylinders are used in blast furnaces. The machine will stop working once the lining wears out, which might take several years. Between 1400 and 2100oF, a rush of hot air blows into the furnace’s bottom chamber, known as a blast furnace.

  • A blast furnace produces molten iron by following these steps:
  • The top of the furnace is continually filled with a mixture of iron ore, coke, and limestone.
  • The bottom of the furnace receives a rush of heated air.
  • The additional heat supplied by coke raises the charge’s temperature.
  • The reducing agent (carbon monoxide) is created when coke combines with airborne oxygen to remove oxygen from the ore.
  • Impurities in the kiln cause the limestone to react, generating a slag that rises to the top.
  • The molten iron is taken out of the furnace every hour and sent on for further processing.

 What Is An Electric Arc Furnaces (EAF)? 

 In an electric arc furnace, three carbon rods (electrodes) are placed through the furnace ceiling, which is made of steel. Scrap metal and alloys make up the bulk of the charge.

Steel is made in an electric arc furnace by following these procedures:

  • In the furnace, the fuel is placed in a solid-state charge.
  • Intense heat is generated when a strong electric current jumps between the electrodes.
  • Third, the resulting steel results from melting charges and chemical reactions.
  • Additives are used to improve performance.
  • The molten steel is poured out of the furnace.
  • In India today, most steel is produced in electric furnaces, which are less expensive to install and more versatile than open-hearth furnaces. These mills can produce carbon and alloy steels of various compositions.

 Components of Steel: 

Some metals, such as iron and steel, include additional elements in addition to iron, such as nickel, copper, and other metals. These components can be unintentionally included or purposefully removed.

  • A nonmetallic element, carbon (C), is found in coal, petroleum, and limestone. It forms a variety of biological and inorganic compounds. It is the primary means of reinforcement among carbon steels and low-alloy steels. 
  • This brittle metal is found in the pyrolusite ore of manganese (Mn). As a result of this reaction, steel has a greater resistance when heated.
  • Metal surfaces are protected against corrosion by the nonmetallic element phosphorus (P).
  • In volcanic and sedimentary deposits, sulphur is a nonmetallic element found in abundance. As iron sulphide, sulphur can cause steel to be excessively porous and susceptible to breaking.
  • Rocks, sand, and clay all include silicon, the second most prevalent element in the Earth’s crust. In the steelmaking process, it serves as a deoxidizer.
  • Igneous rocks contain nickel (Ni), a complex, metallic material. Stainless steel’s heat and corrosion resistance would be reduced if it lacked nickel.
  • There is a metallic element called chromium (Cr) in the Earth’s crust. Stainless steel’s resistance to oxidation and corrosion is improved via this process.

Properties of steel:  


 The hardenability of a material determines how easily it can be hardened by thermal treatment. Steel with an adequate or high hardenability level should have hardness levels specified during the design phase.


All materials have flaws. Steel flaws are microscopic fissures. If the steel isn’t robust enough, the ‘crack’ might spread quickly without plastic deformation, resulting in a ‘brittle fracture’ Thickness, tensile stress, stress raisers, and cooler temperatures enhance brittle fracture risk. Several aspects should be addressed when specifying steel’s toughness and brittle fracture resistance.


The ability of a metal to be warped under compression is known as malleability. Steel, for example, has the physical quality of not breaking when subjected to extreme stress. By blowing or rolling, a pliable cloth might be flattened.

Yield strength:

Yield strength is the most prevalent design feature, as it’s the basis for most design code principles. In European Standards for structural carbon steels (including weathering steel), the principal designation is yield strength, e.g., S355 steel has a minimum yield strength of 355 N/mm2.

Tensile strength:

Tensile means stretchable. Tensile strength is steel’s resistance to tensile breakage. It indicates when steel changes from elastic (temporary) to plastic (permanent) deformation—measured in force per cross-sectional area. Steel will split when pulled past its tensile stress point. Tensile strength shows how much tensile stress steel can bear before failing ductile or brittle.


Steel’s ductility is affected by the kind and amount of alloying elements present. For example, adding more carbon to the material would enhance its strength while also reducing its ductility. A material’s hardness measures how well it can withstand abrasion or penetration.

Types Of Steel

Carbon Steel:

Carbon steel is dull and corrosive. Low, medium, and high carbon steel subtypes contain.30%,.60%, and 1.5% carbon, respectively. They are named because they contain extremely few additional alloying elements. They’re strong, so they’re used to produce knives, high-tension lines, and automobile parts.

Alloy Steel:

Afterward, we have alloy steel, a blend of many metals, including copper and nickel. In general, these are less expensive, more corrosive resistant, and more commonly used in constructing automobiles and ship hulls, and mechanical projects. The concentration of the components in this one determines its strength.

Tools Steel:

Hardness and resistance to heat and scrapes make tool steel one of the most sought-after metals in the world. Hammers and other metal tools are among the most typical uses for this type of instrument. Cobalt, molybdenum, and tungsten are the main ingredients of tool steel, which is why it has such high heat resistance and durability properties.

Stainless Steel:

In addition to being extremely strong, tool steel is known for its ability to withstand heat and scratches. Hammers and other metal tools are among the most popular uses for this material. This is why tool steel is so durable and heat resistant; it comprises elements like molybdenum and tungsten.

What is Carbon Steel? 

Modern steels are composed of varying combinations of alloy metals to fulfill various purposes. The most common form of steel is carbon steel, a variety of iron and carbon that accounts for 90% of steel production.

Low-alloy steels can contain up to 10% alloy elements, usually molybdenum, manganese, chromium, or nickel, to increase the strength of thick sections. High-strength low-alloy steels contain only 1.5% manganese to provide additional strength without increasing cost significantly. 

What is Alloy Steel?  

In order to withstand corrosion, stainless steel include at least 11% chromium, which is frequently coupled with nickel. There is a difference between ferritic stainless steel and austenitic steel in magnetism. In the steel industry, corrosion-resistant steels go by the acronym CRES. 

Alloy steel is a type of steel that has become popular in recent years. This type of steel includes chromium and vanadium, which give the metal strength and durability. Some more modern steels include tool steel, which is high in tungsten or cobalt. This helps create a cutting edge by increasing the solution hardening process.

Tool steel is generally used for axes, drills, and other devices that need a sharp, long-lasting cutting edge. Weathering steels like Cor-ten, which weather by gaining a solid rusty surface and may be used un-painted, are another special-purpose alloy. Maraging steel contains nickel and other elements but little carbon (0.01%). In this way, it creates solid but malleable steel. 

What is Tools Steel? 

The term “tool steel” can apply to a wide range of carbon and alloy steels that are frequently used in manufacturing various types of tools.

The steel used in the production of tools is produced on a considerably smaller scale than the steel used in the production of consumer items. The implementation of stringent quality control processes guarantees that a particular grade of tool steel will be capable of carrying out a designated activity, such as machining or perforating.

The heat-treated condition of tool steel is the most common form in which it is utilized. Because they have larger ratios of metals like vanadium and niobium, many high-carbon tool sheets of steel are also more resistant to corrosion. This is because of the elements’ properties.

What is Stainless Steel? 

An alloy of iron, chromium, and in certain instances nickel and other metals, stainless steel is corrosion-resistant. As the “green material of the century,” stainless steel may be entirely and indefinitely recycled.

In reality, the recovery rate in the construction industry is close to 100%. Environmentally friendly and inert, stainless steel also fits the requirements of sustainable building because of its extended lifespan. When it comes into touch with water, it does not release molecules that might alter its makeup.

Environmentally friendly stainless steel is also visually beautiful, easy to maintain and incredibly durable. Stainless steel has a wide range of advantages over other materials. Due to its widespread use, stainless steel may be found in a wide variety of common household items.

It also has a significant impact on a wide range of other fields, such as energy, transportation, construction, research, medical, food, and logistics, among others.


What are 4 types of steel? 

Carbon, Alloy, Stainless, and Tool are the four steel categories.
Carbon steels contain simply carbon and iron. This set of four steel grades accounts for 90% of steel manufacturing.
Adding nickel, copper, chromium, and aluminium creates alloy steels. These components improve steel’s strength, machinability, flexibility, and corrosion resistance.
Stainless steels are alloyed with 10-20% chromium, nickel, silicon, manganese, and carbon.
These steels have strong corrosion resistance and can tolerate adverse weather, making them safe for outdoor construction.
Tool steels are used for cutting and drilling. Tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium provide heat resistance and durability.

What defines steel? 

Steel is an alloy composed of iron, with typically a few tenths of a percent of carbon as an additive. Many other elements may be added to produce different properties. Stainless steel, which is corrosion- and oxidation-resistant, contains 11% chromium.

What are the uses of steel? 

Steel is the world’s most important material. It is used in every aspect of our lives, from cars and homes to surgical scalpels and cargo ships. By recycling steel, we can continue to use it for new products, rather than wasting it.

What is the strength of steel? 

Carbon steel has a tensile strength of 841 megapascals (MPa), whereas structural steel’s is 400 MPa. Steel with varying density has varied tensile strength ratings.
Steel grade affects the value of yield strength. The yield strength in tension of mild steel (MS) is around 250 MPa, whereas the yield strength in tension of Fe415 grade is 415 MPa.

How does iron turn into steel? 

To make steel, one must separate the iron from oxygen and add a tiny amount of carbon. This is done by heating iron ore (an ore is a rock that contains metal) to over 1,700 degrees Celsius (3,000 degrees Fahrenheit) in the presence of oxygen from the air and coke — a type of coal.

Can you make steel without coal? 

Almost all new steel is produced using iron oxide and coking coal. Coking coal is a special type of bituminous-rank coal used in blast furnaces. While recycling has increased worldwide, there is no technology to make steel at scale without using coal.

Is steel just iron? 

The distinction between iron and steel may be summed up in the fact that iron is an element, but steel, in its purest and most elemental form, is an alloy of iron and carbon.


The manufacture of steel is one of the most important processes involved in the steel industry. The manufacture of steel by any of these methods has been continuously increasing over the past few decades, and further expansion of steel production capacity is anticipated to satisfy the demands of the future market.

The steel manufacturing methods in the liquid state and steel production in the solid-state are both necessary components of the industry; yet, there is still potential for research and innovation before fully automated steel production.

Ayush Badhoni

Hi, This is Ayush Badhoni a passionate blogger from India, loves in researching and writing on various topics like home appliances, gadgets, beauty e.t.c I love to review products and give the best to my readers.

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