Carbon vs stainless steel: which one is better? The answer depends on the project. If you know the difference between stainless and carbon steel, you can decide which one lines up with your project goals.
Pennsylvania Steel Co. is a leading choice for steel products and services in the eastern United States. We can teach you everything you need to know about the stainless steel vs carbon steel debate. Plus, we can show you when to use carbon steel vs stainless steel and vice versa. That way, you can make an informed decision about what type of steel is the best option for your next project.
What Is Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is the world’s most popular metal — and it is easy to understand why. This type of steel consists of iron and carbon, along with chromium and other alloying elements that protect against corrosion. This helps protect against rust that commonly occurs with standard steel.
Along with corrosion resistance, stainless steel offers amazing strength and durability compared to other types of steel. It can also withstand high and low temperatures without deteriorating, is easy to clean, and maintains its appearance for a long time.
What Is Carbon Steel?
Like stainless steel, carbon steel contains carbon and iron. However, it contains less alloy than stainless steel. Also, the composition of carbon steel can be up to 2% carbon. And a high volume of carbon can strengthen a piece of carbon steel to the point where it becomes nearly impossible to bend.
Carbon steel is often used in knives and other tools since it will likely retain its shape over time. Of course, carbon steel can still be brittle. If this type of steel is exposed to a high amount of pressure, it is more likely to break than bend.
Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel: Which One Is Right for You?
If you are unsure about when to use carbon steel vs stainless steel, you are not alone. Fortunately, we know the differences between carbon and stainless steel and are happy to share them with you.
Here’s a look at the key differences between these two types of steel.
1. Carbon Content
The basic ingredients of these steel options are identical. Yet, it is important to note that every steel is an alloy, but each one is not necessarily an alloy steel.
Stainless steel tends to have a carbon content of less than 1.2%. Comparatively, carbon steel has a carbon content of up to 2.5%, and the high level of carbon helps make this type of steel less prone to bending than its stainless counterpart.
2. Chromium Content
Carbon steel has less than 10.5% chromium content, while stainless is at or above this level. Chromium protects against moisture that can otherwise cause steel to rust. Therefore, stainless steel is less likely to rust than carbon.
3. Visual Appeal
You can probably tell the difference between stainless and carbon steel at first glance. Stainless is a shiny metal that continues to dazzle long after it’s produced. Meanwhile, carbon is strong but nowhere near as shiny as stainless.
When to Use Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel
Low, medium, or high-carbon steel can be used in everything from food cans to high-strength steel wire. For example, an automaker may utilize low-carbon steel to build car parts. Medium carbon steel can be utilized in things like railways and gears. High-carbon steel is commonly used for knives and repair tools.
It is common for companies to choose carbon steel pipe options over other types of piping. This is due to the fact that carbon steel piping tends to be stronger and more durable than many comparable options.
Stainless steel is a top choice in the culinary industry. It is frequently used in kitchen pans, shelves, appliances, and utensils.
Along with the culinary sector, hospitals may invest in stainless steel shelves since they are simple to clean and maintain. To date, stainless steel piping systems have been used by companies in petrochemical, food processing, and other industries.
High-Quality Steel from Pennsylvania Steel Company
Pennsylvania Steel Co. offers carbon and stainless steel products and services to companies of all sizes and across all sectors. If you are weighing the pros and cons of carbon and stainless steel for your next project, we’re here to help you out.
Contact Pennsylvania Steel Co. for all of your steel needs with fast delivery options. For more information or to request a free quote, please get in touch with us today.