Aluminum and steel are very common substances that are used in everyday life and in almost everything we use. Aluminum is the most abundant metal on Earth. Steel is one of the most popular alloys. Though these two are used in similar applications, they are completely different from each other. Here are the comparisons of each:
What is Steel?
Steel is an alloy made by combining iron and other elements, the most common of these being carbon.
What is Aluminum?
Aluminum is an element that is found in the Earth’s crust and is the third most abundant element and the most abundant metal.
The Difference Between Steel and Aluminum
Steel: Steel is flexible, strong, and durable. Steel is a mixture of the elements iron and carbon. Iron is mined, smelted, the impurities are removed, carbon is added, and the result is carbon steel. This is the base for other types of steel, such as stainless and chrome-moly.
Aluminum: It is a lightweight, durable, and malleable metal. Bauxite is the base ingredient of aluminum which is a mineral mined primarily in tropical areas. The bauxite is ground into a thick paste called alumina, which is then smelted with molten cryolite and shocked with electricity. The ions separate, and the residual liquid cools and becomes aluminum.
Steel: Steel is stronger compared to aluminum. The amount of carbon in steel makes it heavier and unyielding. The higher amount of carbon in an alloy, the harder it becomes.
Aluminum: Weaker in general than steel. Some aluminum alloys are stronger than steel.
Steel: Steel is used for roads, railways, other infrastructure, appliances, buildings, transportation, aerospace, etc.
Aluminum: Aluminum is used for transportation, packaging, construction, utensils, electric transmission lines, paint, etc.
Steel: Heavier compared to aluminum. One of the biggest differences is in the material’s weight. Carbon steel is heavy.
Aluminum: Lighter compared to steel and preferred for its lightweight composition.
Steel: Steel is highly corrosive and usually needs paint or treatment to protect it from rust and corrosion especially if it will be in a moist, damp, or abrasive environment.
Aluminum: Aluminum is less corrosive. Aluminum generally doesn’t rust. There is no paint or coating to wear or scratch off. It has a high oxidation and corrosion resistance. When aluminum is oxidized, its surface will turn white and will sometimes pit.
Steel: 100% Recyclable.
Aluminum: 100% Recyclable.
Typically, steel is generally cheaper per pound than aluminum. Cost is always an essential factor to consider when making and using any product. The price of both Aluminum and Steel is continually fluctuating based on supply and demand, tariffs, fuel costs, and the price and availability of iron and bauxite ore.
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