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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: May 2012

1 - General Introduction



The terms iron and steel are often confusing to the general public. Iron is an element (26 on the periodic table). The word iron comes from the Scandinavian word iarn. The chemical symbol Fe comes from the Latin word for iron, ferrum. The French word for iron is fer, the German word, Eisen. The Dutch word is ijzeret, and the Spanish is hierro.

The word steel is used to describe almost all alloys of iron. It is often said that steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. However, many steels contain almost no carbon. Carbon contents of some steels are as low as 0.002% by weight. The most widely used steels are low-carbon steels that have less than 0.06% carbon. Low-carbon steels are used for automobile bodies, appliances, cans, and cabinets. Higher carbon contents are used in steel with higher strengths. Tools are made from steels containing up to about 1.2% carbon.

The Sanskrit word for steel is stakati. The German word is Stahl; the Russian, stalin; the French, acier; the Spanish acero and the Dutch, staal. Chalybs is the Latin word for steel.