ThePipingMart Blog Metals Difference Between Stainless Steel and Carbon Steel

Difference Between Stainless Steel and Carbon Steel

stainless steel and carbon steel, stainless steel vs carbon steel

When it comes to kitchenware, there are two main types of materials that are used: stainless steel and carbon steel. Both of these materials have their own pros and cons, so it’s important to know the difference before you make a purchase. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the key differences between stainless steel and carbon steel so that you can make an informed decision about which material is suitable for you.

What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is composed of iron, carbon, and at least 10.5% chromium. The chromium is critical because it reacts with oxygen to form a passive layer that prevents corrosion of the steel. This prevents stainless steel from rusting, which is important for outdoor site furnishings such as bollards installed in wet environments. The more chromium there is, the better the corrosion resistance.

What is Carbon Steel?

Carbon steel is an iron-carbon alloy that contains up to 2.1 weight percent of carbon. There is no minimum specified content of other alloying elements in carbon steels, but they frequently contain manganese. The maximum manganese, silicon, and copper content should be less than 1.65 weight percent, 0.6 weight percent, and 0.6 weight percent, respectively.

Carbon steel is the most common engineering and construction material for large-scale industrial applications such as marine structures, power plants, transportation, chemical processing, and petroleum production and refining.

Carbon steel vs stainless steel: Differences

Corrosion Resistance

The most obvious difference between carbon steel and stainless steel is the ability to resist corrosion.

Stainless steels are, as the name suggests, the more corrosion-resistant of the two types of steel. Both carbon steel and stainless steel contain a significant amount of iron, which oxidizes when exposed to air, resulting in rust.

Stainless steel is more corrosion-resistant than carbon steel due to the addition of chromium. Chromium combines oxygen more easily than iron. When chromium binds to oxygen, it forms a chromium oxide layer that protects the remaining material from degradation and corrosion.

Carbon steel vs stainless steel properties

Carbon steel and stainless steel are two of the most widely used materials in industrial applications, owing to their distinct properties. With carbon steel, oxidation occurs during use, resulting in rust over time. Stainless steel on the other hand is heat-resistant and much more resistant to corrosion than its carbon counterpart. Since it contains chromium, it creates an invisible layer that helps guard against corrosion. Strength wise, carbon steels can be up to 20 percent stronger than stainless steel but stainless steel has higher tensile strength which makes it difficult to break or permanently deform when subjected to an external force. When investing in any type of metals for your application, understanding the difference between these two choices will help you make a more informed decision.

Carbon steel vs stainless steel weight

When selecting steel for a project, the weight of the material is often an important factor to consider. Carbon steel and stainless steel offer distinct advantages and disadvantages when it comes to weight. When weighed on a similar scale, carbon steel typically weighs slightly less than stainless steel. This can make carbon steel a more attractive option if the project involves lifting or moving large components. However, the superiority of stainless steel lies in its corrosion-resistant qualities and overall durability; these features make it worth consideration even despite its greater weight. Ultimately, there are benefits to both kinds of steels that should be taken into consideration before deciding which one to use for projects.

Tensile and Yield Strength

Steel has a high tensile and yield strength, which means it is less likely to break or become deformed when strained. This distinct property makes it ideal for commercial buildings and infrastructure such as bridges.

The yield strength of carbon steel is relatively high, but the tensile strength is lower. It keeps its shape almost to the breaking point but breaks spontaneously when it gets there.

Stainless steel, on the other hand, has a low carbon content, which makes it softer than carbon steel. It also has a lower yield strength and is more susceptible to bending and denting than carbon steel.

Carbon steel vs stainless steel Price

Another factor to consider is the price difference between stainless and carbon steel. While different grades have different prices, stainless steels are generally more expensive than carbon steel.

This is typically due to the addition of alloying elements such as manganese, chromium, and others to chrome steels. The additional elements raise the price of carbon steel.

Steel made of carbon, In contrast, is typically composed of less expensive carbon and iron elements. Steel is a good option if you don’t have enough money to complete the next big project.


The appearance of the metal must be considered if the work requires an aesthetic appeal. When cosmetic appearance is important, stainless steel with specific finishes is generally preferred.

Although both are frequently sanded and polished to achieve a bright, shiny appearance, steel requires a transparent coat or paint shortly after the polishing process. If it is not used, the steel will tarnish and eventually rust.

Furthermore, if the stainless steel is scratched, it will retain its luster within the scratched area, whereas a painted piece of carbon steel will need to be repainted, or it will corrode.


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