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Ferritic Steel vs. Carbon Steel – What’s the Difference

Ferritic Steel vs. Carbon Steel

When it comes to steel, there are a number of different varieties on the market. Two types of steel often confused by laymen and even experienced professionals alike are ferritic steel and carbon steel. Here is an overview of the differences between these two materials, so you can decide which one is right for your project.

What is Ferritic Steel?

Ferritic steel is stainless steel with more than 10.5% chromium content and a relatively low carbon content (less than 0.2%). This combination gives ferritic steel its corrosion-resistant properties, making it ideal for applications where corrosion protection is necessary. It also has good ductility and formability, which allows it to be used in many applications. Additionally, ferritic steel is magnetic, giving it certain advantages over other types of stainless steel when used in certain applications such as transformers and motors.

What is Carbon Steel?

Carbon steel is a type of alloy that contains iron and carbon in varying amounts depending on the application and desired properties. In general, carbon steels have higher tensile strength than ferritic steels due to their higher carbon content. This makes them ideal for applications that require high strength, such as construction projects or heavy machinery components. Additionally, they are much less expensive than stainless steel because they do not contain any chromium or other alloys that increase the cost. However, carbon steels do not have the same level of corrosion resistance as ferritic steels because they lack the chromium content found in ferritic.

Difference Between Ferritic Steel and Carbon Steel

The primary difference between ferritic and carbon steels lies in their composition, specifically their levels of chromium content and carbon content, respectively. As previously mentioned, ferritic contains more than 10% chromium, while carbon steels typically contain less than 0.2%. This difference gives them vastly different properties, with ferritic offering superior corrosion protection while having lower tensile strength compared to carbon steels which offer higher tensile strength but lack corrosion protection due to their lower chromium content.

  • Ferritic steel contains less carbon than carbon steel.
  • Ferritic steel is magnetic, while carbon steel is not.
  • Ferritic steel is less strong and harder than carbon steel.
  • Ferritic steel is resistant to corrosion, while carbon steel is not.
  • Ferritic steel is typically used in automotive applications, while carbon steel is used in construction and infrastructure.


Knowing the difference between ferritic steel and carbon steel can help you make an informed decision about which material will be best for your specific application or project needs. Ferric steel offers superior corrosion protection but lower tensile strength, while carbon steel offers higher tensile strength but lacks corrosion resistance due to its lower chromium content. Be sure to consider all aspects before making your decision, so you get the best material for your project!

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