Steel Facts That Might Surprise You

Steel is one interesting material. It is the framework of our modern society, and we all depend on it on a daily basis to lead our modern lives. Take a moment to learn more about the versatility of steel through a few interesting facts about steel that you may have never heard of.

Steel Itself

  • While iron is a common element on Earth, it is also widely found elsewhere. It is believed to be the 6th most common element in the Universe.
  • Steel alloys are made from iron ore. Pure iron is rarely found in the earth’s crust. While there are many types of steel, all steel is made from removing impurities from iron.
  • While iron is a fairly strong material on its own, steel can be 1000 times stronger than iron.Henry Bessemer
  • Steel naturally rusts from a chemical reaction when exposed to oxygen and water. To prevent rusting, steel is often coated or painted with a material, such as galvanization, which coats steel with zinc.
  • Rusting of steel slows down or even stops entirely when an electrical current is passing through steel. This is known as Cathodic Protection, and is used for pipelines, ships, and steel in concrete.

Steel History

  • The steel industry was really born after Henry Bessemer (the man on the right) developed the Bessemer converter that changed the way steel was produced. It made steel production much more efficient, allowing larger quantities of steel produced at less expensive prices all around the world.
  • The first major mass demand for steel came from railroad companies. Many industries soon followed in demanding steel for their needs. Steel was first used in mass production to construct railroad tracks.
  • While steel has been around for a while, 75% of existing steel types have been developed in the last 20 years.

Steel In Your Life

  • Two thirds of all cans in grocery stores around the world are made out of steel. Also, recycling a single steel saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for almost 4 years.
  • Speaking of recycling, steel is the most recycled material in the world! Unlike any other recycled material, steel can be recycled repeatedly without any loss in quality.
  • While it may seem like a lot of energy is required to produce steel, it is not nearly as much as it used to be. The amount of energy necessary to produce a tonne of steel has been cut in half over the last 30 years.
  • You are likely surrounded by steel at the moment. A typical household appliance is made up of 65% steel products.
  • Eiffel TowerSteel is in your electronics too! Of all the materials that make up an average computer, about 25% of it is steel.

Steel Industry

  • In 2013, the world crude steel production totaled a whopping 1,582.5 Million tonnes. That’s equivalent to the weight of about 158,249 Eiffel Towers.
  • Japan is the second leading producer of steel in the world. China by far produces and consumes the most amount of steel - making up 1/3 in both categories. The United States is the third leading producer of steel.