Last edited 06 Sep 2021




[edit] Introduction

The term ferrous refers to metal compounds that contain iron. Iron is the chemical element most commonly found on Earth by mass, forming much of the Earth’s outer and inner core.

For more information, see Iron.

Ferruginous is a term related to ferrous. It is an adjective that is sometimes used to describe non-metallic substances (such as water and oil) that contain iron or have rust on their surface.

[edit] Types of ferrous metals

Ferrous metals are generally thought of as alloys because they are essentially iron ore with the addition of various amounts of a wide range of other substances. These combinations produce a variety of materials with different properties that can be used for a range of purposes.

The combination of iron ore with carbon produces substances referred to as non-alloy steels. In addition to wrought iron, these non-alloy steels include cast iron and low (or mild), medium and high carbon (or tensile) steel. Non-alloy steels generally have good thermal and electrical conductivity.

Non-alloy steels Characteristics Common applications
Cast iron Brittle (if thin); castable (in a mould); good compression strength; poor corrosion resistance.

Manhole covers.


Bench vices.

Low-carbon (or mild) steel Tough; easy to form, braze and weld; poor corrosion resistance. Nuts, bolts, screws.
High-carbon steel Hard but brittle; harder to work with than mild steel. Taps and tools.

Other common iron ore additions include:

  • Chromium.
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum.
  • Nickel.
  • Silicon.
  • Titanium.
  • Vanadium.

[edit] Characteristics and uses of ferrous metals

Most ferrous metals exhibit similar basic properties and have been used in a wide variety of applications. Common characteristics include:

[edit] Advantages and disadvantages

Some of the shared characteristics of ferrous metals produce distinct advantages and disadvantages:

[edit] Disadvantages

[edit] Advantages

  • Can be made less susceptible to corrosion through the addition of other elements or procedures.
  • Generally considered to be inexpensive.
  • Inherently strong (with the ability to be made even stronger through various processes).
  • Relatively high temperature and endurance limitations.

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