How is Iron Made Into Steel?

by Jason Gordon; Updated September 26, 2017
How is Iron Made Into Steel?

Iron Vs Steel

Iron was the dominant metal for use in building and machinery until the modern era. Iron is still the main component of steel but when impurities are removed in the steel-making process, a stronger, lighter material results (steel). Steel is used in almost all modern buildings, automobiles, aircraft and appliances.

BOS Process

Basic Oxygen Steel-Making (BOS) is the most efficient and popular modern steel-making process. Carbon rich pig-iron is heated until it is molten. Then it is put into a ladle (large container). The molten iron is pre-treated to remove impurities like silicon, sulfur and phosphorus. The iron is then moved into the BOS container and a lance is dropped inside that will blow 99 percent pure oxygen into the iron at a speed greater than Mach 1.

Ignition and Alloy Making

The blast of pure oxygen ignites the carbon in the steel. Carbon leaves in the form of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Other chemical impurities also burn off. Once the process is complete, the steel is combined with certain elements to make alloys according to customer specifications. Carbon steel has added carbon. Stainless steel has added chromium and nickel. Titanium steel has added titanium.

About the Author

Jason Gordon is a professional writer and editor. In addition to online work, he has written for "Texas Highways," "AAA Southwest," "Glimpse," the "University of Washington Daily" and the "Dallas Morning News." Gordon's passions include animals, reading and finding the perfect pairings of pastry and espresso.

Photo Credits

  • American Iron and Steel Institute