The Uses of Iron

Sydney harbour bridge Darling harbour

Iron from meteorites was first used about 6000 years ago to make ornaments, weapons and tools. These days we use 20 times more iron (in the form of steel) than all the other metals put together. There are many different types of steel and other iron compounds. The table below shows the special properties and uses of some of these.

Name of iron compound main components properties uses
Cast iron iron + up to 5% carbon
Sometimes 1-3% silicon
rusts easily
hard
brittle
camp ovens
engine cylinder blocks
woks
Galvanised iron iron + zinc coating resists rusting
malleable
roofing
motor vehicle bodies
boats
Steel iron + less than 1% carbon hard
strong
malleable
buildings
machinery
transportation
cans & containers
household appliances
Stainless steel iron +
carbon
nickel
chromium
doesn't rust
malleable
cutlery
hospital equipment
motor vehicle parts
Tool steel iron +
carbon
vanadium,
chromium
tungsten
and/or molybdenum
very hard
very brittle
metal cutting tools
drill bits

NEXT: Read about how Iron is formed, or do the next quiz question.

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