What is wrought iron?

Karen Henry Article Casting design Information materials Metal Short Article Wrought iron

What is wrought iron?

Wrought iron is a purer iron with lower carbon content. The roughness of wrought iron gives the metal its unique antique-style. Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile and can be easily welded. 

How is wrought iron made?

Wrought iron was traditionally made in a bloomery furnace. 

About Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is commercially pure iron - with a very low carbon content. This is in contrast to steel, an alloy - another popular coat stand material (see steel coat stands) which has a higher carbon content. Steel = 2% carbon + iron.

Wrought iron is a fibrous material. This is due to the slag that is formed in the material during smelting. Slag gives wrought-iron a grainy feeling, almost resembling wood. The grain is especially visible when it is etched or bent.

Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile and easily welded. The perfect material for intricate coat stands!

Wrought Iron vs Cast Iron vs Steel

Wrought iron is not brittle and seldom breaks/snaps and as such wrought iron is used for more delicate ironwork. Wrought iron is easier to bend and is less prone to break than cast iron. Cast iron is more rigid. Wrought iron's ease to bend is also a disadvantage in that using anything made in wrought iron will slowly bend over time. 

Cast iron, on the other hand, will not bend easily - only at high temperatures (700C). Cast iron is very strong - but more brittle than wrought iron. Cast iron will snap suddenly under high strain.

Steel is iron with a small amount of carbon (0.2% to 2.1%). Carbon acts as a hardening agent preventing the iron crystal lattice from slipping past each other. Steel is more resistant to rust and is easier to weld than iron. Adding more carbon to steel, means harder, stronger steel - but less ductile. Steel is used in the building industry due to its high tensile (pulling) strength. Wrought iron is used for more decorative work. Cast iron is used for larger structures (bridges, beams) where more strength is required.

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