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  • The elements in steel change depending on the individual requirements and use. However, here is an A to Z list of elements.

    ElementDescription
    Aluminium (Al)Aluminium holds atomic number 13 and the symbol AI. During the steelmaking process, aluminium is widely added as a deoxidizer to remove oxygen. Furthermore, when used in reheated steels, it can control grain-size and is one of the most effective elements in controlling growth before quenching.
    Boron (B)Boron holds atomic number 5 and the symbol B. Its use in steel is to increase hardenability, giving the steel extra strength and toughness before beginning tempering.
    Cadmium (Cd)Cadmium holds atomic number 48 and the symbol Cd. Cadmium is used as a metallic coating that provides corrosion protection. Industries such as aerospace often use cadmium due to the increased protection for parts.
    Carbon (C)Carbon holds atomic number 6 and the symbol C. Carbon is considered by many to be the most important element of steel. Since increasing carbon increases the hardness, strength and hardenability of steel. Steel often gets referred to as mild, medium or high carbon content. For example, high carbon steel contains around 0.45% to 1.50% carbon.
    Cobalt (Co)Cobalt holds atomic number 27 and the symbol Co. High-speed steels have cobalt added to them to improve hot hardness. When added to steel, Cobalt increases the martensitic transformation temperature and decreased austenite in the steel.
    Copper (Cu)Copper holds atomic number 29 and the symbol Cu. Copper is often added to steel to enhance its corrosion resistance. Adding copper will prevent any rust that may otherwise appear but it should only be added to steel that is used in corrosive environments.
    Chromium (Cr)Chromium holds atomic number 24 and the symbol Cr. This powerful element in steel is used to increase hardenability and machinability. Furthermore, it substantially improves corrosion resistance.
    Iron (Fe)Iron holds atomic number 26 and the symbol Fe. Iron is the main ingredient in the majority of steel forms and although it rusts easily it makes up 90% of metal that is refined.
    Lead (Pb)Lead holds atomic number 82 and the symbol Pb. Lead is an alloying element of steel and has no improvements on the mechanical properties, but does improve the machinability of the steel.
    Manganese (Mn)Maganese holds atomic number 25 and the symbol Mn. Manganese helps with the deoxidation of steel. It’s a crucial element that helps in manufacturing, converting iron into the desired form.
    Molybdenum (Mo)Molybdenum holds atomic number 42 and the symbol Mo. Molybdenum helps massively with steel to increase hardenability, toughness, and corrosion resistance. Furthermore, Mo has one of the highest melting points of all elements of steel.
    Nickel (Ni)Nickel holds atomic number 28 and the symbol Ni. Nickel is added to steel by manufacturers to increase its toughness, hardenability and ductility.
    Niobium (Nb)Niobium holds atomic number 41 and the symbol Nb. Niobium is a fantastic element to use within the automotive industry as it increases high-temperature strength, toughness and corrosion resistance.
    Nitrogen (N)Nitrogen holds atomic number 7 and the symbol N. Nitrogens use in steel improves yield, grains size and corrosion resistance. When nitrogen is specifically added to austenitic steels it improves hardening rate, strength and wear.
    Oxygen (O)Oxygen holds atomic number 8 and the symbol O. The majority of steel worldwide is produced in the basic oxygen process (BOP), which involves blowing pure oxygen into a bath of molten blast furnace iron. The purpose of this is decarburization, which is to decrease the level of carbon.
    Phosphorus (P)Phosphorus holds atomic number 15 and the symbol P. Added phosphorus increases the yield and tensile strength. Furthermore, P can improve machinability and atmospheric corrosion resistance.
    Selenium (Se)Selenium holds atomic number 34 and the symbol Se. Selenium helps to maintain a tough underlying body to meet challenging operating environments. Ultimately, selenium helps steel to have greater machineability.
    Silicon (Si)Silicon holds atomic number 14 and the symbol Si. Silicon’s use of steel increases strength and hardness. Silicon helps to purify the iron ore during the manufacturing process and is used as a standard deoxidizer.
    Sulfur (S)Sulfur holds atomic number 16 and the symbol S. Sulfur is known to improve machinability in steel but lowers transverse ductility. On the other hand, when steel is low in manganese and high in sulfur it can have adverse impacts.
    Tantalum (Ta)Tantalum holds atomic number 73 and the symbol Ta. Tantalum is added during the steel manufacturing process to increase strength, ductility and to increase the melting point.
    Tellurium (Te)Tellurium holds atomic number 52 and the symbol Te. Tellurium is added in small amounts to improve fabrication properties such as bending, cutting and shaping.
    Tin (Sn)Tin holds atomic number 50 and the symbol Sn. Sn is usually used to prevent rusting or increase corrosion resistance.
    Titanium (Ti)Titanium holds atomic number 22 and the symbol Ti. Titanium is often added during steel manufacturing as it increases strength and corrosion resistance properties. High-performance products often require titanium such as surgical tools, tennis rackets and mobile phones.
    Tungsten (W)Tungsten holds atomic number 74 and the symbol W. Tungsten has been used as an alloying element in high-speed steels and tool steels for many years, as it increases hardness and the speed of tools.
    Vanadium (V)Vanadium holds atomic number 23 and the symbol V. Vanadium is an additive for steel improving the corrosion resistance of high-speed steels. Also, it helps control the grain size, keeping it small.
    Zinc (Zn)Zinc holds the atomic number 30 and the symbol Zn. Zinc is used throughout the steel making industries to coat and protect steels from rusting in weather, temperature and oxygen environments.
    Zirconium (Zr)Zirconium holds atomic number 40 and the symbol Zr. Zirconium decreases the austenite grain size and can be added to improve toughness and ductility.

    For more information and further breakdowns on chemical elements, please visit chemical elements alphabetically listed. If you’d like to speak to a member of our team, call 0114 233 5291.