Wrought iron and steel may seem similar on the surface, but these two metal alloys possess different raw materials, properties, and industrial and decorative applications.
While people sometimes use the terms "wrought iron" and "steel" interchangeably, wrought iron combines pure iron ore with a glassy material called iron silicate, while steel also contains carbon, according to Chemguide.co.uk.
Both metals go through a firing process to give them strength. Wrought iron forms during charcoal firing or as a byproduct of cast iron production, according to the Real Wrought Iron Company. Steel forging adds and removes various compounds and oxides to create the final alloy.
Steel possesses greater tensile strength than wrought iron. Steel may show more vulnerability to corrosion than wrought iron, with the exception of stainless steel.
Wrought iron and mild steel may bear a close resemblance at first glance, but close inspection by an expert often reveals rougher workmanship and more corrosion in the steel product.
Cheaper, more lightweight materials such as aluminum and other alloys have largely replaced true wrought iron in many home applications, despite the greater durability of wrought iron.