Steel Melting Point – The Ultimate Guide for Metallurgists

Steel melting point refers to the point at which steel changes its form from solid to liquid once heated. Metals have different melting points and so this article explains everything you need to know about steel melting points.

What is Metal Melting Point

Metal melting point refers to the point at which metal turns into liquid when subjected to extreme temperatures. At the melting point, both the solid and liquid state of the metal is at equilibrium.

What is the Melting Point of Steel

Generally, steel has a melting point of 1370°C/ 2500°F. That said, it’s also important to understand that steel takes different forms and each of these forms exhibits different melting points. Normally, the melting point of steel varies depending on the alloying elements as well as the chemical composition.

Melting Point of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is commonly used in the manufacture of kitchen utensils. The melting point of stainless steel ranges between 1375°C and 1530°C. This is equivalent to 2500°F and 2785°F. Talking of melting point, the elements present in stainless steel influence its melting point.

Stainless Steel Formability
Stainless Steel Formability

· Carbon Steel Melting Temperature

Carbon steel has a melting point of 1410°C which is equivalent to 2570°F. In addition to that, this grade of carbon steel can further be categorized as medium, high, and ultra-high carbon steel. For these, expect a melting point ranging from 1410 to 1540°C.

· Mild Steel Melting Temperature

Mild steel is made from carbon and iron. This type of steel has a melting point that falls between 1350°C and 1530°C. Keep in mind that its melting point is highly dependent on the amount of carbon present.

Normally, the amount of carbon present in this type of steel ranges from 0.05% to 0.03%. The higher the carbon content the lower the temperature and vice versa. Owing to its high melting temperature, mild steel is an ideal choice for forging.

· Tool Steel Melting Point

As the name implies, tool steel is used in the making of tools. It is the hardest type of steel and this explains why it’s well suited for making tools. With a carbon content ranging between 0.7 to 1.4%, tool steel exhibits a melting point ranging from 1400°C to 1425°C. This is equivalent to 2550°F to 2600°F.

· Alloy Steel Melting Temperature

Alloy steel is composed of several other elements such as nickel, chromium, silicon, and manganese just to mention some. There are two types of alloy steel namely high alloy steel and low alloy steel. High alloy steel has a lower melting point of 1415°C as compared to low alloy steel which has a melting point of 1432°C.

· Maraging Steel Melting Point

Maraging steel is known to have a low carbon-iron alloy and exhibits high strengths while maintaining its ductility. It has a melting point of 1413°C which is equivalent to 2575°F. In most cases, you will find it used in the manufacture of bicycle frames, gild club heads, and fencing sword blades just to mention a few.

Best Way to Melt Steel

Melting of steel can be done in several ways including:

Melting Steel in Furnace

You can either use an electric arc furnace or a foundry furnace to melt your steel. Once the steel is loaded into the electric arc furnace, electrodes in the furnace facilitate the production of electric currents that melt the steel.

On the other hand, a foundry furnace uses propane to heat the steel. The latter is slower and hence not suitable for large-scale productions.

Electric Melting Furnace
Electric Melting Furnace

Induction Melting Steel

Induction melting is commonly used to melt different metals and steel is no exception. Not only is it faster but also saves energy.

In this method, electric currents are used to melt steel through induction heating. Once the induction furnace is heated to melting temperature, the steel is loaded inside and heated.

Induction Melting System
Induction Melting System

Electroslag Re-melting Steel

This process is mostly used to refine and re-melt steel using electrodes in turn producing high-grade ingots.

A furnace is one of the best and most common ways used to melt steel.

Electroslag Re-melting System
Electroslag Re-melting System

Types of Steel Melting Furnaces

Four main types of melting furnaces are commonly used to melt steel namely;

i. Electric Arc Furnace- An electric arc furnace is used to heat steel using carbon electrodes. The process of heating comprises three main methods including melting, refining, and tapping.

ii. Open Hearth Furnace -It is one of the oldest melting furnaces which heats steel through the burning of fuel in a hearth.

iii. Crucible Furnace – Steel is loaded into a crucible (a container that holds steel) and later put inside the furnace chamber where heating takes place.

Crucible Furnace
Crucible Furnace

iv. Induction Furnace

Induction furnace operates by generating heat which is facilitated by electromagnetic induction. However, it is ideal for small production industries.

Materials Used to Melt Steel

First things first, you need to heat carbon and iron to form steel. As such, a furnace is used to heat steel to the desired melting point. Depending on the type of furnace you select, you might need a crucible.

This is a container that holds the steel inside the furnace during the melting process. Additionally, electricity, natural gas, or propane will help you achieve the desired melting temperatures

Factors Determining Steel Melting Temperature

The melting temperature is often determined by the element composition of the metal. Let’s take for example steel, it contains two elements namely carbon and iron. The more the element composition the lower the melting point and vice versa.

Other element that determine steel melting temperature are:

· Force of Attraction between Individual Steel Molecules

The strong attractive force between molecules implies a higher melting temperature. Remember, different steel grades have varying molecular forces of attraction.

Again, most steel grades have a compact structure that only melts at relatively high temperatures.

· Impurities

Steel may have different alloying elements to achieve specific application requirements. Usually, these elements alongside other compounds form “impurities.”

Depending on the type of elements, the melting point of steel may be slightly higher or lower.

Of course, other variables such as pressure or environmental conditions also determine the steel melting temperature.

Why Knowledge of Steel Melting Point Matters

Knowing the melting point of steel or any metal, in general, is critical for the effective functioning of parts and machines.

Component failure is one of the major risks that could result from wrong estimation of melting point.

More often than not, this affects steel applications that function in environments with high temperatures. There is a need to ensure that these applications can withstand the temperatures to avoid any component failure.

Not to mention that steel needs to be in a liquid state for it to be formable. As such, any delays could result in steel solidifying which could otherwise mess with the overall process.

How Thermal Expansion Affects Steel Melting Point

Thermal expansion refers to the volume change of a substance once it’s subjected to different levels of heat. That said, a metal with a lower melting point has a higher thermal expansion and so this influences the metal usage.

Therefore, it’s important to consider the thermal expansion rate of steel metal when deciding on its intended purpose.

Conclusion

As a rule of thumb, know the type of steel that you’re dealing with and the intended purpose before melting. The different grades of steel have different melting points. To achieve accurate results, understand the type of steel you intend to melt and use the appropriate melting method to melt it.

More Resources:

Titanium Melting Point – Source: HM

Melting Point of Metals – Source: Metal Supermarket

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