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Aluminum vs. Steel: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on January 12, 2024
Aluminum is a lightweight, corrosion-resistant metal, while steel is a denser, stronger alloy of iron and carbon, often with added elements.

Key Differences

Aluminum is a silvery-white, lightweight metal known for its corrosion resistance and high conductivity. Steel, an alloy primarily of iron and carbon, is recognized for its high strength and durability.
Aluminum is malleable and easy to work with, making it ideal for applications like foil and cans, while steel is used in construction and manufacturing due to its robustness and load-bearing capacity.
Aluminum's low density makes it a preferred choice for aerospace and transportation industries to reduce weight, whereas steel’s higher density and strength are favored in infrastructure and heavy machinery.
In terms of corrosion, aluminum forms a protective oxide layer, making it more resistant to rust than steel, which requires treatments like galvanization to prevent corrosion.
Aluminum is a good conductor of electricity and heat, making it suitable for electrical transmission lines, while steel's magnetic properties make it essential in electrical and electronic applications.

Comparison Chart


Pure metal
Alloy of iron and carbon


Lower, about 2.7 g/cm³
Higher, around 7.85 g/cm³


Less strong compared to steel
Stronger, suitable for heavy-duty uses

Corrosion Resistance

Naturally corrosion-resistant
Requires treatment to resist corrosion


High thermal and electrical conductivity
Lower conductivity, magnetic properties


Aerospace, packaging
Construction, automotive, machinery

Aluminum and Steel Definitions


A lightweight, malleable metal.
Aluminum foil is widely used in cooking.


A magnetic and versatile alloy.
Steel is used in the automotive industry for car bodies.


A metal with a low melting point.
Aluminum alloys are preferred in aerospace for their lightness.


A material with high tensile strength.
Steel cables support suspension bridges.


A non-ferromagnetic metal.
Aluminum is used in electronic casings as it doesn't interfere with signals.


An alloy of iron and carbon.
Steel beams are integral to skyscraper construction.


A corrosion-resistant element.
Aluminum is used for outdoor furniture due to its rust resistance.


A strong, hard metal.
Steel is used in manufacturing tools and machinery.


Element with high conductivity.
Aluminum wires are used in power transmission.


An alloy capable of being tempered.
Tempered steel is used in precision instruments for its durability.


A silvery-white, ductile metallic element, the most abundant in the earth's crust but found only in combination, chiefly in bauxite. Having good conductive and thermal properties, it is used to form many hard, light, corrosion-resistant alloys. Atomic number 13; atomic weight 26.9815; melting point 660.32°C; boiling point 2,519°C; specific gravity 2.70; valence 3. See Periodic Table.


A generally hard, strong, durable, malleable alloy of iron and carbon, usually containing between 0.2 and 1.5 percent carbon, often with other constituents such as manganese, chromium, nickel, molybdenum, copper, tungsten, cobalt, or silicon, depending on the desired alloy properties, and widely used as a structural material.


Standard spelling of aluminium


The metallic element forming the base of alumina. This metal is white, but with a bluish tinge, and is remarkable for its resistance to oxidation, and for its lightness, having a specific gravity of about 2.6. Atomic weight 27.08. Symbol Al. Also called aluminium.


A silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite


What is the primary use of aluminum?

Aluminum is widely used in transportation, packaging, and construction for its light weight and corrosion resistance.

Can aluminum be magnetized?

No, aluminum is non-magnetic.

Is aluminum recyclable?

Yes, aluminum is highly recyclable without loss of quality.

How does aluminum react to heat?

Aluminum conducts heat well and has a lower melting point than steel.

What are the advantages of aluminum in construction?

Aluminum's advantages include lightness, resistance to corrosion, and aesthetic appeal.

Can steel resist corrosion naturally?

No, steel requires treatments like galvanization to resist corrosion.

What is the primary use of steel?

Steel is primarily used in construction, automotive, and manufacturing industries for its strength and durability.

What is anodized aluminum?

Anodized aluminum is treated to form a thicker oxide layer for enhanced corrosion resistance.

Why is aluminum used in aircraft?

Aluminum is used in aircraft for its strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion.

Is aluminum a good conductor of electricity?

Yes, aluminum is a good conductor of both electricity and heat.

Can aluminum be welded?

Yes, aluminum can be welded, but it requires specific techniques due to its properties.

How is steel made?

Steel is made by combining iron with carbon and other elements in a furnace.

Is steel heavier than aluminum?

Yes, steel is denser and heavier than aluminum.

How is aluminum extracted?

Aluminum is extracted from bauxite ore through the Bayer and Hall-Héroult processes.

What are the properties of stainless steel?

Stainless steel is a steel alloy with added chromium, known for its corrosion resistance.

Can steel be used in electrical applications?

Yes, but its magnetic properties can be a limiting factor.

What makes steel suitable for building infrastructure?

Steel's high strength, durability, and load-bearing capacity make it suitable for infrastructure.

Are there different grades of steel?

Yes, there are various grades of steel, each with different properties and uses.

What is the environmental impact of producing aluminum?

Aluminum production is energy-intensive and has significant environmental impacts.

Can steel be reused or recycled?

Yes, steel is highly recyclable and can be reused without loss of quality.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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