Difference Between Stainless-Steel and Carbon Steel

stainless steel supplier Albuquerque


For an ordinary person, steel is steel, but if you ask an expert, there are stainless steel, steel, carbon steel, and many more. Including the word steel in the name does not make carbon steel and stainless steel similar. Out of the various types of steel, these two are very common and widely used.

Steel is a combination of different elements, and their composition defines the type of resultant steel. Based on different factors, carbon steel and stainless steel are distinguished. This blog will help you learn the critical differences between both types to source suitable material from your stainless-steel supplier in Albuquerque.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the shiny metal you see everywhere in kitchens, hospitals, and even industrial units. Its smooth surface and polished finish can easily distinguish it.

There are different grades of stainless steel. Type 304 grade is considered the most commonly used stainless steel grade. It includes 18% Chromium, 8-10% nickel, less than 1% carbon, etc.

Carbon is used to provide the required strength to the steel. Nickel offers high-temperature strength. Chromium gives it a corrosion resistance property.

Carbon Steel

Stainless steel is tougher and more rigid than stainless steel due to its grain structure.  Low Carbon steel is less rigid and more ductile than Stainless steel.  Medium and high Carbon steel are more rigid than most Stainless steel.   It is darker in color and has a matte finish. It is used for making machine parts, blades, industrial castings, cutting tools, etc. It is widely used in industrial settings and manufacturing units, so it is not as well-known.

Carbon steel is also available in three very different types, i.e., low carbon, medium carbon, and high carbon. The percentage of carbon distinguishes these three types. Carbon steel includes up to 1% of carbon and iron, and there is no minimum requirement for Chromium, nickel, titanium, etc.

The high carbon content offers it the required hardness. It has specific usage, but the one point that makes it less preferable is that it is prone to rusting.

Differences Between Stainless Steel and Carbon Steel

The significant points of distinction between the two steel types are discussed here:


The first point of distinction is cost. Since stainless steel requires nickel and chromium, it is much more expensive than carbon steel. Therefore, stainless steel can be better if you are not concerned about the cost or whether you need magnetic material.  Many of the most common stainless grades (but not all) are non-magnetic.


There is no doubt that stainless steel is better than Carbon steel. It has a tighter grain structure that typically has a smoother surface, which is why it is most commonly used for the construction of buildings. Furthermore, through polishing, the finish offers a variety of aesthetics that are easy to maintain. In addition, it also reduces the usage of wood, making it an eco-friendly choice.

On the other hand, carbon steel has a darker hue and used to make blades, weapons, and industrial machine parts.


When it comes to strength, medium to high carbon steel is preferred. The higher carbon content makes it harder and more robust. In addition, its strength makes it a suitable choice for various operations. Three grades of carbon steel are used for different purposes.

Low Carbon Steel: Used in the manufacturing of vehicle bodies, fences, railings, gates, domestic appliances, etc.  This material has lower strength but much higher ductility.

Medium Carbon Steel: Used in the manufacturing of cars, gears, shafts, couplings, fridges, bridges, axles, etc.

High Carbon Steel: Used in the manufacturing of blades, dies, punches, cutting tools, springs, etc.

But stainless steel is not as strong as medium to high carbon steel. Stainless steel is used in chemical industries because of its chemical and corrosion resistance properties. The smooth finish and texture make it suitable for crafting medical equipment. In addition, it is also used in manufacturing culinary tools and appliances.

Corrosion Resistance

Corrosion resistance is an excellent distinction between the two types. Stainless steel has up to 18% of Chromium, which contributes to its corrosion resistance property. Stainless steel can be exposed to water and won’t rust, whereas Carbon steel is prone to rust.

Ease of Fabrication

There is no doubt that stainless steel is easy to mold, bend, and shape, as is low carbon steel.  The softer the metal, the better its fabrication. Higher carbon steel is brittle, and sometimes can be challenging to work with.


Ductility measures a metal’s capability to stretch before it breaks. It will break if you pressurize a metal more than it can handle. Stainless steel is more malleable than medium and high carbon steel.  Low carbon steel has the highest ductility.

Stainless Steel Supplier in Albuquerque

It takes years to understand the nuances between the different steel grades and determine which steel type best suits each purpose. At New Mexico Metals LLC, we have mastered the art of telling the difference between the various grades and satisfying your need by offering the correct product.

This knowledge has made us stand apart from our competitors, making us the most in-demand stainless steel supplier in Albuquerque.