Does Carbon Steel Rust?

Blacksmithing Question of the Day:

Does carbon steel rust

Does carbon steel rust?

Yes, carbon steel rusts or oxidizes. It lacks certain anti-corrosive elements that would prevent this.

To compare, stainless steel varieties have elemental additions like Chromium (Cr) and Nickel (Ni) that prevent oxidation (rust).

1095 Carbon Steel vs. 303 Stainless Steel

Here is a comparison table of the elements in 1095 carbon steel and 303 stainless steel:

1095 Carbon Steel vs 303 Stainless Steel

At a glance, you can see that there are almost twice as many elements in 303 stainless steel as 1095 carbon steel.

What’s most notable however, is the large difference in Iron (Fe) content and the addition of large amounts of Chromium (Cr) and Nickel (Ni):

  • 1095 steel is 98+ percent Iron.
  • 303 Stainless is just 69 percent Iron.
  • 1095 has no Chromium or Nickel.
  • 303 has Chromium and Nickel in large amounts.

Iron is a very rust-prone material. By reducing a rusty element and adding in elements with anti-corrosive/anti-oxidative properties you achieve your goal.

You can prevent rust on carbon steel by adding a protective layer to the outside of the metal.

Some common examples are:

  • Beeswax for hand-forged goods
  • Oil for machine parts and hand-forged goods
  • A spray-on clear coat like Rustoleum or Krylon

The use for the carbon steel will dictate what protective finish you apply.

  • For food grade uses, a vegetable or plant oil is your best bet. (Yes, you can cook using carbon steel pans.)
  • For traditional ironwork, beexwax is great for indoor items.
  • Outdoor items may need a clear coat, spray paint, or powder coating to resist weather and salt.

Conclusion: Will Carbon Steel Rust?

Yes, it will. But you can protect it with waxes, oils, and spray-on finishes.

*Be sure to clean off any existing rust before applying these finishing techniques.

Further Reading:

1095 for Knife Making

Is Carbon Steel Strong?

1018 Carbon Steel

Learn more about Stainless and Carbon Steel at

Is Carbon Steel Strong?

Is Carbon Steel Strong

In this blog post, we will answer the question: Is carbon steel strong?

We’ll explore its inherent properties and highlight its applications in demanding environments.

When it comes to strength, carbon steel is often considered a reliable choice in various industries.

Carbon Steel’s Composition: A Solid Foundation

Carbon steel, primarily composed of iron and carbon, boasts inherent strength due to its chemical makeup.

The carbon content contributes to its overall hardness and toughness, making it a robust material for numerous applications that require strength and durability.

Here is a list of the combined elements in two types of carbon steel:


  • Fe – 98.7%
  • Mn – 0.8%
  • Sulfur – 0.05%
  • Carbon – 0.45%
  • Phosphorous – 0.04%

1045 is a mid-range, high carbon steel. It’s sheer strength is 59 ksi and its ultimate tensile strength is 90.6 ksi.

To compare, 1018 steel has a sheer strength of 43 ksi and its ultimate tensile strength is 63.8 ksi.

1018 has almost one-third the carbon content of 1045 and it won’t properly harden:


  • Fe – 98.81-99.26%
  • Mn – 0.6-0.9%
  • Sulfur – 0.05%
  • Carbon – 0.14-0.20%
  • Phosphorous – 0.04%

*A wider variety of carbon steels, including 1075 and 1095, can be found at You will also find materials data sheets on each steel.

Structural Integrity: Withstanding Heavy Loads

Carbon steel exhibits remarkable structural integrity, enabling it to withstand heavy loads and resist deformation.

Its strength allows for the construction of sturdy and reliable structures, such as buildings, bridges, and machinery components, ensuring long-lasting performance in demanding environments.

Strength-to-Weight Ratio: Optimizing Efficiency

Carbon steel offers an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, meaning it provides high strength while maintaining a relatively lightweight structure.

This characteristic makes it advantageous for applications where minimizing weight is crucial, such as in automotive manufacturing, aerospace engineering, and structural design.

Resistance to Wear and Fatigue: Endurance Under Pressure

Carbon steel’s strength extends to its resistance to wear and fatigue.

It can withstand repeated stress and strain without significant deterioration, making it suitable for tools, machinery parts, and equipment subjected to demanding and high-stress conditions, ensuring reliability and longevity.

Applications of Strong Carbon Steel: Diverse Industries

1095 Steel

The strength of carbon steel finds application in a wide range of industries, including construction, manufacturing, automotive, oil and gas, and infrastructure development.

It is utilized in structural components, pipelines, machinery parts, cutting tools, and much more, highlighting its versatility and reliability in various sectors.

For blacksmithing, it’s the largest category of steel we work with.


In summary, carbon steel is undeniably a strong material, possessing inherent strength, structural integrity, resistance to wear and fatigue, and a favorable strength-to-weight ratio.

Its application in diverse industries reinforces its reputation as a reliable choice for demanding environments that require robustness and durability.