Samurai Swords and Giant Buildings: Amazing Facts About Steel

Samurai Swords and Giant Buildings: Amazing Facts About Steel

14th November 2019

Steel is one of the most commonly used materials in the modern world. Yet, most people know relatively little about it. What are the most interesting facts about steel that you should know?   
People Have Been Making It for Centuries
It is easy to think that steel is a relatively modern invention. Yet, there is evidence from many different parts of the world that people have been making it and using it for millennia.
The earliest evidence of steel being produced by humans is from Anatolia in Turkey, where pieces from 4,000 years ago have been discovered. In Sri Lanka wind furnaces were used, while the Chinese had worked out by the 1st century AD how to obtain tough steel.
In Africa, people used furnaces in Tanzania to create steel as far back as 2,000 years ago. India was famed for its durable Wootz steel, that they started making in the sixth century BCE and that ended up being exported to destinations such as Egypt, China and Rome.  
It Is Highly Recyclable
Steel is one of the few construction products that retains 100% of its strength when recycled. This is why the steel recycling industry is so important these days. The use of recycled steel saves as much as 74% of the energy that is needed to create new material.
It is the most recycled material on the planet, with an 84% recycling rate noted in 2014. In the US, some 80 million tons are recycled each year. Worldwide, this figure is around 630 million tons. When it comes to cars, the rate is a hugely impressive 95%.
This means that the steel production industry isn’t as environmentally damaging as you might think. Figures from the US suggest that they have lowered the energy use in producing steel by some 60% since the 1960s.
It Is Incredibly Strong 
Carbon steel and stainless steel are both highly rated in this list of the strongest metals around. Indeed, it can go as high as 1,000 times stronger than iron in its pure form.
This is why it is a vital component in some of the planet’s biggest buildings, as well as in many other everyday objects. In the EU, CE marked fabrications show that the product has been manufactured to the appropriate standard. 
Steel is getting stronger too. Parts made of this material are now reported to be up to 30% stronger and more resistant to dents that just a decade ago.
Samurai Swords Contain a Valuable Type of Steel
Samurai swords are traditionally made of a type of steel called Tamahagane. It is made of iron and sand, meaning that it doesn’t contain as much phosphorus and sulphur as the steel that is produced using iron ore.
The name of this steel can be translated as “round as precious steel”. Extremely pure iron sand from Shimane is used, with an expert known as the murage, selecting the materials and then another seven or more highly skilled artisans taking part in the production process.