Carbon vs Stainless: Which Steel Is the Best Piping Material?

Pipe systemCarbon steel and stainless steel can both be used as industrial pipework for oil, compressed air, and other applications, but which of the two will work best for you? Each has its own share of advantages and disadvantages. You can take a look at the rundown below to decide which material to use for your facility’s piping.

Carbon: A Primer

Carbon steel, as you probably know already, consists mostly of iron and a certain percentage of carbon. High, medium, and low carbon steel exist, but only low carbon steel can be used for piping since it has better ductility. Facilities who use carbon steel do so because of its eco-friendly manufacturing—carbon steel production emit less CO2.

Stainless: A Primer

Stainless steel, on the other hand, contains a mix of iron, carbon, and a chunk of chromium. The chromium gives the “stainless” name to the steel; it reacts to oxygen and produces a layer that further prevents the steel from more oxidation and corrosion. You can purchase stainless steel with different chromium content, but the steel still tends to be more expensive than carbon steel.

Carbon: The Comparison

Europress and other companies agree that a carbon steel fitting touts corrosion resistance, making it great for closed heating and cooling water systems. it also has the eco-friendliness as well as the affordability that makes it a good piping choice. However, moisture as well as oxygen can lead to the corrosion of carbon steel. You also have to store the steel and commission it properly to further prevent corrosion.

Stainless: The Comparison

As for stainless steel, it can be used where carbon steel cannot. Applications include highly corrosive environments. Stainless steel also boasts a longer lifespan than carbon steel, durability, and flexibility. As mentioned earlier, however, stainless steel tends to be priced higher than carbon steel.

Neither carbon nor stainless steel can be pronounced the best piping material, but you can use either of them to the best effect depending on the context of your piping needs. You can use carbon steel for low corrosive environments while leaving the highly corrosive environments to stainless steel.