What Is Steel?

Steel is a type of metal. It’s made from iron ore, limestone, and up to 25% scrap, or recycled, steel. This means that everything made of steel contains recycled material.

What Do We Use Steel For?

Imagine a world without cars or bicycles, without bridges or machinery, without scientific or surgical instruments, without paperclips or cans for food and drink. This is a world without steel!

Benefits of Using Steel

Every steel object contains some steel that has been recycled.

Steel is 100% recyclable. It’s the easiest packaging material to recycle. Things made of steel can be recycled to make new products again and again.

Steel is very energy efficient. This means that we use less power making something from steel than if we make it out of another metal. By saving this energy, we save precious resources like coal, gas and oil.

How do I know if it’s made of steel?

Steel is rescued from household rubbish by using huge electromagnets, in a process called magnetic extraction. Steel is the only common metal that sticks to a magnet – try it yourself!

To find out if something is made from steel:

  • Hold a magnet against it – if it sticks, it’s steel!
  • Look for one of these symbols on it:

Steel Cans

Steel is a very common type of metal. Every day we use many things that are made from it, including cans. These are the most common steel items in our homes.

Cans are also called ‘tin cans’ or ‘tins’ because they have a very thin layer of tin on the outside. This protects the surface of the can.

Steel cans were invented nearly 200 years ago in France, as a method of preserving food in the army.

Steel cans are used to hold everyday household items

More than three-quarters of all the cans on your supermarket shelf are made of steel. This includes:

  • All types of human food
  • Pet food
  • Half of all drink cans
  • Some aerosols, toiletries, and paint cans.
  • Bottle tops and jam jar lids – these can be recycled too.
  • Steel is often used for packaging because it is very strong and light – and easy to recycle.

Steel is still used for cans today because:

  1. It is strong, so it protects what is inside the can.
  2. It is light, so numbers of cans can be moved around easily.
  3. It is the most environmentally friendly metal for cans.

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