The following are the effects of impurities like silicon, sulphur, manganese and phosphorus on steel.
1. Silicon: The amount of silicon in the finished steel usually ranges from 0.05 to 0.30%. Silicon is added in low carbon steels to prevent them from becoming porous. It removes the gases and oxides, prevent blow holes and thereby makes the steel tougher and harder.
2. Sulphur: It occurs in steel either as iron sulphide or manganese sulphide. Iron sulphide because of its low melting point produces red shortness, whereas manganese sulphide does not effect so much. Therefore, manganese sulphide is less objectionable in steel than iron sulphide.
3. Manganese: It serves as a valuable deoxidising and purifying agent in steel. Manganese also combines with sulphur and thereby decreases the harmful effect of this element remaining in the steel. When used in ordinary low carbon steels, manganese makes the metal ductile and of good bending qualities. In high speed steels, it is used to toughen the metal and to increase its critical temperature.
4. Phosphorus: It makes the steel brittle. It also produces cold shortness in steel. In low carbon steels, it raises the yield point and improves the resistance to atmospheric corrosion. The sum of carbon and phosphorus usually does not exceed 0.25%.