Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The colour of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due to its carbide impurities which allow cracks to pass straight through. Grey cast iron is named after its grey fractured surface, which occurs because the graphitic flakes deflect a passing crack and initiate countless new cracks as the material breaks.
Carbon (C) and silicon (Si) are the main alloying elements, with the amount ranging from 2.1 to 4 wt% and 1 to 3 wt%, respectively. Iron alloys with less carbon content are known as steel.
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