Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content in contrast to cast iron. It is a semi-fused mass of iron with fibrous slag inclusions, which gives it a "grain" resembling wood that is visible when it is etched or bent to the point of failure. Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile, corrosion-resistant and easily welded. Before the development of effective methods of steelmaking and the availability of large quantities of steel, wrought iron was the most common form of malleable iron. It was given the name wrought because it was hammered, rolled or otherwise worked while hot enough to expel molten slag. The modern functional equivalent of wrought iron is mild or low carbon steel. Neither wrought iron nor mild steel contain enough carbon to be hardenable by heating and quenching.
Historically, a modest amount of wrought iron was refined into steel, which was used mainly to produce swords, cutlery, chisels, axes and other edged tools as well as springs and files. The demand for wrought iron reached its peak in the 1860s, being in high demand for ironclad warships and railway use.