Iron is by mass the most common element on Earth, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust. Pure iron is relatively soft, but is unobtainable by smelting. The material is significantly hardened and strengthened by impurities, in particular carbon, from the smelting process. A certain proportion of carbon (between 0.002% and 2.1%) produces steel, which may be up to 1000 times harder than pure iron.
Hematite also spelled as haematite, is the mineral form of iron (III) oxide (Fe2O3). It forms a complete solid solution at temperatures above 950 °C (1,740 °F). Hematite is a mineral, colored black to steel or silver-gray, brown to reddish brown, or red. Huge deposits of hematite are found in banded iron formations. Gray hematite is typically found in places that can have still standing water or mineral hot springs. Hematite can also occur without water, however, usually as the result of volcanic activity.