Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron
Pig iron
Pig iron is the intermediate product of smelting iron ore with a high-carbon fuel such as coke, usually with limestone as a flux. Charcoal and anthracite have also been used as fuel...

, and while it usually refers to gray iron
Gray iron
Gray iron, or grey iron, is a type of cast iron that has a graphitic microstructure. It is named after the gray color of the fracture it forms, which is due to the presence of graphite...

, it also identifies a large group of ferrous
Ferrous , in chemistry, indicates a divalent iron compound , as opposed to ferric, which indicates a trivalent iron compound ....

An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

s which solidify with a eutectic. The color 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
In chemistry, a carbide is a compound composed of carbon and a less electronegative element. Carbides can be generally classified by chemical bonding type as follows: salt-like, covalent compounds, interstitial compounds, and "intermediate" transition metal carbides...

 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 is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 (C) and silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

 (Si) are the main alloying elements, with the amount ranging from 2.1 to 4 wt% and 1 to 3 wt%, respectively.