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Heat Treating Spring Steel

Heat Treating Spring Steel

What is Heat Treating?

Heat treating is a process used to alter the physical and mechanical properties of metals, including spring steel. It involves heating the steel to a specific temperature and then cooling it rapidly or slowly, depending on the desired outcome. The heat treat regimen for 5160 (spring steel) is pretty close to 10 series steel, especially 1084.

Why is Heat Treating Important for Spring Steel?

Spring steel is a type of high-carbon steel that is known for its ability to return to its original shape after being bent or twisted. Heat treating is crucial for spring steel because it enhances its elasticity and toughness, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

The Heat Treating Process

The heat treating process for spring steel typically involves three main steps:

1. Heating

The steel is heated to a specific temperature, which can vary depending on the type of spring steel and the desired properties. In the case of spring steel, the temperature is usually between 1450°F and 1500°F.

2. Quenching

After reaching the desired temperature, the steel is rapidly cooled by quenching it in a oil, such as canola oil or parks AAA. This rapid cooling helps to harden the steel and increase its strength.

3. Tempering

Tempering is the final step in the heat treating process. The quenched steel is reheated to a lower temperature, typically 450 for 1 and a half hours, and then cooled slowly. This step reduces the brittleness of the steel and improves its toughness and ductility.

Special Instructions: Specific Temperatures in Fahrenheit

When heat treating spring steel, it is important to follow specific temperature guidelines. Here are the recommended temperatures for each step:

- Heating: 1475°F 

- Quenching: Rapid cooling in oil. Parks 50 works well for this but Parks AAA will also work. Canola oil is a cheaper option but does not perform as well.

- Tempering: 450°F for 2 cycles of 1.5 hours


Heat treating is a critical process for enhancing the properties of spring steel. By carefully controlling the temperature and cooling rate, spring steel can be made stronger, more elastic, and more durable. Whether it's used in automotive suspensions, industrial machinery, or even everyday tools, heat-treated spring steel plays a vital role in various applications.

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