steel wool, abrasive material composed of long steel fibers of varying degrees of fineness that are matted together. The coarser grades are used to remove paint and other finishes, the finer grades for polishing or smoothing a finished surface. Steel wool is much used in kitchens for cleaning and polishing metals, especially aluminum utensils.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.