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Aluminum Vs Cast Iron Pipe Wrench – Which is better?

Cast iron aluminum pipe wrenches are essential elements for any professional or DIY plumber. The secret to good plumbing is choosing the perfect pipe wrench, which is determined by mostly what it is made out of.

A pipe wrench is a tool used to grip, loosen, and tighten, as the name suggests, pipes and fittings. Pipe wrenches take the design of Stillson, who patented the first pipe wrench back in 1896. They have adjustable upper jaws which grip a pipe’s surface.

Aluminum Vs Cast Iron Pipe Wrench

Due to innovation, the traditional steel pipe wrenches have now been improved to pipe wrenches made out of aluminum and cast iron. Each of these wrenches has its advantages over the other one. Therefore, in this article, we will critique whether to go for the aluminum or cast iron pipe wrench.

Overview Of Aluminum Pipe Wrench

It may be difficult to distinguish one pipe wrench from another. But when you take a closer look, you can identify the materials used to make them and their various sizes. There are three types of pipe wrenches; the straight pipe wrench, the end pipe wrench, and the offset pipe wrench.

The cast iron aluminum pipe wrench is what we will focus on. An aluminum pipe wrench is a current improvement that has been established in the plumbing world. The traditional pipe wrenches were and still are very heavy and bulky; for example, the cast iron pipe wrench.

The primary distinguishing feature of an aluminum pipe wrench is its lightweight. It is forty percent lighter than a cast iron pipe wrench which is a remarkable weight difference. And it still does the same work as any other pipe wrench.

This makes it very convenient to carry around and comfortable to use especially for people like plumbers who have to use it now and then.

It has two serrated jaws where the upper jaw is adjustable to fit various sizes of a pipe. Its teeth will only hold when the wrench is turned in one direction. It also has a long pipe wrench handle.

The jaws enable the wrench to grab the pipe’s surface and provide the required grip. The pipe wrench handle provides stability for turning particularly tight fittings. The pipe wrench handles are cushioned or covered with rubber for comfort. The longer the pipe wrench handle, the greater the leverage.

The jaws and teeth are made out of steel to provide a reliable grip and maximum durability, while the rest of the body is made out of aluminum. The aluminum body makes them light and easy to move around with.

They are available in sizes ranging from 9 to 60 inches in length of the pipe wrench handle. They are very easy to use because they have self-cleaning threads and easily and instantly changeable hook and heel jaws.

In terms of price, the aluminum pipe wrench is quite expensive compared to the cast iron pipe wrench. On the other hand, it weighs only 3 lbs which makes it very much lighter than cast iron pipe wrench.

One is left to decide on whether to consider weight over price i.e. aluminum or cast iron pipe wrench or vice versa.

What Is An Aluminum Pipe Wrench Used For?

It is used for overhead work, or when working while on a ladder. The aluminum pipe wrench is suitable due to its lightweight therefore, it is more convenient to work with.

They are easily portable and can be carried around while continuing with your other activities. Their handles are not as harsh as other pipe wrench handles even when applying a lot of force.

It is home friendly and is safer to use than the cast iron pipe wrench. This is because of how its handle is made, and its lightweight.

Overview Of Cast Iron Pipe Wrench

Cast Iron Pipe Wrench

The cast iron wrench is one of the traditional types of pipe wrenches. It is made out of iron all around except for its jaws and teeth, which are galvanized with steel to provide enough grip.

Cast iron wrenches are very heavy, weighing twice as much as aluminum pipe wrenches. They offer the needed torque and durability for heavy-duty plumbing jobs where aluminum pipe wrenches can not be used due to wear and tear.

They are much stronger and stiffer than aluminum pipe wrenches. The jaws adjust from 1.5 to 5 inches. They can withstand deformation, and this makes them very durable and long-lasting. The head has a flat surface, and the pipe wrench handles are covered in plastic sheaths for comfort.

The cast iron pipe wrenches are preferred in smaller sizes due to their heavy weight. For larger sizes, aluminum wrenches are the most suitable.

What Is A Cast Iron Pipe Wrench Used For?

The drop-forged jaws prevent deformation or fracture when doing strenuous plumbing work.

The galvanized steel teeth are hardened enough to provide an excellent biting into the pipe’s surface which loosens even the most stubborn of fittings.

If you consider durability as the main determinant when choosing a pipe wrench, the cast iron wrench is the way to go.

Aluminum Vs Cast Iron Pipe Wrench: Comparison Chart

Aluminum Pipe wrenchCast Iron Pipe wrench
More expensivePriceCheaper compared to the aluminum pipe wrench
Very lightWeightVery heavy and bulky
Used for overhead worksEase of useUsed for intensive and strenuous plumbing works
Fairly durableDurabilityVery durable and does not conform to deformation
Very easy to carryPortabilityCannot be carried around for long periods
Susceptible to wear and tearDurationVery long lasting
Can be used for both intensive and regular residential plumbing worksFlexibilityused for heavy-duty plumbing works.

What Are The Differences Between Aluminum And Cast Iron Pipe Wrench?

  • The main difference between an aluminum pipe wrench and a cast iron wrench is the aluminum pipe wrench is lighter than cast iron pipe wrench. It weighs twice as light as a cast iron wrench.
  • The aluminum pipe wrench is more pricey than the cast iron pipe wrench that is because aluminum as metal costs way more than iron.
  • The aluminum pipe wrench is easy to use for domestic plumbing work due to its lightweight, while the cast iron wrenches are very heavy to work with, so they are more suitable for heavy-duty works.
  • The aluminum pipe wrench is easily portable and can be carried around with ease compared to the cast iron pipe wrench which can not be carried for a long period.
  • The aluminum pipe wrench is more suitable for plumbers who engage in overhead works than the cast iron wrench which is strenuous to carry overhead.
  • The aluminum pipe wrench is susceptible to wear and tear and therefore is not that durable. In turn, the cast iron pipe wrench is more durable and can withstand any sort of deformation and breakage.
  • The aluminum pipe wrench comes in handy when dealing with small spaces because one can easily use it to loosen fittings, unlike the cast iron wrench which will be more unconventional.
  • The aluminum pipe wrench is not as strong as the cast iron pipe wrench and therefore very unsuitable for heavy-duty plumbing.

All in all, cast iron or aluminum wrenches serve the same purpose, which is, tightening and loosening pipes and pipe fittings. The differences between them can be both advantageous or disadvantageous based on an individual’s needs.


To wrap it up, the choice of aluminum vs cast iron pipe wrench is determined by what you intend to do with the pipe wrench and how much your purchasing power is.

Cast iron pipe wrenches are more durable and strong and therefore robust enough for heavy strenuous work. The aluminum wrenches should satisfy your desire for a lightweight option.

However, the aluminum pipe wrench is more expensive than the cast iron pipe wrench. For larger wrenches, aluminum is the material of choice. As a result, you can save the most weight possible which makes work easier. However, if you’re looking to save money, the cast iron wrench is the way to go.