This article describes the effects of furnace atmospheric elements on steels. These elements are air, water vapor, molecular nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. The article provides useful information on six groups of commercially important prepared atmospheres classified by the American Gas Association on the basis of method of preparation or on the original constituents employed. These groups are designated and defined as follows: Class 100, exothermic base; Class 200, prepared nitrogen base; Class 300, endothermic base; Class 400, charcoal base; Class 500, exothermic-endothermic base; and Class 600, ammonia base. These are subclassified and numerically designated to indicate variations in the method by which they are prepared. The article also contains a table that lists significant furnace atmospheres and their typical applications.