Distinguishing Between Scrap Metals

If you're planning to get into the scrap metal business, it's essential that you understand the difference between ferrous metals and non-ferrous ones. Keep reading for some information about these types of metals, as well as how you could differentiate between them.

Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metals are commonly used in appliances and electronics such as dryers, freezers, washers, and refrigerators. Their use is not restricted just to that, though. These metals can also be used in farm implements, vehicle motors, pieces of machinery, etc. Here's an example. A lawn mower generally has both metals in its composition. For some mowers, their engines are made completely out of aluminium, which is perhaps the most common non-ferrous metal.

Non-Ferrous Metals

The primary difference between these metals is that a non-ferrous metal is not susceptible to rusting. It is entirely possible, however, for non-ferrous metals to oxidise. During oxidation, a small rust-like layer is formed on the surface of the metals. For example, aluminium, is not prone to rusting, but does oxidise over long periods of time.

Many people claim that oxidation is similar to rusting, and to some extent that is true. However, with oxidation, there's no iron in the metals, which leads to a flaky and white look, as opposed to the dark, rugged look of rust.

By this point, you are probably asking yourself: Okay, so what's the difference between these metals? Here are the two most important questions that can help you determine whether the metal you are looking at is ferrous:

Is there any rust on the surface of the scrap metal?

This is the most commonly used question when determining the properties of scrap metal. Non-ferrous metals will never, ever rust. In that sense, if you are seeking to purchase ferrous metals you should keep in mind that the metal has probably been improperly cared for. As a result, you should be able to see signs of rust on the surface. If not, you can conclude that the metal is non-ferrous and not the right one for you.

Are magnets attracted to the scrap metal?

In ferrous metals, iron is the main component. As a result, ferrous metals also have magnetic properties. Because of that, you should always carry spare magnets with you when looking to buy scrap metal. Simply place the magnets around the metals and observe. Do they stick to the metal? If so, you can rest assured that you're looking at a ferrous scrap metal.