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How to Tell Ferrous Metals from Non-Ferrous Metals

Metal can be found throughout buildings, vehicles, and appliances. Whether it’s needed for strength and structural integrity or lightweight protection, metal is relied upon for business and personal use. But there are many different types of metals, including ferrous and non-ferrous varieties, each of which is designed for specific uses. Sgt. Scrap provides metal recycling services for people in New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York. Here, we discuss ferrous and non-ferrous metals in greater detail and why this distinction matters.

Differences Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

In short, ferrous metals contain iron and non-ferrous metals don’t. This change in their makeup makes a big difference when it comes to the applications they can be used for and their value at a scrap yard. Iron makes ferrous metals magnetic. These magnetic properties allow ferrous metals to be used in many appliances and engines. This is why magnets may stick to your refrigerator or microwave.

Ferrous metals are also known for their strength, yet they tend to rust over time due to their high carbon content (with a few notable exceptions). Often used in architectural and fabrication applications, ferrous metals can be found in the following:

  • Railroads
  • Skyscrapers
  • Shipping containers
  • Bridges
  • Vehicles

Conversely, non-ferrous metals don’t contain iron. They’ve been in use for thousands of years, dating back to around 5,000 B.C. These metals are less about strength and more about flexibility. They’re generally lighter in weight and more malleable, allowing them to be used in different ways from their ferrous counterparts.

Because of their composition, non-ferrous metals are often used in industrial applications. They can be found in gutters, piping, and roofing materials because their lack of iron content means they’re corrosion-resistant. Also, they aren’t magnetic, which allows use in electrical applications, such as wiring. Non-ferrous metals are also found in aircraft, where light weight is a must, and jewelry, where their malleability allows easy bending.

Examples of Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

While ferrous and non-ferrous metals have their own designated uses, both groups contain common metal types that we see in our everyday lives. Here are some examples of ferrous metals:

  • Steel: This strong and stable alloy is made with iron and carbon, and it’s found in construction and industrial fabrication.
  • Carbon steel: This is an extremely hard metal that’s composed of iron with high carbon content.
  • Stainless steel: An alloy steel, this metal is designed with chromium to help prevent rust.
  • Cast iron: A combination of iron, carbon, and silicon, this metal is heavy, hard, and resistant to wear.
  • Wrought iron: This metal features high pure-iron content to prevent rust.

Examples of common non-ferrous metals include:

  • Aluminum: A lightweight metal, aluminum has lower strength that is easy to shape.
  • Copper: Highly malleable, this metal offers high electrical conductivity, making it great for wiring.
  • Lead: Heavy yet soft, this malleable metal has a low melting point.
  • Tin: Featuring a low tensile strength, tin is commonly used to coat steel or copper and help prevent corrosion.
  • Zinc: A medium-strength metal designed with a low melting point, zinc is widely used in the galvanizing process to keep iron or steel from rusting.

At Sgt. Scrap, there are a variety of metals we buy, including both non-ferrous and ferrous. Copper, brass, and alloys, including nickel, titanium, and carbide inserts, are the highest in value, but ferrous metals like steel and stainless steel are also accepted.

Make Money Off of Your Unused Metals

No matter which type you have, Sgt. Scrap is here to take your scrap metal off your hands. Whether you’re looking to get rid of old pipes, light fixtures, batteries, a washing machine, or an entire vehicle, you’ll find competitive prices and experts who can answer your questions. We also know that disposing of scrap properly is what’s best for the environment, so let us take your old items rather than let them sit in a landfill.

For your convenience people in New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York can drop off items at either of our locations. If you have more than 500 pounds of non-ferrous metals, take advantage of our mobile pickup option. We can even deliver a roll-off dumpster to your site if you need more than 5,000 pounds of scrap metal taken away. Contact us today to learn more.

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