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How to Differentiate Scrap Metal

How To Differentiate Scrap Metal

Scrap metal is categorised under 2 main categories:

  1. Ferrous metal
  2. Non-ferrous metal

To differentiate them, the easiest method would be to test if they are magnetic or not. Ferrous metal has iron content, and thus in most cases, makes them magnetic. Whilst non-ferrous metal has no iron content, causing them to be non-magnetic. That’s how to differentiate them in the most general aspect. Now let us look deeper into the differences of ferrous metal and non-ferrous metal.

Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metal includes wrought iron, cast iron, mild steel and low carbon steel. They are considered ferrous metal due to their tensile strength. In other words, they are able to withstand from breaking even under high tension, being stretched or pulled. Their tensile strength is measured by the minimum amount of longitudinal stress required to rupture the metal. This also makes them extremely durable, and used for high intensity products. The current tallest skyscrapers and longest bridges are built with mild steel.

These well-known landmarks include:

The Eiffel Tower – 320metres tall, standing tall and strong since 1889

Burj Khalifa – Currently the tallest manmade structure, standing high at 829.8metres

Empire State Building – 103 storey high skyscraper, weighing an astonishing 57 thousand tonnes

The Brooklyn Bridge – The oldest New York bridge still open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic

Ferrous metals are also used in construction, railroads, automobiles, industrial (Containers), and even household tools such as hardware tools and kitchenware (knives).

A high amount of carbon is required when creating ferrous metals and this causes them to be sensitive to rust when exposed to the environment. So, in most cases, if you are able to spot rust on a metal, it is usually safe to assume that it is ferrous metal. However, one special ferrous metal, wrought iron, has such a high pure iron content that it is protected from rust. Wrought iron, also known as stainless steel, is guarded by an element that it has high content in, chromium.

Due to ferrous metal’s magnetic effect, they are effective in building electrical appliances and large motors. Just go to the fridge in your house and check out all the ferrous metal which made it possible for notes and pictures to be stuck to your fridge’s door. They are so effective that ferrous metals attributes to the most recycled materials on Earth.

Ferrous metal, being commonly found, and in good supply, are lower priced than non-ferrous metal. Their prices as scrap metal are also pretty consistent and will not fluctuate much from month to month.

Next on to non-ferrous metal.

Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-ferrous metal includes zinc, lead, tin, nickel, copper, brass, aluminium, and even gold and silver. Non-ferrous metal are much more adaptable and easier shaped than compared to ferrous metal. Being more adaptable, they are lighter and thus being effective when building products that require strength but also required to be light. Examples include aerospace, spacecraft, and military equipment. Non-ferrous metal is also valuable due to their high conductivity, non-magnetic effect and resistance to corrosion. These unique properties allow them to be very effective for certain uses such as, water appliances and outdoor road signs (resistance to corrosion), electronic appliances (non-magnetic attributes) and also electrical wiring (high conductivity).

Non-ferrous metal are valued higher than ferrous metal because firstly they are relatively scarce, especially non-ferrous metal like silver and gold. Economically speaking, a product in high demand, but with a low supply, will raise the value of the product. Likewise, in relation to non-ferrous metal, their prices have been raised. However due to the inconsistency in supply, the prices of non-ferrous metal fluctuate a lot more than compared to ferrous metal.

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