What’s the difference between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals ?


So, you are at the point where you have some scrap metal that you’d like to recycle and make some money in the process. A quick search on the internet provides you with a list of your nearest scrap metal dealers and you check a few of them out.

Not being familiar with the scrap metal process and types of metal there are, you will likely come across the words Ferrous and Non-Ferrous regularly. But what are they, what’s the difference and how much are they worth?

Most people have heard of Steel, Aluminium, Iron and so on. The average person however, who is unfamiliar with the recycling industry has probably not heard about these categories of metal before.

What they also are likely unaware of is that all metals will come under one of these categories depending on their constituents. Recycling value of metal therefore depends on the category it falls into.


A Simple Explanation


From a simple stand point, you can usually say that metal is non-ferrous if it doesn’t rust. This is obviously not true in every single case and depends on the properties, but it is a good yardstick. Non ferrous metals are more pliable and lighter but offer strength where needed such as for use in aircraft manufacturer. Ferrous metals are are usually heavier, vulnerable to staining, rust and corrosion. They are therefore not that durable. Non-ferrous are far more resilient and do not perish over time.


Ferrum, the Latin word for Iron


The name originates for the Latin word ferrum, which means Iron. The chemical symbol for Iron is FE. Ferrous metal therefore contains iron, where as non-ferrous metals do not contain iron or have very little iron content. Types include Stainless Steel, mild Steel and cast Iron. They are mainly used for their durability and strength. Due to the iron content, most have magnetic properties. Non-ferrous metals include Copper, lead, Aluminium as well as precious metals such as silver and Gold. Because they contain very little or no iron, they are not metallic.


Ferrous metal cooking potFerrous metals are usually recycled in much larger amounts and are more readily available in comparison to Non-ferrous metals. Non-ferrous metals are more valuable and therefore command better prices when recycling.

Whilst there is a defined distinction between the two categories, it should be noted that there is a fair bit of cross over when it comes to recycling as you will find there are applications where both are combined.

An example of this is a ferrous metal coated with a non-ferrous metal for protection.



Need more Help ?


So there you have it, a simple guide and explanation of the differences between these 2 categories that metals fall into. If you would like further help or guidance or indeed have some items you would like to recycle, please give Spiremetals a call on 01243 536606 to see how we can help you.

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