Know the Difference Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

the Difference Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

If you want to get into the scrap metal and the scrap iron trade, you need to know the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. You also should be aware that not only can you make money trading metals, but you can also help the environment by contributing to ferrous metal recycling, which can help keep contaminated parts out of the environment.

If you’re a local business interested in recycling the scrap metal at your building, it’s important to know the difference between the two key types of scrap. They are ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

There are plenty of different types of each. And they’re used in different ways, and by different industries. So think of it this way: one is ideal for building cars, and another is great for building personal watercraft.

The difference could also be summed up in one word: iron. Ferrous metals contain iron, while non-ferrous metals do not.

That’s why ferrous metals have very strong properties and are used in projects requiring durability and strength. That contributes to the parts needed to build cars, for the construction of new buildings, and for constructing railroad tracks.

Non-ferrous metals, which don’t contain iron, are ideal for items that get repeat exposure to water and the elements of nature. That’s why non-ferrous metals are used for gutters, pipes, roofing parts, and street signs.
But let’s take a closer look at how both of these metals are used today.


Who uses ferrous metals?

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals each have their own distinctive properties. And that helps determine how they get used and the applications they’re most suited for.

Ferrous metals are alloys. That means they’re made from a combination of several different metals.

What links them is they contain iron, which means a magnet will stick to a ferrous metal, but not, for example, to an aluminum can, which has no iron.

The use of ferrous metals started around 1,200 BC. That’s when iron production became common and the world started what became known as the Iron Age.

Because of their strength and durability, ferrous metals are a staple in the construction industry. Skyscrapers and lengthy bridges, shipping containers and industrial piping all use carbon steel. Because it is also known as structure steel.

The magnetic quality in ferrous metals makes them particularly useful for electrical applications. One challenge with ferrous metals is they have a high carbon content. That means they can rust more easily when exposed to moisture.


Are there different kinds of ferrous metals?

But some ferrous metals don’t fit into that category. That includes wrought iron and stainless steel, which is protected from rust since it contains chromium.

Other elements of ferrous metals include:

  • Steel, made by adding iron to carbon, which serves to harden the iron.
  • Carbon steel, containing a higher carbon content, which makes it exceptionally hard, and common in machine tools.
  • Alloy steel, including stainless steel, made using chromium and a popular metal used in construction projects.
  • Cast iron, an alloy made from iron, carbon, and silicon, that is resistant to wear and frequently found in water pipes and automobile engines.
  • Wrought Iron, an alloy containing very little carbon and mostly pure iron, used often in creating nails, chains and barbed wire.
  • Scrap iron, and other irons found in industry and in machinery and component parts


What are good examples of non-ferrous metals?

scrap iron

Think of it in terms of this contradiction: non-ferrous metals are known to be very light – but also very strong. That great strength makes them durable. And, combined with their light weight, it’s an appealing combination for a large number of manufacturers. That includes the airline industry.

Nonferrous metals are often harder to come by than ferrous metals. And their biggest advantage is their malleability, or their ability to be pressed out of shape without breaking.

Having no iron content gives them a higher resistance to rust and corrosion. That’s why they often get used in roofing projects or in creating outdoor signs. They’re also non-magnetic, which is why they get used in a lot of electronic and wiring applications.


What are other examples of non-ferrous metals?

They include:

  • Aluminum, which is lightweight and frequently used in manufacturing aircrafts or food cans. It’s also used for building cars, railways and kitchen utensils.
  • Copper is principally used by the electrical industry for wiring and other conductors, as well as for sheet roofing, statutes, bearings and to make brass.
  • Lead is a malleable metal that can withstand corrosion from moisture, so it’s widely used in electrical power cables, batteries, and the construction of buildings.
  • Zinc, which can be machined easily, is widely used in galvanizing, which is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to iron or steel to prevent rust.
  • Tin is often employed to coat steel to prevent corrosion, and tinplate steel is used to make tin cans for food.

Both ferrous and nonferrous metals are used in a wide variety of industries. And if you run a business and are interested in recycling the scrap metals no longer being used, it helps to know the difference between the two.

It also helps to know which industries use which metals, and why.

Both ferrous and nonferrous metals are common in a variety of products. They can be found in our homes, cars, and office buildings.

Any business going through a remodeling or reconstruction project, or replacing aging pipes or electrical systems, chances are you have scrap metals available that can be recycled.


The Difference Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

GLE Scrap Metal buys, processes and sells all grades of ferrous scrap metal, the base metal that sticks to a magnet.

Most important, we provide expert ferrous processing services to a host of clients, including private businesses, demolition companies and the general public. We can help with the ferrous metal recycling, to safely dispose of metals in order to prevent them from contaminating the environment.

Your ferrous scrap metal can provide you with additional revenue. It can also provide all of us with a cleaner and healthier environment.

The same is true with GLE buying, processing, and selling all grades of non-ferrous scrap metal. We offer a processing service provided to the general public, demolitions companies, and private businesses. Doing so helps all of us sustain the environment.

GLE can offer your site 55 gallon drums and containers ranging from 10 to 80 yards in size to suit your site and maximize efficient payloads.

Call 855-SCRAP-88 today to learn more and request a quote.