If you want to get into the scrap metal and scrap iron trade, knowing the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals is highly important. More importantly, you need to be aware that not only can you profit from trading metals, you can also help the environment by contributing to ferrous and non-ferrous metal recycling, which can help separate harmful and contaminated parts out of the environment.

If you’re interested in recycling scrap metal, the first step is to identify the difference between the two key types of scrap: ferrous and non-ferrous metals. There are different types of each and they’re used in different ways by almost all industries in the world.

Let’s take a closer look at how both of these metals are used today.

What are ferrous metals used for?

Ferrous metals are considered as alloys — this means that they are made from a combination of several different metals. Known for its strength and durability, ferrous metals can be easily spotted in the construction industry. Skyscrapers , shipping containers, and even industrial piping all use carbon steel or commonly known as as structural steel.

Ferrous metals have a particular magnetic component, which makes them particularly useful for electrical applications. However, ferrous metals have a high carbon content, which means they can rust more easily when exposed to moisture.

Ferrous Metal Recycling

Other forms of ferrous metals include:

  • Steel, which serves to harden the iron.
  • Carbon steel, which is common in machine tools.
  • Alloy steel, a popular metal used in construction projects.
  • Cast iron, frequently found in water pipes and automobile engines.
  • Wrought Iron, used often in creating nails, chains and barbed wire.
  • Steel, 100% recyclable and, depending on its life-cycle, can be used again and again.

What are non-ferrous metals used for?

Non-ferrous metals are known to be very light; however, its strength makes it extremely durable. That strength and durability combined with their light weight, is appealing especially for the airline industry.

Moreover, its biggest advantage is its malleability, or ability to be pressed out of shape without breaking.

With the absence of iron content, it gives them a higher resistance to rust and corrosion, which is why they often get used in roofing projects or in creating outdoor signs. More importantly, it is also non-magnetic, which is why they get used in a lot of electronic and wiring applications.

Non-ferrous Metal Recycling

Other forms of non-ferrous metals include:

  • Aluminum, used for building cars, railways and kitchen utensils.
  • Copper, principally used by the electrical industry for wiring and other conductors
  • Lead, widely used in electrical power cables, batteries, and the construction of buildings.
  • Zinc can be machined easily and is widely used in galvanizing
  • Tin is commonly used to make tin cans for food.

According to data from USGS and the Commerce Department, in 2017 the United States was able to achieve more than 8.5 million metric tons of non-ferrous scrap. ISRI estimates that this non-ferrous scrap was worth more than $30 billion, enough to sustain the environment protection regardless of the presence of industries.

Both ferrous and non-ferrous metals are common in most products manufactured in the world. They can easily be found everywhere, including 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 metal available that can be recycled.

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