What is Non-Ferrous Metal?

by Greenway Metal Recycling | Nov 19, 2020

If you ask a normal person to define the word metal, you’ll get responses such as “iron” and “steel”. Less commonly you’ll hear people discuss if the metal is ferrous or not. In fact, most people don’t even know that metal falls into one of these categories. But if you are trying to recycle metal, it’s good to know the difference and understand what ferrous and non-ferrous mean.

What is Non-Ferrous Metal?

Non-ferrous metals are those that don’t contain significant amounts of iron. Metal alloys that fall into this category contain less than 1% of iron by weight. As you would guess, when a metal contains large amounts of iron, it’s considered ferrous.

Most Common Types of Non-Ferrous Metal

There are lots of common non-ferrous metal types. Here are the most common types:

● Zinc
● Aluminum
● Nickel Alloys
● Tin
● Insulated wire
● Lead
● Copper
● Brass
● Precious metals such as silver and gold

Some common examples of ferrous metals are steel and the various types of iron, such as cast and wrought. You mostly find these metals when you scrap an old vehicle.

Properties of Non-Ferrous Metals

As we mentioned, iron content is the most notable difference between the two types of metal. This is the property that makes the ferrous types magnetic. Since non-ferrous metals don’t contain large amounts of iron, they are not magnetic. Since these metals are not magnetic, they are used for wiring and electronics.

Non-ferrous metals are less malleable than the ferrous varieties. However, since non-ferrous metals contain insignificant amounts of iron, they are more resistant to corrosion and rust. This makes them the perfect option for roofing, gutters, pipes, and even outdoor signs.

You will also find that non-ferrous metals are worth more than ferrous metals. Some of the most valuable types are silver, gold, tin, and copper. This is mainly due to the fact that ferrous metals are more plentiful and easier to find.

​Recycling Non-Ferrous Metals

In terms of recycling, ferrous metals are not always eligible. This is because they are prone to corrosion, and when this occurs, they cannot be recycled. Yet still, this isn’t true for every type, as it can depend on what other elements are mixed in with the metal. Non-ferrous metals are extremely durable and aren’t known to break down over time. This makes them eligible to be recycled time and time again, with no limits to how many times they can be reused.

The recycling process is essentially the same for both types. Strong magnets are used to separate them before they are further processed by being cut or shredded into small sections. The metals can then be melted down and used to form new shapes or baled into blocks.

Industrial Scrap Metal Recycling

As you can see, ferrous and non-ferrous metals have their differences. Just keep in mind that both types can be recycled if the metal is not rusted or corroded. At Greenway Metal Recycling, 100% of the scrap metal we buy is recycled into new products. If looking to recycle scrap metal, Chicago contractors, manufacturers, and developers can contact us to get a quote.

When it comes to scrap metal, Chicago businesses can count on Greenway Metal Recycling for the best value!

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