The Difference Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

Identifying the difference between metals can be tricky, especially when you are trying to recycle your scrap metal quickly and efficiently. This guide aims to make it easier for you to differentiate between ferrous and non ferrous metals.

What is a ferrous metal?

The main property of ferrous metals is that they usually contain Iron, mixed with small amounts of other metals or elements. Most ferrous metals are magnetic, but they also unfortunately have a high carbon content. This means they are more vulnerable to rust, which makes them a popular recyclable metal. Ferrous metals are usually the most ‘popular’ metals and tend to hold less value than non ferrous metals. The most common types of ferrous metals are engineering steel, light iron, cast iron and wrought iron. Maxilead Metals recycle all grades of ferrous metals. Common objects include end of life vehicles, household appliances and raw steel.

What is a non ferrous metal?

A non ferrous metal is different as they typically do not contain Iron and are a compound of varying other metals and elements instead. In terms of properties, non ferrous metals tend not to be magnetic, although they are often malleable meaning they are easy to transform, thus heightening their recycling appeal. Non ferrous metals are also less vulnerable to rust due to their little or no iron content – giving them a longer usage life. Non ferrous metals typically hold more worth than ferrous metals. The most common non ferrous metals include aluminium, copper, lead and brass (and also precious metals such as gold and silver). The most common household items formed of non ferrous metals include copper/brass boilers and pipes – these often hold quite a high value. Maxilead Metals recycle all grades of non ferrous metals, including copper, brass, aluminium, stainless steel, lead and even cables, batteries and catalytic converters!


Still having trouble deciding which category your scrap metal falls under? Maxilead Metals offers a metal analysis service to help clients differentiate their metals, and what’s more, arrangements can be made for Maxilead Metals to visit you at your location for your convenience making recycling your scrap metal easier than ever!

Or, if you have scrap metal that you are ready to recycle, contact us today to get started.