How to Identify Different Types of Metal

Here at Maxilead, we consider ourselves to be metal experts, but we think that’s it’s important that everyone knows how to identify some of the most common types of metal.

We’ve put together this handy guide, which looks at the five most common types of metal, and how to identify them.


One of most unique qualities of aluminium is that it’s quite light, in fact, it’s three times lighter than iron. Aluminium is also completely non magnetic, meaning that it won’t stick to even the strongest of magnets. It also doesn’t rust, which is a nice bonus. We buy lots of aluminium ranging from aluminium wheels to window frames.

Did you know… Aluminium is the most abundant mineral on Earth after oxygen and silicon. It’s symbol on the periodic table is Al.



Copper is mostly used in wiring and electronics, and is usually red or brown in colour. However, when it is pure it is a beautiful pink colour. There are numerous forms that scrap copper can take, most commonly in copper boilers / tanks and pipes and also dry bright wire which is when cable is stripped down and the copper remains, this is the most valuable grade of copper.

Did you know.. The Statue of Liberty is made from copper and was originally brown. However, over the years oxidation has turned it into the famous green colour.

Iron / Steel

Iron is very magnetic, and is strong and heavy. However, it does have a tendency to rust when exposed to oxygen and water. The best way to avoid this is by painting it, or by using a spray-on oil or wax coating. Iron and steel is used to make a lot of everyday things including vehicles.

Did you know.. By mass, iron is the most common element on Earth, as it forms a lot of the planet’s outer and inner core.



Lead is even heavier than iron – 150% denser to be exact. It’s a relatively soft metal, and can be carved with a pocket knife and is used in pencils. It is also used on roofs and in construction.

Did you know… The ancient Romans used lead pots to mix syrup. In fact, many people believe that excessive lead poisoning contributed to the demise of the Roman Empire.



Brass is usually a yellow colour, and is about half the price of copper. Musical instruments are often made from brass, but it is also found in pipe valves and fluid manifolds.

Did you know… Brass is actually a metal alloy that’s made from copper and zinc.

How to Identify Types of Metal

If you’d like to find out more about the types of scrap metal that the Olympic gold medals are made from, click here.  

To learn more about these metals or to get a current price please get in touch.

Tue, 23 March 2021

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