Identifying Types of Metal

Identifying Types of Metal

Identifying Types of Metal

It is always essential to determine the different types of scrap metal because this makes huge a difference between profit and loss. Generally, non-ferrous metals are more valuable than ferrous metals. You should always use a magnet to help you isolate the ferrous metal from the non-ferrous after which further tests can be carried out. Once that has been done, you can sell the scrap metal and make some good money.

The Importance of Sight Identification

Identification is the most important aspect of the scrap metal business and is essential during the collection stage. As you continue to work with scrap metals, it will be easy to identify them just by seeing them. If you want to quickly identify the most common types of non-ferrous scrap metal that you might come across, you will require the following tips.


It is not too difficult to identify aluminum because most soda pop cans are made of the metal. Aluminum is very light weight and is non-ferrous and it never rusts. Generally, aluminum will not be drawn to a magnet.

Brass or Bronze

Brass, also known as bronze can generally be found in musical instruments and in decorative pieces. You can also find it in pipe valves and in manifolds. To identify brass or bronze, look for metal that is yellowish in color. The metal is a little complicated because any alloy of copper and tin is referred to as bronze. Any alloy of copper and zinc is referred to as brass. While copper, bronze, and brass look similar, there significant differences between the three metals.


You will find copper in most cookware, in electronics and in wiring. Pure copper is usually pink in color and tarnished copper will be brown or red. When corroded, copper changes its color to green. If you have looked at the Statue of Liberty, you will understand the greenish color of copper. Copper wiring is pure white and this is the reason why it is very valuable. The first type of copper is clean copper that is used in piping without solder joints. The second type of copper is copper sheeting and the last type of copper is painted copper that’s usually found in solder joints.

Copper Wire

Copper wire’s grading is generally not spelt out and they are mostly graded different in most scrap yards. The percentage of copper that is found in the wire is what is used for the grading. Some people will strip the copper on their own so that they can get the entire copper price, while others will take the copper as it is. Here is a classification of copper wire.

85% copper wire is very thin and is about the same in diameter as a pencil. 70% copper wire is generally found in machinery. 50% copper wire is available in most appliances or extension cords. 30% copper wire is thin gauge and is mostly available with many attachments. 15% copper wire is what we generally see on Christmas lights.


This is very heavy metal and is generally toxic and also has a density that is about 150% greater than iron. Lead is also very soft to the extent that you can use a penknife to make carvings out of it. Bullets and x-ray machines are manufactured using lead.

Stainless Steel

Finally there is stainless steel that’s available in numerous varieties. There is stainless steel number 200 which is non-magnetic and is iron alloy that has 4% nikel, has 7% manganese, and has 17% chromium. Stainless steel number 304 contains 8% nikel and 19% chromium and will mostly not be drawn to a magnet despite the fact that it is an iron alloy. Stainless steel number 316 is not magnetic as well although it is also an iron alloy. It has 10% nikel, 18% chromium and is more valuable compared to other steel grades. Number 400 stainless steel does not have nikel and is the only steel that you will find to be magnetic. It has 1% manganese and 11% chromium.