Learning About Metal Recycling

Learning About Metal Recycling

What Is Non-Ferrous Scrap Metal And Where Are You Most Likely To Find It?

Barry Mills

When collecting scrap metal for recycling, you'll run across both ferrous and non-ferrous metal. Ferrous metal contains iron, which means that a magnet will stick to it, making it easy to identify. Steel is an example of ferrous metal. Ferrous metals are recycled in large quantities, and the ample supply drives down its price per pound. Non-ferrous metals, like aluminum, copper, and zinc, are comparatively rarer. As a result, they'll fetch higher prices at the scrapyard. Due to its higher value, it's worth searching out non-ferrous metal specifically when you're recycling it.

Below, you'll find a list of common non-ferrous scrap metals and where you'll be most likely to find them.

1. Aluminum

Aluminum is quite common, so it's one of the most frequently recycled non-ferrous scrap metals. It looks like stainless steel, but you can easily tell the difference between steel and aluminum by trying to attach a magnet to it—aluminum isn't magnetic.

Soda cans are a source of aluminum that's easy to find, although they aren't worth very much since they're quite light. If you recycle soda cans, it's best to crush them to make them more compact. You also may end up with large quantities of aluminum after a home remodel. Above-ground pools, aluminum siding, and aluminum decks can provide you with a substantial amount of recyclable aluminum if you're removing them.

2. Brass

Brass is an alloy that's made from a mixture of copper and zinc. Since both copper and zinc are non-ferrous metals, brass is a non-ferrous metal as well. Doorknobs and high-end plumbing fixtures are commonly made of brass, making another non-ferrous scrap metal that you may want to hold on to and recycle after a home renovation project. Some instruments, like trumpets, are made out of brass and can be recycled as well.

As brass ages, it will develop a green patina due to its copper content. If you have an old piece of non-ferrous metal that has a green patina, it could be either copper or brass. You can check which metal is underneath the patina by removing it using something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice.

3. Copper

Copper is one of the most valuable non-ferrous scrap metals, and it's commonly found in electrical wiring due to its ability to conduct electricity. If you're throwing out a large number of wires, it may be worth your time to strip the plastic casing off of them and recycle the copper inside. In addition to wiring, copper is also used to create plumbing pipes. If your home has old copper piping that needs to be replaced, don't forget to recycle the old pipes afterward—they will sell to a scrap dealer for a substantial amount of money due to their weight.

4. Zinc

The most common source of recyclable zinc is galvanized steel. Galvanized steel has a thin layer of zinc on top, protecting the underlying steel from moisture that could cause it to rust. It's commonly used to make metal roofs, siding for outbuildings, and plumbing pipes. You can remove the zinc from the galvanized steel by scraping or filing it off, and then you can use a magnet to separate any flecks of steel from the zinc.

5. Lead

Lead is another non-ferrous scrap metal, and it can be easily identified by its weight and its softness. If you have a heavy piece of non-ferrous metal that can be easily deformed by hitting it with a hammer, it's most likely lead. Lead tends to be difficult to find due to its toxicity. However, very old homes may have lead drain pipes, which can be recycled.

While searching for scrap metal to recycle, keep an eye out for the non-ferrous scrap metals listed above. They're worth more than ferrous metals, so it's worth separating them from iron and steel. Once you have a large quantity of non-ferrous metals to recycle, call various scrapyards in your area to find out who has the best price per pound — prices tend to vary more for non-ferrous scrap, so it's worth it to shop around to see who will pay the most for it.


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About Me
Learning About Metal Recycling

Hello everyone, my name is Suzi Lanson. Welcome to my site. I want to talk about the different tools and techniques used for metal recycling. The backyard in my first home was a graveyard of broken appliances, tools and tin cans of all sizes. I looked at the collection sitting there in horror at first. A friend pointed out that the piles of garbage were actually a recycling goldmine. We transported the materials to a metal recycling facility and split the cash. I was pleasantly surprised to hear nearly all of the items could be broken down and processed to create new products. I will talk about the metal recycling process in more detail on this site.