Ferrous metals can commonly be found in housing construction, skyscrapers, bridges, cars, trucks, railways, and industrial containers.
We use them every day when we cook, they help us get to work, they hold up our homes, and they even save our lives when we’re on the surgical table. Here’s a quick introduction to ferrous metals and how to tell them apart from non-ferrous metals:
What’s Ferrous Metal?
Ferrous metals are those that mostly contain iron. They are known for their tensile strength, hardness, and durability, all of which makes them ideal for both industrial fabrication and architectural uses; think bridges, railroads, skyscrapers, vehicles, etc. They are considered good conductors of electricity and have good magnetic properties, making them suitable for electronics, appliances, and engines. Examples of these metals include carbon steel, stainless steel, alloy steel, wrought iron, and cast iron. These metals, however, give little resistance to corrosion and rusting when exposed to moisture due to the high carbon content. This neither applies to stainless steel since it’s protected by the presence of chromium, nor wrought iron due to its purity.
Characteristics of ferrous metals
Ferrous metals are made up of mostly iron, so they’re liable to rust and they corrode when they’re exposed to the elements (except for wrought iron, which resists oxidisation altogether because it is so pure in iron). They are also magnetic, very strong and weigh more than non-ferrous metals.
Types of ferrous metals
Cast iron consists of 93% iron, 4% carbon and other miscellaneous elements. It melts at 1200 degrees Celsius and is relatively brittle.
Mild steel is a malleable and easily moldable metal. It rusts quickly when exposed to water and is commonly used for products like nuts and bolts.
High carbon steel is a very strong and tough metal. It has a high resistance to corrosion, melts at 1800 degrees Celsius and is used for products like screwdrivers, hammers and other hand tools.
Stainless steel is most commonly used for kitchen sinks, cooking utensils and surgical instruments. It is an alloy of iron and contains about 18% chromium, 8% nickel and 8% magnesium.
Application of Ferrous Metals
The different types of these metals have diverse uses based on their strength.
This metal is known for its high tensile strength and is classified into three categories, such as low, high and medium-carbon steel. Low carbon steel is malleable hence, ideal for making girders and bolts while high-carbon steel is used for making cookware, springs and blades. Medium-carbon steel is stronger than low carbon steel and more malleable than high-carbon steel and is used for making couplings, crankshafts and cold headed parts.
It is used to make automotive parts like engine blocks and cylinder heads, pipes, machinery and other engineering parts.
In the past, it was used for making axes, warships, nails, chains, couplings, garden fences, railways, horseshoes and ornamental ironwork. Today, most of these products are made from mild steel, leaving this metal an essential component for making handrails, nuts and bolts.
Recycling ferrous metals
Ferrous metals are some of the most recycled materials in the world, with steel being the most recycled metal per tonne. The ferrous metal recycling process begins with collection at scrap metal yards, where the metals are crushed and shredded, and the ferrous metals are sorted from the non-ferrous metals (usually through a magnetic separator). This system increases the recycled metal’s purity and quality. The metals are then melted in large furnaces and purified further.
Despite the energy costs of recycling scrap ferrous metals, the process actually requires less energy than manufacturing new metals from raw material. For example, making steel from recycled cans requires 75% less energy than producing steel brand new. Ferrous metal recycling is therefore great for the environment and good for the economy.
How to Turn Ferrous Metals into Cash
The most obvious way of turning ferrous metal into cash is through the sale of scrap metal. While the most common varieties of these metals are steel and iron it is essential to sort them into these two categories when selling scrap metal.
New Scrap: This kind is sourced from production lines in manufacturing warehouses.
Obsolete scrap: This kind consists of damaged cars, lawnmowers and appliances. When taking a car to a scrap yard, you need to empty all its liquid and strip off anything that contains aluminium and other non-ferrous metals. Also, call the local scrap yard ahead to find out what they need from you.
When it comes to appliances, most scrap yards accept all of the kinds. These include dryers, washers and heaters.
Another way of making cash from ferrous metals is by selling structural steel like steel girders, I-beams, angles or plates and structural steel after a demolition.
These Metals are increasingly being recycled due to the great scrap metal prices offered by local scrap yards around the country. Be sure to take all such items to a scrap yard when ready to cash in. The amount of money a collected from scrapping depends on what and how often you scrap.