scrap metal

How to Identify Your Scrap Metal


If you’re new to scrap metal recycling, you might not know where to start when it comes to sorting and identifying the different kinds of metals you’ve collected. When in doubt, you can always consult a professional. However, by following these simple tricks, you can learn how to sort much of your scrap metal on your own.


1. Conduct the magnet test

The first step to narrowing down what type of scrap metal you have is to determine if it’s ferrous or not. A metal is considered ferrous if it contains iron. Since iron is magnetic, you can easily find out if your scrap metal contains this alloy by holding it near a magnet. If the metal is attracted to the magnet, it’s ferrous.


2. Look for signs of oxidation

Oxidation is a process that occurs when metal is exposed to oxygen. It often has a visible effect, which differs from one type of metal to another. For example, when iron oxidizes, it develops a reddish-brown rust. Bronze and copper, on the other hand, take on a greenish hue when exposed to oxygen. Other metals, like stainless steel, don’t oxidize.


By familiarizing yourself with the signs of oxidation for various metals, you can more easily identify the type of metal you have. Keep in mind that if the metal is relatively new or has been kept in good condition, it may not show any signs of oxidation.


3. Determine what was it used for

If you know what your scrap metal was originally used for, you’re well on your way to identifying it. Different kinds of metal are used for specific purposes based on properties such as how hard they are or how easily they oxidize. For example, brass and bronze are usually found in instruments and decorative fixtures. Copper is a good conductor, so it’s often used in electrical wiring. If your scrap metal was used on the exterior of a building, it’s likely not iron as this metal rusts easily.


Recycle scrap metal in Edmonton

The most reliable way to identify your scrap metal is to bring it down to a scrap yard. At General Recycling Industries Ltd., we buy both ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal. Recycling this metal at our facilities is just one of the ways we’re doing our part to build a more sustainable future. To learn more about selling scrap metal, or to rent a bin for your commercial or industrial property, give us a call today.