Ferrous VS Non-Ferrous Metals: A Comprehensive Guide to Metal Recycling

There is a lot more to recycling metal than simply weighing it. Properly sorting and understanding the basics can significantly boost your returns. In this guide, we’ll break down the differences between ferrous (containing iron) and non-ferrous (not containing iron) metals.

Sorting scrap metal efficiently begins with a simple tool: a magnet. Here’s a quick breakdown:


    • Magnetism: Ferrous metals stick to a magnet due to their iron content.
    • Applications: Commonly used in shaft sleeves, heat exchangers, and pressure vessels.
    • Examples: Steel, Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, Cast Iron, Wrought Iron.
    • Reaction to Heat: Ferrous metals exhibit strong reactions to heat, with the ability to undergo significant changes in structure and properties. 
    • Strength: Generally stronger than non-ferrous metals.
    • Corrosion Resistance: Except for stainless steel, ferrous metals can be prone to corrosion.


    • Magnetism: Non-ferrous metals don’t stick to a magnet.
    • Applications: Found in bushings, bearings, gears, wiring, etc.
    • Examples: Aluminium, Copper, Lead, Tin, Silver, Brass, Gold, Zinc.
    • Reactivity to Heat: Non-ferrous metals generally have lower reactivity to heat compared to ferrous metals. They are more resistant to corrosion and oxidation, making them valuable in various applications.
    • Strength: Not as strong as ferrous metals, but they offer corrosion resistance.
    • Corrosion Resistance: Non-ferrous metals form oxide layers, providing excellent corrosion resistance.


The iron content in ferrous metals makes them prevalent in manufacturing, proving economically advantageous when recycled. Non-ferrous metals, being relatively scarce and resource-intensive, inherently possess an even higher value. 

Sorting your metal beforehand makes the process much faster for you and the facility, while guaranteeing you’re getting the best price for your metal.

Stainless Steel Exception: Some variations of stainless steel products defy standard magnet tests even though they are ferrous. 

Prohibited Items:

To ensure the safety of our employees, customers, and the environment, please note that Inland Steel Products does not accept the following items:

  • Sealed compressed tanks (propane tanks, gas tanks, oxyacetylene bottles, fire extinguishers, etc.)
  • Electronic waste (household batteries, alkaline batteries)
  • Chemicals, including all liquids such as PCBs
  • Ballasts containing PCBs
  • Non-metallic materials (rubber, wood, concrete, etc.)
  • Oil-filled pipe
  • Mercury switches
  • Radioactive materials

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Contact us today and turn your scrap into CASH!

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