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How Do I Know if My Metal Is Scrap?

Whether you’re a builder working on a construction site or have recently embarked on a DIY project at home, scrap metal is a product of all kinds of building works. 

While you might think that having to dispose of this scrap is an irritating task, it can actually be extremely lucrative. 

But what counts as scrap metal?

If you’re wondering ‘is my metal scrap?’, Hill Metal Recycling is here to help.

In short, any metal is potentially scrap if it’s not of use anymore. And in this article, we’ll outline the various ways you can identify if your metal can be recycled as scrap as well as help you recognise the different types of metals you’re handling. 

How to identify if your metal is scrap

It’s important to understand how to identify the different types of scrap metals. As mentioned above, pretty much all leftover metal can be recycled as scrap, but most scrap metal merchants will require it to be appropriately sorted into different categories.

To be able do that, it’s worth knowing the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. 

Ferrous metals are metals that contain iron or an iron alloy. Due to their durability, they’re usually used in the construction industry, particularly to build houses, as well as in piping and industrial containers. 

In contrast, non-ferrous metals are any metals that do not contain any iron. They’re typically far more lightweight than ferrous metals and include the likes of aluminium, copper, lead, tin and much more.

1. Check the colour 

The colour of your metal is often indicative of what type it is. 

The most obvious example of this is if the metal is a red/orange colour. In these instances, it’s likely you’re handling copper or, often more commonly, red brass. Sometimes people will think they’re handling copper, but this type of non-ferrous metal is tricky to mould. Therefore, more often than not, copper coloured metals tend to be red brass. 

Likewise, gold metal can sometimes look like red brass. But before you get too excited, gold metal is extremely rare, so it’s more likely that the scrap is brass. 

It’s also important to consider that metals are sometimes painted or have become rusty, so the colour you’re seeing may not necessarily be the original.   

2. Check if the metal is magnetic 

Another good way to help you identify the metal you’re dealing with is to check if it’s magnetic.

A metal’s response to magnetism will quickly help you check whether it’s a ferrous or non-ferrous metal. Due to the fact that ferrous metals include iron, it follows that they’re extremely magnetic.

Simply place a magnet near your pile of metal and you’ll see the ferrous metals stick to it.   

This is a quick and easy way to separate your ferrous and non-ferrous metals. 

3. Check the metal’s original use 

Often, specific types of metal are used for specific purposes. 

For example, lead can be used on roofs to prevent water from entering a property, copper is often used for wiring, and many household appliances and objects are made from aluminium and iron. With this in mind, where you find the metal being used can often be an indicator of what type it is. 

4. Go to a professional scrap metal merchant 

If you’re really unsure about the type of scrap metal you’re dealing with, calling on the services of a professional scrap metal merchant is a great way to help you identify it. 

Here at Hill Metal Recycling, we provide an expert metal recycling service assisting clients and tradespeople in a whole host of sectors. When you visit our site with your scrap metal, we’ll be able to identify what you’ve brought, correctly sort it and recycle the metal appropriately at our dedicated recycling centre.  

Helping both domestic and commercial customers, we even provide a scrap metal collection service that will head directly to your home or premises to collect the scrap from you.