Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals: What is the difference?

In today's society, there are a wide variety of metals available on the market used for different purposes. The most common types are ferrous and non-ferrous metals with each having their own distinctive properties and applications. But what exactly is the difference between the two? 


Ferrous metals 

The word ‘ferrous’ originates from the Latin word ‘ferrum’, meaning a compound that contains iron. Examples of ferrous metals include steel, wrought iron, and cast iron. 

These metals are known for their ferromagnetic properties, thermal conductivity, tensile strength and durability. This makes them ideal for electrical appliances, automobiles, tools, machines, architectural and construction components.  

However, ferrous metals have a higher carbon content with the exception of wrought iron (pure iron content) and stainless steel (chromium content). As a result, they are more subject to rust and corrosion than non-ferrous metals. If exposed to the elements, they must be anodized to increase resistance and control oxidation. 

Ferrous metals also tend to cost less. This is because they are much more common in the earth's crust than non-ferrous metals, meaning it is easier to find and extract them. 

Non-Ferrous metals 

When talking about non-ferrous metals, the big difference is that these don’t contain iron. Some common non-ferrous metals include copper, aluminum, brass and bronze. Even precious metals like silver, gold and platinum fall under this category. 

With little to no iron content, non-ferrous metals naturally have a higher resistance to corrosion and rust, making them perfect materials for pipelines, wiring, guttering and roofing. Furthermore, non-ferrous metals can be continuously recycled because they don’t degrade or lose any valuable properties. 

Another difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals is that the latter is less dense, meaning they weigh less and are far more malleable. Aluminum for example can be reshaped into food cans, kitchen utensils and even be used in the manufacturing of aircrafts.  

Non-ferrous metals are generally more expensive due to how rare they are compared to ferrous metals, but prices can fluctuate rapidly depending on the needs of the current market. 


Get in touch for scrap metal recycling! 

As you can see, ferrous and non-ferrous metals both have their own unique benefits and uses; whether you are looking for a material that is strong and magnetic, or lightweight and resistant to corrosion. 

Here at Clear My Scrap, we operate a unique, no-nonsense scrap yard service for non-ferrous scrap metal in Altrincham. Our fully flexible, economical collection service can be tailored to the needs of your business, and is an ideal waste disposal solution for tradesmen like plumbers, gas engineers and electricians, as well as refurbishment companies. 

Call us now on 01613007980 or complete the form on our website and we’ll be happy to help with your enquiry.