Ferrous and non-ferrous metals

What is the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals?

Ferrous metals contain iron and non-ferrous metals do not. Non-ferrous metals are rarer, more valuable and resistant to corrosion, than ferrous metals. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are both recyclable. Magnetising the iron in ferrous metals can separate ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Updated: 28 May 2020

Find out more about:

ferrous and non-ferrous metals?

Ferrous Metals

What is ferrous metal?

The term ferrous is derived from the Latin word ferrum and means that the metal compound contains iron. Metals with only trace amounts of iron in their composite are not classed as ferrous. The iron in ferrous metals tends to make them magnetic, of high strength and hardness. However, their characteristics can differ greatly depending on the wide variety of alloying elements of which they are made up of. Ferrous metals are vulnerable to rust when exposed to moisture as they have a high carbon content.

Examples of ferrous metals uses:

Because these metals tend to be strong and durable, they have many uses in construction and engineering. You can find ferrous metals in large structures such as skyscrapers and bridges. Furthermore, ferrous metals are used in shipping containers, industrial piping, cars, railroad tracks, and domestic tools.


Railway on metal bridge

Ferrous metals list:

Metal piping

Shipping containers

Non-Ferrous Metals

What is non-ferrous metal?

Non-ferrous metals don’t contain a significant amount of iron and are more desirable as they have conductive, non-magnetic, and low weight properties. The higher demand for non-ferrous metals means they are generally more expensive than ferrous metals.

Non-ferrous metals can also be distinguished by their malleability. This means they can be reshaped and reused, often without losing their valuable properties. This makes them ideal for an extensive range of commercial industries.

Examples of non-ferrous metals use:

Nonferrous metals have had many uses throughout history with copper and bronze being heralded for advancing civilisation through from the stone age to 1700 BCE, when people learnt to mine copper and tin to make bronze weapons. Today non-ferrous metals are used for construction, making tools, electrical cables, vehicle engines, pipelines, containers, and even cutlery.


Drinks cans

Non-ferrous metals list:

Copper pipes

Aluminium wheels

Get in touch with us about ferrous and non-ferrous metal

If you still have any question about ferrous and non-ferrous metals, you can get in touch by emailing us at info at asm-recycling dot co dot uk, or give us a call on 01296 33 77 11. We can provide up to date information on prices and advice for dealing with ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Jump back to: What is the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals?

Contact us by phone Find your nearest ASM depot Contact us by email