How to Identify Magnetic Metals (And Why It's Useful)

One of the most important tools for any scrap metal recycler in Calgary is a magnet. Whether you have a magnetic or a nonmagnetic metal can make a difference in the Calgary scrap metal prices you can get for your haul. At Federal Metals Inc., we're happy to help fellow scrappers learn some of the tricks of the trade.


Generally, a magnet will help you sort between ferrous and non-ferrous metals, but there are some important nuances which will be discussed below. First, let's take a look at how to identify a magnetic metal.

All you have to do to determine whether a metal is magnetic or not is find a magnet and hold it against your metal. If it sticks, then you've got a magnetic metal. If not, then your metal is not magnetic. That's all there is to it!

Why Differentiate Between Magnetic and Nonmagnetic Metals?

The main reason why scrappers differentiate between magnetic and nonmagnetic metals is that magnetic metals are usually ferrous, meaning that they contain iron. Iron is often found alloyed with carbon in the form of steel, but you might come across metal products made of cast iron and wrought iron as well. Non-ferrous metals do not contain iron and will sell for a higher price to scrap metal recycling facilities in Calgary that ferrous metals. Some of the most common non-ferrous metals sold for scrap are aluminum, copper, brass, zinc, lead, and tin.

Iron is not, however, the only metal that attracts a magnet. If your magnet sticks to the metal, then you could have nickel or cobalt on your hands as well. Other rare earth metals also attract a magnet, but you likely won't find yourself dealing with them. Learning to differentiate between iron, nickel, and cobalt is important, as the latter two are far more expensive. In fact, nickel sells for more per pound than bare bright copper. Cobalt is even more expensive than nickel or copper, and its price is forecasted to continue soaring. Nickel is a shiny, silvery-white metal while cobalt has a lustrous, silver-blue sheen to it.

Note that some metal products which do contain iron will not attract a magnet - most notably certain grades of stainless steel. Many scrap yards will classify stainless steel as non-ferrous due to the fact that it is usually nonmagnetic. Stainless steel is worth considerably more than other iron alloys because it has a high chromium content.

Recycling Magnetic and Nonmagnetic Scrap Metal in Calgary

Now that you know how to identify magnetic metals - as well as how to identify the different types of magnetic metals - you'll have a better sense of the worth of the scrap metal you come across. This can help you decide what scrapping projects to focus your time and effort on. Once you've got a good haul, you can bring your scrap to the scrap metal recyclers and suppliers at Calgary's Federal Metals Inc. If you have any more questions about scrap metal or copper recycling in Calgary, don't hesitate to contact Federal Metals Inc., today.

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