What is Ferrous Metal?

what is ferrous metal

What is Ferrous Metal?

When recycling scrap metal, it’s important to know the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Ferrous metals can and should be recycled. Steel, a ferrous metal, is among the most recycled materials in the world.

What does “ferrous” mean?

The word “ferrous” comes from the Latin for “containing iron.” In addition to pure iron, alloys containing iron are ferrous.

What is the most common ferrous metal?

Steel is by far the most commonly found and recycled ferrous metal. Steel is made by combining iron oxide with another element such as carbon. This makes the metal harder and stronger. Other elements may be added to make the steel more flexible or more brittle. The addition of various amounts of secondary elements also affect the density of the steel. The majority of steel in the market today is a simple combination of iron and carbon.

What kind of things are made from ferrous metals?

mixed metals

Items made from ferrous metals are all around you. Here are some common examples:

  • Washing machines
  • Clothes dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Hot water heaters
  • Cast iron bathtubs
  • Engine blocks
  • Sheet metal
  • Railroad tracks
  • Structural beams
  • Pipe
  • Scrap machinery
  • Food cans
  • Oil filters

Why recycle ferrous metal?

We consume a lot of steel, and steel takes a great deal of energy to create. According to Waste Cap of Massachusetts, recycling one ton of steel saves precious natural resources including 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. Ferrous metals can be recycled more than once. In the United States, more than 85% of steel is recycled into automobiles, appliances, structural beams and more. Since ferrous metals are so easily recycled, it only makes sense to do so.

Here are four more reasons to recycle ferrous metal:

  1. You’ll keep items out of the landfill. Imagine how much space a refrigerator takes up in a landfill! Recycling turns a useless, broken appliance into something of value. A refrigerator contains about 100 pound of steel.
  2. You’ll be saving energy. The Steel Recycling Institute notes that one year of steel recycling saves enough electrical energy to power 18 million homes for a year.
  3. Your company will gain a reputation as an organization that cares about the environment; a value proposition that is increasingly important to consumers.
  4. You’ll make money. Selling ferrous scrap metal is a great way to earn some extra cash, recycle and reduce waste all at once.

How can I tell if an item is made of ferrous metal?

ferrous metals symbol

The universal symbol for recyclable steel is a triangle made of three arrows. The number “40” is inside the triangle and the letters “FE” are beneath the triangle.

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