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Ferrous Metals

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Introduction to Ferrous Metals

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Ferrous metals are pure iron or an alloy which typically consists of iron. The term ‘ferrous’ has been derived from the Latin term ‘ferrum’ meaning iron. The most common ferrous alloys are steel. Ferrous metals contain little amounts of other metals or components added, to render it the requisite properties. These metals are magnetic and offer only slight resistance to corrosion.


All commercial forms of iron and steel bear carbon, which has become an integral part of the metallurgy of iron and steel. The preference for ferrous metals is quite strong, thus also making scrap metals highly merchantable. Most recycling companies pay fairly for scrap metals.

Types of Ferrous Metals and Features

Currently, There are Different Forms of Ferrous Metals Available in the Market. Some of the Major Types and Their Characteristics are Stated below:

  1. Stainless Steel – Resistance to Corrosion

  2. Cast Iron - Hard, brittle, strong, self-lubricating, economical

  3. Mild Steel – Ductile, tough, high tensile strength. Due to low carbon content, it cannot be toughened and tempered. It should only be case hardened.

  4. High Carbon Steel - The hardest of the carbon steels. Tough and malleable but less ductile.

Other available types of ferrous alloys and ferrous material include free cutting steel, construction steel, high temperature steel, low temperature steel, high strain steel, and spring steel

Manufacturing Process of Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metals need to be extracted from basic iron ore. The original source for iron ore is the earth's crust, which bears metals and metal compounds such as iron oxide. However, the ore is commonly mingled with other materials. For the purpose of optimizing the usage of the metal, it has to be derived from the mixture.


The method principally used to derive metals from the ore depends on their reactivity. With respect to iron, a less-reactive metal, it can be derived by reduction with carbon or carbon monoxide. Iron is then extracted from iron ore in a big container known as a blast furnace. Oxygen should be eliminated from the iron oxide to leave the iron behind.

Applications of Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metals are used in a variety of applications. Listed below are its some major uses:

  • Sturdy crushing machinery

  • nuts, bolts girders and plates

  • Car cylinder blocks and gear wheels

  • machine tool parts, machine handle and engine parts

  • vices, brake drums, and plumbing fittings

  • Gears and shafts

  • Cutting equipments for lathes

  • Kitchen draining boards and cutlery

  • Aircraft and pipes

  • Chisels, files and lathe tools

  • garden tools, hammers, drills, dies and taps

  • Metal ropes, springs and wire

Environmental Impacts of Ferrous Metals

Recycling of ferrous metals enables in decreasing the quantities of solid waste accumulated in landfills, which have become costlier. As these metals are magnetic, scrap can be gathered with the help of a magnet and sent to a recycling unit.

Source of Ferrous Minerals

One of the massive sources of scrap steel is the reprocessing old automobile bodies. The automobile body is crushed and compressed, and is then macerated into small pieces using hammer mills. Ferrous metals are isolated from the shredder residue by heavy magnets while other substances are sorted manually or with high-pressure air flows and liquid floating systems.

Applications of Recycled Ferrous Metals

Studies reveal that recycled steel contains the same strength as new steel. Now, a large variety of appliances contain about 75% recycled steel.

Properties of Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metals may include a variety of alloying elements. Some examples are nickel, chromium, vanadium, molybdenum, and manganese. Those provide ferrous steels properties that make them extensively used in engineering.

Following are Ferrous Metal Properties:

  • Durable with Great tensile strength

  • Generally magnetic

  • Very Low resistance to corrosion

  • Recyclable

  • Silverish color

  • Excellent conductors of electricity

These properties make them workable in constructions of long-lasting skyscrapers. Besides, they are utilized in manufacturing tools, containers, pipelines, automobiles, vehicle engines, cutlery etc.

Non-Ferrous Metals and Their Uses

Non ferrous metals include every metal and alloy which do not contain iron. Examples of a few common non-ferrous metals will include:

  • Precious metals like gold, silver and platinum

  • Copper and its alloys such as brass and bronze

  • Nickel, Platinum, Titanium, Palladium

  • Tin, Lead, Zinc

With such a huge array of materials in this grouping, many of the mechanical properties which suggest iron can be unearthed in non-ferrous metals. For example, alloys of aluminum or titanium could be alternated for steel in different cases, if it were not cost-restrictive to do so. Iron’s magnetic abilities could be parallelized with cobalt, nickel, or rare earth elements alloyed with other metals.


However, since non-ferrous alloys are often expensive, they tend to be chosen for their distinctive attributes, instead for the ways they can act like steel.

Properties of Non- Ferrous Metals

  • Light weight

  • Good conductivity

  • Corrosion resistant

  • Non-magnetic

  • Traditionally valued

  • Decorative value

These properties also make the metal to be more prefered. Some metals are prized exactly as they are rare: before extensive aluminum manufacturing was possible, aluminum has been a luxe metal employed in high-end tableware.

Difference Between Ferrous and Non Ferrous Metals

In reference to ferrous (ferrum=iron) metals, the base metal is iron. They take into account a huge part of the overall metals in use today. This has become possible by their properties that are suitable for various industries and use-cases.

On the contrary, Non-ferrous metals do not include iron. This differentiation is made because it brings along a certain characteristic change which non-ferrous metals do not offer.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Can We Dump Ferrous and Non Ferrous Metals?

Answer: A tool called Magneto sensitive Sensor enables efficient and effective detection of ferrous and non-ferrous metal objects. Scrap ferrous metals such as car bodies and old industrial machinery carries many toxic chemicals including petrol, diesel, oil, battery acids, and brake fluids in addition to radiator coolant that can seep into the environment and jeopardize it when dumped in landfills or other unethical places.


These scrap metals also develop safety and fire hazards. The sharp spiked edges of the rusting metal might harm locale and wildlife, while the chemicals could induce bush fires.


Unethically dumped scrap metal is also a costly affair to clear by the local government. These expenses will include deposition and disposal of substance, increased surveillance, administration, imposition, education and awareness programs.

Q2. What do We Mean by Recycling Process?

Answer: The use of scrap ferrous alloys has become an integral part of most steelmaking companies since it largely enables enhancing the company’s economic feasibility and whilst reducing environmental impact. Another reason is that in comparison to ore derivation, using scrap ferrous metals decreases energy consumption, water consumption, CO2 emissions, and air pollution.

Q3. Can Ferrous Metals be Recycled?

Answer: Ferrous based metal scrap products can be recycled by remelting, remolding, and redrawing processes entirely within a steel mill. These processes are way cheaper than manufacturing new metal from the basic ore. Manufacturers and steel producers produce their own coke. The by-products from the coke oven include various organic compounds, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. All these can be sold to consumers.