4 Common Types of Steel Scrap

Identifying Types of Steel Scrap

Many people have asked us about the different types and prices for steel scrap grades, and we have a few to review. While you may want to learn about as many as possible, there are a couple of places where you should begin to understand the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous and why a magnet is essential. 

Before we get started…

What is Ferrous Metal?

These metals have iron in them and will almost exclusively/always stick to a magnet. 

What is Non-Ferrous Metal?

Metals that are not going to stick to a magnet 99% of the time have a higher value than ferrous items.

Suggested Reading: Difference Between Non-Ferrous & Ferrous Metals

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Primary Steel Scrap Grades:

  • Light Iron: (also known as Shred, tin, or sheet iron) is a primary grade of steel and one of the most common for scrapping. This metal could be items as simple as folding chairs or thin metal sheets. A good rule of thumb regarding light iron is how easy it is to bend it. If you can bend the metal with your hands, it will most likely be considered light iron (unless you have the strongest hands in the world). 
  • Unprepared Heavy Iron: this grade of iron will be items that will be much heavier and thicker, and their purpose was probably to hold more substantial things up. A good example would be something at least 1/8 inch thick and not easily bent with your hands. To upgrade this material and make it into a prepared iron, you would have them cut into 2-4 foot pieces (depending on your yard specs). 
  • Rotors or Auto Cast: these include brake rotors or steel rims that have been cleaned and are generally one of the most sought-after items for higher steel prices. These rims or rotors should not have items like brake pads attached or anything that is not steel. These grades pay more due to the high-temperature process to create them, and they generally have a stronger chemical makeup. 
  • Automobiles/Car Scrap: while many know that cars have solid scrap value, it depends on a few factors. Selling automobiles is tricky, and you should always make sure to have the title for the cars before you sell them. If there is no title, you should reach out to your scrap yard or local DMV to find out the proper sales procedures. The cars have additional value on items that should be taken off: Batteries, Wiring Harnesses, Catalytic Converters, Radiators, and aluminum car rims

While there are many other steel grades, we have found that these tend to be the four most talked about and reported ones from scrappers working day-to-day. We will go over the other steel grades and topics in more blogs to come, including specialty items like scrap rail and busheling.