548 State Road, Westport, MA 02790

Learn to Identify and Scrap Stainless Steel

Learn to Identify and Scrap Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is everywhere. It is used to make sinks, faucets and has recently become a popular surface material for appliances in homes all across America. Stainless steel is a steel alloy that contains chromium. Other metals, such as nickel, can also be alloyed with stainless steel, adding to the complexity of identifying stainless steel from other types of scrap metal.

Chromium, which is commonly called chrome in the metal business, is quite valuable on its own. However, it is used primarily in the creation of stainless steel because it helps the finished product resist corrosion over time. It is also used as a plating material on metal parts, such as automobiles and motorcycles, due to its shiny and eye-catching properties.

How much is stainless steel worth? Well, it is valued at a lot more than what you would receive for more common ferrous metals, so it is worth your time and effort to determine what you’ve got before taking it in to be sold. Part of scrap metal recycling is learning how to identify the different metals you have in order to maximize your returns.

Magnetic and Non-Magnetic
You will find as you gain more experience in stainless steel recycling in Falmouth, that this unique metal can be either magnetic or non-magnetic. This makes it difficult for folks that are new to scrapping to identify it compared to aluminum or other scrap metals. The alloy make-up of the stainless steel will determine if it is magnetic or non-magnetic. Chromium negates the magnetic properties of nickel and iron, making the stainless steel non-magnetic. Three things to know about stainless steel:

  • Stainless steel that contains nickel will sometimes be magnetic.
  • An alloy made of nickel and chromium will, in most cases, not be magnetic.
  • An alloy made of nickel and copper will also not be magnetic in most cases.

The Aluminum Confusion
Even for seasoned scrappers, identifying stainless steel from aluminum can be confusing – and embarassing when you get it wrong. There are a couple of tests that can be done to make sure. Don’t just do one. If you aren’t 100% positive, make sure you do all of them if recycling stainless steel in Falmouth is your primary objective.

Test #1 – First hit the metal with a magnet. If it sticks to the item, it is not going to be aluminum, but will most likely be steel or a special type of stainless steel known as 400 grade. This should be your first step in identifying stainless steel from other types of scrap metal.

Test #2 – The spark test is something that every good scrapper should know how to do. If you grind a bit of the item in question on a grinding wheel and it throws a “glow” of sparks, then it is steel. If it is non-magnetic and gives off sparks, the item is most likely made of a 300-series grade of stainless steel.

Test #3 – Check the item for rust. Aluminum won’t rust, however stainless steel can rust over time in extreme conditions. If there is rust, you at least know you don’t have aluminum when you are recycling stainless steel in Falmouth.

Test #4 – The density of the item is also a dead giveaway. For example, the weight of aluminum is typically three times or more lighter than stainless steel. So if the item feels about the same weight as regular steel, chances are good that it is stainless steel. If it is really lightweight, you’ve probably got aluminum on your hands.

Most Valuable Types of Stainless Steel
So now that you’ve identified your stainless steel from other scrap metals, how much is stainless steel worth? The best way to determine the value is to contact your local scrap metal recycling center, such as Mid City Scrap in Westport, MA. Mid City can give you the current market rates so you can determine whether or not it is a good time to sell. Some scrappers will sit on a pile of scrap metal until the value goes up or will quickly get their scrap metal in when the prices are at a premium.

Stainless steel recycling in Falmouth can be a very lucrative side job or full time business, but you’ve got to know how much each type of stainless steel is worth before you invest too much time in gathering it. Non-magnetic stainless steel is usually worth a little bit more than aluminum, but much will be dependent on the current market of supply and demand.

The various grades of stainless steel range between the 100 series and the 600 series. The 400 series is the cheapest. It doesn’t usually contain nickel, making it magnetic and easy to identify. The 300 series is a non-magnetic type of stainless steel and is the type that is most commonly seen at scrap metal yards, but there are variations in value depending on the actual grade. There is approximately 18% chromium and 8% nickel in a 304 grade stainless steel, which is why it is commonly known as 18-8 in the industry. However, 316 grade is made up of 16% chromium, 10% nickel and 2% molybdenum, which makes it more valuable than 304 grade.

For more information on various stainless steel grades, value and tips on recycling stainless steel in Falmouth, visit Mid City Scrap Iron & Salvage in Westport. You can also read and review the articles and information posted on this website for valuable tips that can help you increase your payout.

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