Steel vs. Aluminum – How Can You Tell Them Apart?

At Direct Metals Recycling, we accept nonferrous metals, which means we recycle aluminum but not steel. Do you have a piece of scrap that you’re unsure of the metal it is made of? There are a few simple ways to determine whether your scrap is aluminum or steel:

1. TintAluminium VS Steel

Steel is a darker grey color while aluminum is typically a lighter, almost white shiny metal. Sometimes, looks can be deceiving if the steel has some kind of plating over it.

2. Heft

Aluminum is one of the lightest metals that is used on a regular basis. If your piece of scrap is particularly heavy, it is probably steel.

3. Magnet

Most ferrous metals are magnetic, but aluminum is not. A simple test can be done with a refrigerator magnet to determine what type of metal your scrap is made of. If the magnet sticks to the scrap, it is probably a ferrous metal, but if the magnet does not stick, your scrap is most likely a nonferrous material.

4. Sparks

This is a test for the machinist type, but if you have a grinder you can run it on the edge of your scrap piece. If sparks are produced it will be steel and if there are no sparks it is make of aluminium. Experienced machinists can actually tell what type of material it is from the type of sparks produced.

5. Oxidation vs. Rust

Aluminium oxidizes and gets a white chalky surface on it while steel will simply rust and turn a flaky red/orange color.

These are five relatively simple tests to determine the difference between steel and aluminium. Hopefully, you will have come to the conclusion that you have a piece of aluminium and you will come sell it to us at Direct Metals Recycling! We have convenient locations in Atlanta, GA, Norcross, GA, Augusta, GA, and Macon, GA  so come see us today to receive top dollar for your scrap!