Testing Metal for Recycling Purposes
If you are preparing to recycle salvaged metal, the first item of business is to identify and separate the different types for processing. Ferrous metals, or those which contain the element iron, generally do not carry the same value as non-ferrous materials at recycling facilities, so this will be the first stage of distinction for most individuals. After separating out the two types, you can take additional steps to further distinguish metals with higher carbon, nickel, aluminum, and tungsten carbide contents.
The first step is known commonly as the magnet test, which is as simple as it sounds. It involves placing a magnet against a piece of unidentified metal to see if a magnetic attraction exists. Magnets stick to ferrous metal alloys, those which most commonly contain iron. Nickel and cobalt also feature similar magnetic properties, however, so this is not the sole measure of determining your metal’s makeup.
A recommended second step is a basic sight test. For example, copper can often be identified by its color. In a pure state, copper material is pinkish in appearance, although it may appear red or brown when tarnished. Copper also turns a greenish color when oxidized. This material is most commonly found in wiring, with applications including Christmas string lights, electrical cords, and machinery wires.
Meanwhile, aluminum can be easy to recognize visually due to its common nature. It is a lightweight, rust-proof material which is non-ferrous and is used for beverage cans among other purposes. By contrast, lead is very heavy and features a soft surface, one which can be etched with a knife tip. These attributes will further assist you in classifying your metals.
Finally, you can perform the spark test for more definitive identification. You’ll need a grinding wheel (such as on a bench grinder) and a piece of metal large enough that it won’t melt under pressure. Applying the metal sample to the grinding wheel will produce sparks, the properties of which will help distinguish the type that you’re dealing with.
For example, cobalt and nickel high-temperature alloys produce short, narrow sparks which are dark red in color. The same is true for cemented carbide materials. By contrast, titanium produces very bright white sparks in large quantities. 300 and 310 stainless steel produce orange to red-colored sparks in a straight-line orientation, while 400-series stainless are similar in color but are longer and have forks at the ends.
When absolute certainty is required, you’ll need to employ chemical testing, but for many common day-to-day needs, the spark test is sufficient to identify metal types. For more information about steel recycling in San Jose, you may visit this website.
With the advantage of having lots of experience in the Recycling Industry, Dustin shares his knowledge through his writing. You can find his thoughts at Tumblr blog.
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