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What is the Difference Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals?

Metals are divided into two categories ferrous and non-ferrous. We will discuss both in detail in the following passages and along with examples. 

Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metals include metals that contain iron. They contain high carbon content. They are strong, durable, and have magnetic properties. They can corrode and rust due to the presence of carbon; however, stainless steel is an exception because it contains chromium which provides it protection from corrosion and rusting. The list of common ferrous metals is given below:


Steel contains iron and carbon. Other elements such as chromium, nickel, etc. are added to steel in order to enhance its properties. Steel is produced by heating and combing metals and elements in furnaces. It is used in several applications due to its hardness, durability, and toughness. The most common applications of steel include but are not limited to construction, manufacturing, architecture, etc. 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is also a ferrous metal and it contains iron and chromium. Chromium makes stainless steel corrosion-resistant and rust-free. It has excellent mechanical properties and one of the most commonly used metals for several applications such as medical equipment, industrial machinery, construction and architectural purpose etc. 

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is steel that has a higher content of carbon as compared to other steel types. It is exceptionally hard and is considered suitable for manufacturing of machine parts such as drills, taps, blades, etc.

Alloy Steel

Alloy steel is carbon steel that is alloyed with one or more elements in amounts ranging from 1% to 50% by weight and can bring a change in its mechanical properties. The elements used for alloying are chromium, manganese, nickel, cobalt, molybdenum, aluminum, titanium, tungsten, and vanadium. Alloy steel is used in a wide variety of applications from aircraft to marines, pressure vessels, railways, structural components, machine parts, chemical processing units, automobiles, kitchen appliances, and equipment, etc.

Cast Iron

Cast iron alloy is composed of iron which is metal along with carbon, and silicon content. It is hard, tough, and wear and stress-resistant. It is used in several applications including water pipes, kitchen utensils, machine tools, automobiles, and stoves. 

Non-Ferrous Metals

Non-Ferrous metals as the name suggests are the metals that do not contain iron. They are corrosion-resistant, malleable, lightweight and have non-magnetic properties. They have a higher level of resistance to corrosion and rusting as compared to ferrous metals. The list of common non-ferrous metals is given below:


Aluminum is a shiny and silver, corrosion-resistant alloy which is light in weight and has high strength at low temperatures. Aluminum is used in different forms including angles, sheets, channels, wires, and beams which are used for manufacturing several products such as aircraft and automobile parts, window and door frames, plumbing accessories, support structures and interior and exterior applications.


Copper is an element that is supple and ductile. It is one of the most commonly used industrial metals because of its characteristics after iron and aluminum. It has an orange shiny tone and occurs naturally in a useable form. It has a very high electric conductivity. Copper is used for several applications because of its resistance to corrosion, ductility, strength, hardness, and electric and thermal conductivity. It is used for several different purposes including condensers, decoration, plumbing, architecture, coinage, musical instruments, electrical equipment, etc.


Brass is an alloy that is primarily made of copper and zinc. It is a bright golden metal that is corrosion-resistant, durable, hygienic and has a low melting point. It is used for manufacturing several products such as nuts and bolts, machine parts, fittings, couplings, ornaments, doorknobs, electronic components, plumbing parts, and many other applications.


Zinc is a non-ferrous metal having a low melting point and medium strength. It is mainly used for the purpose of galvanization in order to protect the iron from rust and corrosion.


Tin is also a non-ferrous metal which ductile and has low tensile strength. Just like zinc, it is also used as a preventive coating in order to protect steel from rust and corrosion.