Sorting your scrap metal will help the scrap metal recycling facility give you the best price for your metals! Identifying scrap metal doesn’t have to be a complicated or confusing process. With the spark test, you can quickly identify almost any kind of (ferrous) metal! When you apply heat and friction to a metal to the point where it sparks, you’ll be able to tell what kind of metal it is by the characteristics of the sparks. This article will be a guide for using the spark test to identify all kinds of ferrous scrap metal!

How To Do The Spark Test

There are two ways to do the spark test for identifying scrap metal. One way is to put a grinder on the metal to create sparks, while another is to use a heated sample of the metal and apply compressed air to produce sparks. By observing the pattern and characteristics of the sparks, you can determine the type of metal you have. 

Types Of Metals And How They Spark

Many different common metals can be identified by using the spark test. Below is a list of metals and their spark characteristics to help you determine what your scrap metal is: 

  • Wrought Iron: These sparks typically spray out in a straight line that widens near the end, like the shape of a leaf.
  • Mild Steel: Sparks from mild steel are similar to wrought iron, but these sparks are white and have more variation in length. 
  • Medium-Carbon Steel: Medium-carbon steel sparks have more forking than mild steel and a wide variety of spark lengths, with a higher concentration near the grinding wheel. 
  • High-Carbon Steel: These sparks have a bushy pattern (lots of forking) that starts at the grinding wheel. High-carbon steel sparks are not as bright as those from medium-carbon steel. 
  • 300-Series Stainless Steel: These sparks are not as dense as carbon steel sparks, do not fork, and are orange/yellow in color. 
  • 310-Series Stainless Steel: These sparks are much shorter and thinner than the 300-series sparks. They are red to orange in color and do not fork. 
  • 400-Series Stainless Steel: 400-series stainless steel sparks are similar to 300-series sparks but are slightly longer and have forks at the ends of the sparks. 
  • Cast Iron: Cast iron has very short sparks that begin at the grinding wheel.
  • Nickel & Cobalt: High-temperature alloys of nickel and cobalt create short, thin sparks that do not fork and are dark-red in color. 
  • Titanium: Titanium is one of few non-ferrous metals that produce a lot of sparks. These sparks are easily distinguishable from ferrous metals, as they are a very brilliant white color. 

Sell Your Scrap Metal To Middleboro Recycling Center!

Middleboro Recycling Center buys scrap metal from residents and businesses in Southeastern Massachusetts! If you have any questions about selling your scrap metal to us, please don’t hesitate to contact Middleboro Recycling Center! A member of our team would be happy to help you in any way that we can. Give us a call at (508) 946-2383 or fill out the contact form on our website. If you’re wondering what your scrap metal might be worth, check out the pricing page on our website!