# Identify Metals

If your like me and make scrap metal sculpture then it can sometimes be hard to identify what metal the scrap is made of. In this instructable I will show you how too identify some of the more common metals. NOTE: These are not all the metals there are, there are thousands and I couldn't possibly tell about all of them. Also if you bend tin it will make a light "snapping" sound.
Remove these ads by Signing Up

## Step 1: Ferrous or Nonferrous?

Ferrous means that the metal has iron content which in most cases makes it magnetic and nonferrous means it doesn't have iron in it. An example of a ferrous metal is mild steel, also known as low carbon steel. An example of a nonferrous metal is copper or aluminum. Its always a good idea to bring a magnet to the scrap yard.

## Step 2: Aluminum

Aluminum is a shiny grey metal and has a clear oxide that forms on contact with air. This may not be the best thing for identifying it, but aluminums melting point is 658° C (1217°F). Also aluminum is non sparking. Aluminums density is 2.70 g/cm3, this is a good way to identify it because you can find the density of a material by density = mass ÷ volume. As i said earlier, aluminum is nonferrous.

## Step 3: Bronze

Most bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, but architectural bronze actually has a small amount of lead in it. Bronze has a dark coppery color and gets a green oxide over a period of time. bronze's melting point is 850-1000°C (1562-1832°F) depending on how much of each metal is in it. Bronze is nonferrous. Because bronze is an alloy densities vary. Bronze vibrates like a bell when hit.

## Step 4: Brass

Brass is another copper alloy but it has zinc instead of tin. Brass has a yellow gold color. Brass' melting point is 900-940°C (1652-1724°F) depending on how much of each metal they used. Brass is nonferrous. Because brass is an alloy its density varies. If hit brass vibrates like a bell, this can be used to determine if something is brass instead of gold.
 1-40 of 85 Next »
MrMercenary2 months ago
This helps a lot. I'm just starting to work with metals and make alloys.
super elephant4 years ago
this is not a tuba or a baratone, and for other posters, it is not a trombone, trumpet, or a baratone horn. THIS IS CALLED AN EUPHONEUM
(You-phone-E-yuMM). As proof, i play euphoneum, trumpit, trombone, baratone, and tuba! I also have facts here.

This is a tuba, it is extremely large, heavy, and has 4 valves faceing outwords, a short bell, and all adjustment slides are on the inside. the picture posted on this instructable can not be a tuba. (the first picture is a tuba)

this cant be a baratone. It has a long bell pipe, and it doesn't have so many adjustment pipes,has 3 valves, sometimes 4, alvays pointing out, not up like a trumpits, and onley one tuneing slide. the picture posted on the instructable is not a baratone.(the baratone is the second picture)

this cant be a trombone because a trombone is long thin, has a long slide, and sometimes has one valve, BIG difference.(trombone is picture # 3)

a trumpit is about 1 1/2 feet long(sizes verry slightly), thin, and has three valves pointing up. (trumpit is picture # 4)

a baratone horn is like a trumpit, onley slightly larger than a big trumpit, witn a big bell. (baratone horn is picture # 5)

Finally the euphoneum, the euphoneum is like a baratone, onley with a short wide bell, always 3 valves pointing up, and many tubes inside and out. the picture is an euphoneum (the euphoneum is picture # 6)
1 year ago
I am playing on a tuba that looks just like this, although I would prefer one with 4 rotary valves like the one you have pictured. Also you see that little ring on the 2nd valve? It's not in the right place for the little finger (like the baritone you have pictured). It also has 2 thick pipes near the bell, euphonium/baritone would have one.
3 years ago
The correct spelling is Trumpet
3 years ago
A tuba might have any of the valve configurations you mention. I have 3 in the house right now - one with 3 upright valves like the original picture, one with the 3 valves facing outward, like in your second picture, and one with 4 rotors, like in your first picture. (I also have 2 marching contrabass bugles with upright valves, like your picture of the marching baritone). A baritone could be thought of as a bass trumpet - they both have cylindrical tubing, whereas a euphonium is more of a tenor tuba - they both have conical tubing, which is also the difference between a trumpet and a cornet. Different manufacturers have different configurations of valves and tubing - some upright, some facing forward, some rotary, some 3 valve, 4 valve - some tubas have up to 6. There are even trumpets that have 4 rotary valves. Your 5th picture is a marching baritone as opposed to a concert horn. A marching euphonium would look similar, but usually has larger diameter tubing and a larger bell.
3 years ago
Alrite, you sound like you know what you are talking about, but that is a euphoneum, it is my current main insterment, and they look exactly the same, except, the one i have is all dented and ugly.
by the way, for all who read about the baratone horn above, that picture isnt a baratone horn. my bad :( . it is a flugel horn.
3 years ago
Just a little correction which is correct by nukeme, 'baritone' not baratone.
lazyoaks1 year ago
Wow, that is interesting stuff!
Great writeup. I am going to write this down plus a few of the comments on a card to carry with me. Thanks
Jack A Lopez4 years ago
Step 10 could use some editing.

You used the word "allow" for what I think should be "alloy".   Also "there" instead of "they're"

However the major problem is the phrase "us nickels" I am guessing that you are referring to a particular coin found in the Former United States.  The only reason I was capable of decoding this ambiguous language is because I happen to live in the FUS, and I have seen these coins, and I have verified that a strong magnet will not stick to them.  It's the one with a face value of  5/100 FUSD, a "5 cent" piece.  The problem  is that no one living outside the  FUS will have any idea what you're talking about.  What does the phrase "us nickels" mean?  Does it mean all nickel alloys produced in the Former U.S. actually have copper in them?  Does the phrase mean "our nickels", nickels belonging to usAll your nickels are belong to us? It's totally unclear!

So I humbly suggest editing it to something like "U.S. five cent pieces, commonly called nickels, are not magnetic because they are made from a non-magnetic copper-nickel alloy", or something like that.

Overall, I like this 'ible, but Step 10 is just a spelling/grammar/semantic train wreck.  I hope you find this comment helpful.

2 years ago
"Former" United States????? I know the states are heading downhill, but did not think it had capitulated just yet.
2 years ago
I dunno. It is really not the same place it used to be, and I think the changes that have taken place are significant enough the word "former" is an appropriate descriptor, and it would be dishonest of me to just call it the US, or America, without the word "former"in front of those words.
tranoxx (author)  Jack A Lopez4 years ago
ill change this, thanks for telling me
4 years ago
Glad I could help. BTW, this 'ible is so metal!!! Pun intended.
;-)

dlemke2 years ago
Another word that could be used here for oxidize, is "Patina". Most refer to "Patina" when describing the green color of copper based metals, even though the dictionary says: "A fine coating of oxide on the surface of a metal".

Might add some color to your excellent paper on metals. Pun intended.....
jim5150jvc3 years ago
Great instructable!! But I'm a big nerd, and like all big nerds, I can't let this instructable go by without stating MY favorite trace-metal: NIOBIUM. Hypo-allergenic jewelry wire (like earring loops) often is made with niobium alloys. you can buy a pair pretty cheap, and they're especially useful if your metal sculpture wears earrings.
mbreukel3 years ago
pretty nice guide of metals, my dad is a scrap collector for the good cause and we have to help from time to time so i know a bit how to see what metal is what.

weight helps a lot for several pieces, as you said alu is light, steal is heavier etc.
color doesnt always say something, a piece of tin can look the same as a piece of lead(its just a lot lighter)

if you dont know exactly what is is, try bending it. stainless is way harder to bend then the same item in plain iron.

also a thing my father used to do when he began(or above steps never worked) was using a file to file away a corner. the harder the metal the less you file away with 1 strike. after a while you wont need this anymore, if you work enough with metals

jmoore333 years ago
i dug up a bunch of iron from my back yard ( there is an old coverd wagon thing in my back yard and there was a lot of iron) i got 5 bucks for it in a scrap yard
Master Beorn3 years ago
Thermite is easy to make, and it is equally easy to KILL YOURSELF WITH IT. Please keep that in mind.
Great writeup. I've just started playing around with metal work and have no doubt this will come in handy.
gold is found in computers to join solers because it is very conductive(i knw im smart and only 13) and not you cannot get rich by taking the gold solers out of dead computers. you would need alot and i mean alot of computers to get rich. not even the amount of computers at my school is enough (about 15 every classroom give or take)
tranoxx (author)  shadow wave rider3 years ago
btw im 12
3 years ago
ok sorry for braging. did you reaserch this or did you do it from memory.
tranoxx (author)  shadow wave rider3 years ago
both
Azzazil3 years ago
This is very useful :), nice work.
SirStokes3 years ago
What/Where is the burning magnesium picture from?
3 years ago
Hahaha, I've done that before! In my metallurgy class at school we had a magnesium brake rotor from a commercial airliner lying around and we knew about it's self-reinforcing flammability once heated over its critical temperature. Needless, to say we shaved a few strips off of it and to the oxy-acetylene torch to it in the lot outside the shop. It got red hot them combusted into an intense white flame. It was awesome! And lit left a hole straight through the concrete and asphalt...so word to the wise, be carefully with this stuff!!! I also highly recommend playing with thermite if you can get some! It's easy enough to make, but we got a bag from the railroad company for one of our final projects. Fun stuff, dangerous, but fun!!!
tranoxx (author)  SirStokes3 years ago
hmm, I cant seem to find it again but I searched magnesium fire in google images.
3 years ago
I remember where its from. Some guy burned a magnesium engine block from a VW. Plug "magnesium vw block fire" into youtube and its in there somewhere.
ischorr3 years ago
What do you have against apostrophes? :)
Armandur3 years ago
If you bend Tin you'll hear some light "snapping".
ZIGGYDAN3 years ago
Copper is actually more conductive than gold, gold is primarily used for connectors as is doesnt oxidise and will therefore make a good connection, hence it is used on high quality scart/hd leads to prevent bad connection which could degrade signal quality :)
tranoxx (author)  ZIGGYDAN3 years ago
Thank you, I will change this in the instructable.
gearskin3 years ago
Stainless steel and aluminum both form an oxide layer called a passivation layer that is non-porous to oxygen, thereby protecting the interior of the metal from further oxidization.
thepelton3 years ago
One thing I would add. Copper, silver and gold vibrate like a bell when tapped, indeed many bells are bronze. The giveaway that it is gold and not brass is the weight. Gold is about the heaviest non radioactive metal in the periodic table, the only ones heavier are mercury which is liquid, and bismuth, which looks nothing like gold. Gold has a specific gravity just above nineteen, which means its slightly more than nineteen times heavier than water. If you have held a real gold coin, you can't be taken in by a brass substitute.
3 years ago
You are wrong on the subject of densities. While gold does have a density of about 19.3 kg/m^3, both mercury (13.53) and Bizmuth (9.08) are lighter than gold. There are four non-radioactive metals heavier than gold - Rhenium (21.02), Platinum (21.46), Iridium (22.56) and Osmium (22.61).
tranoxx (author)  vidakk3 years ago
But still those four non-radioactive metals still look nothing like gold.
3 years ago
Gold is extremely ductile. The thing that gave it away at the strike at Sutter's Mill was when someone smashed it between two rocks, and it flattened without shattering.
tranoxx (author)  thepelton3 years ago
Thanks this will be a great addition!
Arano4 years ago
On some pictures you are saying 'unpolished' when something else would be more accurate as it's the cristaline form of the metal.
If you want i could provide you with a chemical way to identify the metalls. when you do it that way it would improve your accuracy from guessing to nearly sure.
 1-40 of 85 Next »