Metal Identification: How to Identify What Type of Metal Something Is

Identifying the type of metal that something is made of can be important for a variety of reasons. For example, it can help determine the appropriate welding technique to use, or it can help determine the scrap value of a piece of metal. In this article, we will discuss some common methods for identifying what type of metal something is.

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  • 1. Visual Inspection

    The first step in identifying a metal is to visually inspect it. Look for any distinguishing characteristics, such as color, texture, or sheen. For example, aluminum is lightweight and has a dull silver color, while copper has a reddish-brown color and is quite heavy.

    2. Magnet Test

    Another simple method for identifying metal is to perform a magnet test. Most ferrous metals, such as steel and iron, are magnetic. Non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, copper, and brass, are not magnetic. Place a magnet near the metal and see if it is attracted to it.

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  • 3. Spark Test

    The spark test is another method for identifying a metal. Using a grinder, create a spark by grinding the metal against a hard surface. Observe the sparks and compare them to a chart or reference material to determine the metal type. For example, carbon steel will produce bright white sparks, while stainless steel will produce more subdued sparks.

    4. Density Test

    Density is another characteristic that can be used to identify a metal. Each metal has a unique density, which is the mass per unit volume. By weighing the metal and measuring its volume, the density can be calculated and compared to known values for different metals.

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  • 5. Acid Test

    The acid test is a method for identifying metals based on their reaction to acid. Place a drop of acid, such as hydrochloric acid, on the metal surface and observe the reaction. The acid will react differently with different metals, allowing for identification. For example, copper will turn green, while aluminum will not react.


    Identifying the type of metal something is can be done through a variety of methods, including visual inspection, magnet test, spark test, density test, and acid test. By using these methods, you can determine the appropriate welding technique to use or determine the scrap value of a piece of metal. However, it is important to note that these methods may not always provide a definitive identification, and additional testing or analysis may be required.