Difference between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metal

Key Difference:  Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are two different types of metals. This categorization is based on the iron content. In case the metal contains iron, it is known as a ferrous metal, otherwise a non-ferrous metal.

Ferrous word has been derived from the Latin word ferrum which means 'contains iron'. Therefore, it refers to those metals which contain iron. Ferrous metals may also contain some other metals or elements. The main properties of ferrous metals are that they get attracted to magnet and also possess little resistance to corrosion. It includes mild steel, carbon steel, cast iron, wrought iron, etc. Carbon steel contains 0.6 percent to 1.4 percent of carbon, whereas 98.6 to 99.4 percent iron.

These ferrous metals are used in various purposes like engineering etc.

Non-Ferrous metals are just the opposite of ferrous metals, as they do not contain any amount of iron. Due to absence of iron, they do not possess magnetic properties. They tend to be more resistant to corrosion than in comparison to ferrous metals. Aluminium, zinc and tin are all examples of non-ferrous metals.

Therefore, ferrous and non-ferrous metals are not the same. The main difference is presence of iron in the metal. Non-ferrous metals are mostly preferred over ferrous metals as they do not rust like ferrous metals. Therefore, ferrous metals are used in a variety of applications.

An advantage of  ferrous metals is that they do  get attracted by a magnet, and therefore can be used in applications like audio speakers, computer printers and microphone parts, as magnetic attraction is required in these kinds of applications. Non-Ferrous metals tend to be more lightweight than in comparison to ferrous metals. However, they are not considered to be as strong as many of the ferrous metals. Ferrous metals are generally cheaper than non-ferrous metals.

Comparison between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metal:


Ferrous Metals

Non-Ferrous Metals


These are metals which contain iron

These are metals which do not have any iron in them

Resistance to corrosion






Some Examples with applications

  • Mild Steel – it is iron mixed with carbon. Used as building girds, cars, gates, etc.
  • Cast Iron – it is also iron and carbon, but also contains other elements. Basically a re-melted pig iron. Used as car cylinders, pillar drill, etc.
  • Stainless steel – alloy of iron with chromium and nickel. Used in cutlery and cookware
  • High speed steel – Made up of tungsten, chromium and vanadium. Used in milling cutters and drill bits
  • Aluminium – it is made up of aluminum, copper and manganese. It is used in kitchen ware and window frames
  • Copper – it is not an alloy. It is used in electrical wiring and pipes
  • Brass – It is made of copper and zinc. Used in parts for electrical fittings
  • Silver – Mainly in pure form but is alloyed with copper to form sterling silver. Used in jewellery, solder and ornaments


Generally more

Generally less

Image Courtesy: buzzle.com, mervis.com

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