A magnet will stick to nickel silver

Ferry explains the world of scrap metal: nickel and stainless steel

Hello, I'm the Ferry, one of the many hard-working people An iron at the junkyard of Scrap metal crane. As a gifted narrator - that doesn't come from me, everyone agrees Scrap metal crane - May I bring you closer to the world of nickel and its alloys, such as stainless steel. Follow me into the world of the expensive industrial metal nickel, which has always been recycled!


There are people who relax while gardening, others while peeling potatoes and still others while running. For me washing dishes is pure relaxation, the dishwasher is my greatest enemy - well, it's not that bad.

I stand in front of the sink, completely relaxed, and have to think about the scrap metal again. I'm really a scrap metal junkie now. Are the dishes made of chrome steel or stainless steel? Of course I have my Ferry magnet with me: Ah, it doesn't stick, so stainless steel. You can try that too.

Stainless steel - simply brilliant

Why is it actually called Nirosta? And what is stainless steel? That's what I asked myself when I got my junkOn ironCareers at Scrap metal crane started. The derivation of the name is so easy it is hard to believe. It stands for: stainless steel - simply brilliant!

And how do you do it? By adding - very simply - nickel and chromium to iron. Nickel is so “strong” that 6-10% nickel is enough to make Nirosta immune to rust. This of course has its price. Nickel is around 10-15 times more expensive than iron.

Speaking of expensive: nickel is also part of the alloy in the 1 and 2 euro coins. Pure nickel is magnetic and that is what you take advantage of with the coins: this is how machines distinguish whether they are genuine 1 and 2 euro coins or whether they are worthless forgeries of the same size.


Back to the sink - or to the sink as they say in Germany: Regardless of whether it is made of stainless steel or chrome steel, the dishes should be completely clean for recycling. Fittings made of brass or wood, which is often attached for reinforcement, interfere with melting and reduce the quality and price.

I never thought that I could explain terms such as chrome steel, stainless steel, stainless steel, stainless steel, refined steel, nickel silver, cast iron and what other technical terms there are to you while washing the dishes. It's like an entire junkyard has found refuge in my washing up.


A silver mix: nickel, nickel silver and stainless steel

There are the stainless steel pots next to the chrome steel salad bowl; the small frying pan made of nickel has fled to the edge of the basin; Stainless steel cutlery is immersed in the bottom of the basin; the salad servers made of nickel silver look boldly out of the head and the stainless steel pan is still dry so that it can finally join the others in the water.

It looks something like that in my head: a big mess of technical terms. Washing up can be very exhausting.

So how do I put some order in the mess? I don't have an analysis device or the “steel key” (note: this is a book with all the material numbers) at hand. Only the magnet can help. As I was taught on the first day at work: The magnet is the most important tool of the scrap metal dealer.

Everything that is magnetic comes on one side: chrome steel, pure nickel and the pan made of cast iron. Ok, that looks good.

The magnet: the most important tool of the scrap metal dealer

Stainless steel and nickel silver are not magnetic and come on the other side. But what is what? I can do that as a An iron-Sort professional doesn't really recognize it. But there is a simple trick: Nirosta cutlery very often has 18/10 or 18/8 embossed on the back. This means that the cutlery consists of 18% chrome and 10% or 8% nickel. The rest is iron.

I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Washing up can be so instructive. If you just put everything in the dishwasher, you won't even notice it. Sure, things have to happen quickly in the hospitality industry. All devices and surfaces must be made of stainless steel (for information: the short form of stainless steel). Nirosta is not attacked by alkalis and acids - thanks to nickel - and is easy to clean.


At the scrap yard, however, stainless steel devices cause a lot of work. Like us, they have to An iron say to be "worked out". This means that all hoses, switches and fittings are removed from the devices. Cables are also not allowed. Copper in stainless steel is simply a disaster. Often we have to cut iron off the stainless steel. This is only possible with the help of special cutting devices, because stainless steel is very hard. This work is expensive and we only do it with large machines. Everything else goes into the shredder, where the individual metals are first "chopped up" and then separated in many steps. But this is another story.

Not all steel is created equal

Before it comes to drying, I would like to explain a term. That always causes confusion: stainless steel. Both stainless steel and chrome steel are stainless steels. Chromium steel is a magnetic stainless steel, stainless steel is a non-magnetic one. Stainless steel therefore only means that steel has been refined with some other metal in order to give it a special property. Chromium, manganese, nickel, vanadium or molybdenum are the most common alloy metals.

Incredible: That was metal science from the kitchen. I am deeply immersed in the world of metals and scrap metals. I didn't even leave the apartment. What my boss always says: "We are surrounded by metals and don't even notice it".

While I - but only with two of my four hands - wash my dishes and pans made of stainless steel, cutlery made of stainless steel or nickel silver and my salad bowl made of chrome steel wander through my hands, I'm already impressed by the achievements of the people. It's like cooking: by adding different ingredients you change the taste of a dish. The appearance and properties of the starting metal are changed by adding various other metals. Something completely new is emerging.

By the way: The fact that I only use two of my four hands to wash dishes is my personal way of slowing down.

For everyone who, like me, just still wants to know more, here is my personal link collection:



  • The Nickel Institute offers plenty of opportunities to get lost in the topic: Link
  • The stainless steel information center offers extensive reading material to anyone interested: Link