Common Sources of Stainless Steel Scrap Metal

Stainless steel is a versatile, useful and valuable metal. It resists heat, rust, staining and pitting, with high strength and an attractive luster. As a scrap metal, stainless steel is valued for its high demand and ease of recycling. 

Let’s learn more about the most common sources of stainless steel scrap metal and how to get the most value from recycling scrap metals.

What is Stainless Steel?

Put simply, stainless steel is an alloy of iron and chromium. Chromium forms a film that protects the iron from rust and heat. However, there are more than 150 grades of stainless steel, and each one has specific properties. Stainless steel may contain carbon, nitrogen, aluminum, nickel, molybdenum, selenium or other metals that improve strength, corrosion resistance, heat resistance, abrasion resistance and other factors. The five basic types of stainless steel are: 

  1. Austenitic chromium-nickel-manganese alloys 
  2. Austenitic chromium-nickel alloys
  3. Ferritic and martensitic chromium alloys
  4. Heat-resisting chromium alloys
  5. Martensitic precipitation hardening alloys

In some cases, the alloys may be more valuable than the steel itself, and stainless steel prices can vary dramatically based on the exact composition.

Common Sources of Stainless Steel Scrap Metal

Stainless steel is used in everything from medical implants to skyscrapers. Recyclable stainless steel is usually found in tanks, ducts, pipes and anywhere else where metals need to resist corrosion. Here are some of the most common sources of scrap metal:

  • Architecture and construction. Stainless steel is an increasingly popular building material. Because it is so frequently and easily recycled, it is regarded as a sustainable building material and it is also prized for its durability and versatility. In construction, stainless steel can often be found in:
    • lintels, wall starters, windposts and masonry supports
    • architectural cladding and roofing
    • drainage and water systems
    • HVAC systems
  • Automotive and transportation. Stainless steel has been used in car trim and exhaust systems for decades. In recent years, stainless steel is increasingly used in automotive structural components and is also a source of scrap metal in watercraft, road tankers and refuse vehicles. Look for stainless steel in:
    • Vehicle exhaust systems, hose clamps and seatbelt springs.
    • Aircraft exhaust collectors, stacks, manifolds and control casings.
    • Boat propellers, anchors, ladders and hardware and accessories.
    • Trains and rail cars. Stainless steel is used for everything from the steel coils that join rail cars together, to handrails and tray tables inside passenger trains. 
    • Motorcycles. Motorcycle bodies are often made of stainless steel, which protects the bike from corrosion, dirt, wind and rain. 
  • Heavy industries and energy. Chemical, oil and gas companies rely on stainless steel for its heat and corrosion resistance. Heavy industries rely on rugged grades of stainless steel that provide high strength, reducing the need for structural support. Stainless steel can be found in a huge range of storage tanks, pipes, valves and other structural components. 
  • Foodservice sector. Stainless steel is used in every part of a professional kitchen, from the knives and cookware to the appliances and countertops. It does not affect food flavors and does not interact with food acids. It is also safe to use with powerful antibiotic cleaning products. 

How Much Is Scrap Stainless Steel Worth?

The price of scrap stainless steel depends greatly on the amount of nickel or other metals in the alloy. Increased demand is driving up prices for stainless steel, but prices for scrap steel and metals can fluctuate quite a bit. Among all the sources of scrap metal, stainless steel type 3xx is the most common and can be quite valuable. Because there are so many different stainless steel alloys, it is difficult to provide an accurate value estimate without grading the steel. For the most accurate estimate, contact Gardner Metal Recycling for a free quote

To get the most value from your scrap metal, follow these tips:

  1. Clean scrap metals, and remove dirt and plastic. Keeping scrap stainless steel clean and in good condition increases its value.  
  2. Separate scrap metal by type and grade for accurate pricing. Sorting and separating scrap metals ensures you get the most value for every type. 
  3. Partner with a metal recycling expert. Build a relationship with a professional recycling company that understands your industry. Gardner responsibly recycles a huge range of manufacturing and industrial materials, and we have a range of services to make recycling your scrap metals fast and easy. Working with a trusted partner ensures you get the most value from your scrap metal and steel recycling, so you save time and money while taking care of the planet. 

How Can Gardner Metal Recycling Help?

Gardner is an expert in commercial metal recycling. We buy a huge range of scrap metals from contractors, fabricators, utility providers and more. To find out how to get the most value from your stainless steel scrap metal, contact us today.