Separating different materials before recycling them makes sense most of the time. You can't mix paper with glass in the machinery that breaks down the materials because the recycling methods are so different. But you also have to separate materials that may seem similar on the outside, such as metals. This is not an intuitive action to people who are new to metal recycling, but it's a necessary step. Recycling doesn't just depend on the basic type of material. It also depends on what the material can be used for after recycling, as well as on its inherent properties.

Different Strengths and Tolerances

Each metal has its own strengths and tolerances, with some better suited for this or that application. For example, a stainless steel alloy dish rack is better at repelling oxidation than a piece of pure iron, so you wouldn't want a dish rack made of pure iron. The water would ruin it in no time. Forgetting its high value for the moment, gold is too soft to act as a hammer head, while steel is perfect for that purpose. You wouldn't want to mix metals in a recycling center, melt them all together, and then try to create tools with them because the different metals would react in different ways to stress, heat, and other factors.

Integrity of Recycled Material for Sale

In a similar vein, metals have to be separated so that buyers know exactly what they're getting. The metal is melted down during the recycling process, and someone looking for 100 percent recycled steel needs to know that he or she is buying something that is 100 percent steel -- not around 80 percent steel, possibly 15 percent copper, and maybe 5 percent mixed metals. The only way to ensure that is to keep all of the different metals separate from the start of the recycling process.

Varied Levels of Conductivity

Also important are the levels of conductivity, be they related to heat or electric current. When someone uses metal for a project, they rely on the metal having a certain level of conductivity. It could be disastrous if the metal turned out to be a mix of materials, some of which conducted electric current too well for the user's purpose.

If you're not quite sure of the composition of the metal you have, bring it to a recycling center that specializes in scrap metal, especially if they can pull out the ferrous items (these are the ones that magnets will attract). Let the specialists figure out what you have so that you can be sure you're recycling the items properly.

For more information, contact companies like Beartown  Recycling.