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  • Writer's pictureWinthrop Steel Company

How can you get more value out of your scrap metal?

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

How can you get more value out of your scrap metal?
How can you get more value out of your scrap metal?

Start From Your Home

Is the clutter in your home starting to pile up?

Don’t run a garage sale just yet!

A lot of common household items have precious recyclable metals in them – from pressure cookers, electrical wires, and pipe fittings, to light strips and more.

You’d be surprised at how much more you can get by sending them to your local scrap yard instead of reselling them. Just look hard and you’ll find them.

Old or broken appliances, in particular, are an excellent source of recyclable metals. Air conditioners, dishwashers, freezers, and washing machines have them in spades. Other home appliances may look plain broken on the outside but their unseen parts can contain expensive materials. So disassemble them first before handing them over.

Clean And Sort Your Scrap

Nah, you don’t need to scrub your metals with water and soap. Let me explain.

Many collection yards prefer and even pay extra for prepared scraps. These have been trimmed down to size and have no extra attachments, making the yard’s job easier.

So while they may still accept copper wiring with insulating material still in place, removing the latter is in your best interest. Do the same for any other material on the surface of the scrap like bolts, rusty nails, and caps.


Remember that metals have different grades.

Copper, for example, has 2 varieties. #1 has nothing on it. No alloys, coating, nor insulation. Almost the entire weight of the scrap is copper. Unsurprisingly, #1 commands a higher price than #2, whose weight is only 95% copper due to a tin finish, plating, or other impurities.

So sort the pieces of scrap according to their grade. We’ve already mentioned separating your pile according to metal type. But to get more value out of your hard work, you ought to take this extra step.

Check Out These Hot Spots

After rummaging through your home, you may have a tough time finding other pieces of junk. Such is often the case when you’re starting out. To make sure you have a steady supply of recyclable metal, check out these locations in your community.


Apartment buildings can be a consistent source of scrap metal. So grab a map of your community, find these locations, and approach the maintenance officer in charge. Ask them to let you know if they need to dispose of any metal trash, and be sure to leave a business card.


Businesses, regardless of the size, will throw away valuable stuff at one point. A retailer might get rid of damaged shopping carts. Offices may upgrade their PCs. And when that happens, you want them (or the facility or office manager) to call you to move the trash.


Scraping from a construction site can prove profitable. But know that you need written permission from the contractor before getting started. Some construction companies sell their scrap themselves, and you don’t want them accusing you of theft.


While these shops may not turn their car scraps to you, the dumpsters nearby can have auto parts full of recyclable metal. Some dumpster owners may not appreciate you going through their junk, while others won’t mind. So be sure to ask for permission.

Keep The Thieves At Bay

If you plan to store your scrap in a garage or shed, keep the place secure by using a good quality lock. The best ones out there can cost a lot. But if you plan to collect scrap metal full-time, the investment is more than worth it.

Note, however, that scrap thieves may come with bolt and lock cutters. So don’t hesitate to use multiple locks and chains.

If you live in a place where incidents of scrap theft run high, consider storing your scrap in a storage facility. Using a storage unit comes with a monthly price. But the 24/7 surveillance, security staff, and controlled access ensure your junk/valuables won’t go missing.

Know Your Local Metal Scrap Yards

Without local yards, you’d have nowhere to take your junk to and you can’t exchange it for cash. So compile a list of metal scrap yards in your area. Start by looking at your state government website. Chances are, you’ll find a directory of recycling locations and scrap buyers, which you can narrow down.

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