How To Start Selling Scrap Metal To Make Extra Cash and Reduce Waste

This is an introductory article for those interested in recycling scrap metal but who need some help getting started. If you are already familiar with the metal recycling industry than you need to read the  Scrapper’s Handbook to find out just how much money you have thrown away for all these years. 

What do you do with your old appliances…? Your broken computers…? Your empty soda cans? Every time you discard old metal items, you are actually throwing away money!

Every metal product – from patio furniture to broken golf clubs –  has value, and that value is determined by how much metal and what type of metal the item is constructed with.

For example, an old broken aluminum pot is worthless to you as cookware; but as aluminum scrap, it is worth at least a few dollars! Broken Stainless Steel grills are found in landfills all the time, and most people have no idea they are worth up to $100 as scrap metal.

What Items Can I Sell As Scrap Metal?

Answer: Anything constructed with metal! (That includes anything that is electronic or that plugs into the wall.)

If you just opened a can of corn, you can wash out the can and set it to the side. If you are tearing down your old scrap pool, you can sell the frame for a few hundred dollars!

Things you will need to get started:

  1. Someplace to store your scrap metal (can be a box for smaller items, or your garage for bigger items)
  2. Some where to sell your scrap metal (see below “Where to Sell you Scrap Metal”)
  3. Some way to transport your scrap metal(can be anything from a dump truck, to a compact car, to a bicycle)
  4. Some tools to tear down and sort your metal items (optional, but very highly recommended)

As you get more ambitious, you will see why scrap metal recycling is the most common, and profitable, form of recycling.

Saving Your Scrap Metal

The first step in selling your scrap metal is to collect and save any worthless metal items that you don’t want or need. Broken christmas lights (copper wire), old toasters (steel body and copper wire cord), and old car parts are all examples of items worth saving.

Scrap metal can also be salvaged from other types of items: for example, an old wood door often has brass handles and steel hardware. Pull these metal parts and store them in a scrap metal box. (Larger items can be stored in the garage). Then at the end of the month you can sell everything you planned on throwing away to make $20, $50, or even a few hundred dollars.

If you get more interested in recycling scrap metal, you will quickly learn the secrets to what make it most profitable.

Where To Sell Your Scrap Metal

Scrap metals are sold at Scrap Yards. A scrap yard is a business that acts as a middle man between you and a metal refinery (or sometimes a bigger scrap yard.)

There are 5 main points that a beginning metal recycler needs to know about scrap yards:

  1. To sell your scrap metal you need to be at least 16, and have a valid photo ID.
  2. Every scrap yard has different categories and prices for their scrap, and no two scrap yards are the same.
  3. Scrap yards weigh your metal items by the pound, and will pay you after they categorize and weigh your scrap.
  4. Scrap yards compete with each other by offering better pricing in different scrap metal categories.
  5. Scrap yards will take advantage of you if you give them the opportunity to.

Before selling your scrap metal, call around to a few scrap yards to see what their pricing is for aluminum, copper, copper wire, steel, etc. The interaction you have on the phone will be indicative of your experience at the scrap yard; If they have a pleasant attitude and seem helpful, they will most likely be pleasant and helpful when you get to the scrap yard. If they act like you’re wasting their time, then you should try to find someplace a little more customer friendly (especially as a first-timer).

How To Learn More about Selling Scrap Metal

You are in the right place! Scrap Metal Junkie has been educating scrappers since 2010, and is the #1 resource for metal recycling tutorials. Just check out our Scrapper’s Handbook!

Remember that the more you know about the value of your metals, the more you will be paid for them!

If you have a specific question, I suggest you post it to our free, public Scrap Metal Recycling Forum. If have suggestions, questions, or inquires for me, send them to or comment on this post!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

SomeScrapper June 27, 2012 at 12:47 am

5. Scrap yards will take advantage of you if you give them the opportunity to.

I’ve seen those mostly from people who don’t sort their materials or don’t check things.

For example having a box of mixed metal and wire or 3xx stainless with 4xx stainless.

I won’t mention which yard but the guy said: “You gotta break things down as much as practical.”


robert taylor September 6, 2012 at 4:40 am

I would like to recycle, scrap, my mercury I have a couple pounds what is the best way to do it? the mercury is left over from my gold mineing hobby over 25 years ago, I paid for it i hope i can sell it


Heidi Peterson September 12, 2012 at 3:36 am

I’m new at it, I’m addicted to it, I just bought a sawzall today. You can only dissassemble so much with a couple of screwdrivers, an ancient ice-pick and a pry bar. So much to learn, so much $$$ to make, and OH HOW MUCH CASH I JUST HANDED OVER to the unfriendly guys who couldn’t take a minute and let me know how much my ignorance was costing me. Lesson learned! I have found the scrap yard of my dreams. Good Luck to you all and keep reading this site—-


ted naglak November 8, 2012 at 8:24 pm

What is the current value of titanium metal prices?


Monique Bates September 10, 2013 at 3:49 am

Thank you so much for creating this websight.i just got into scrapping,and i’m hooked.i have been taken advantage of but its time to educate myself.thanx


Jonathan January 6, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Hi I just bought a truck because wanted to start scraping metal and I don’t know where to start,where to look I’m open for pointers write back
Thank you


The Fat Spanner October 30, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Also take into consideration that some scrap metal may have more value to other people other than the scrap yard owners. So do your research before handing in scrap metal to the scrap yard. But very good guide indeed thank you !

The Fat Spanner


mncedisi November 11, 2014 at 6:07 am

I like to start a busines of cash for scrap i don’t know were to start pls help mncedisi makhaya Johannesburg. SA


CAMPBELL June 30, 2015 at 2:46 pm

What is material: 4130+TC?


Wesley Colberth March 7, 2016 at 10:01 pm

I am very glad I stumbled on this article about selling scrap metal. I did enjoy reading the five main points on how to sell scrap metal at the best price and how to deal with the buyer. I assume that there are scrap metal buyers who cater their services to commercial businesses and contractors because of the large demand of trashing and recycling that they produce.


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