How To Sell Scrap Copper

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The trick to selling scrap copper is to sell it directly to a scrap yard. If you are in the USA, chances are there is one or more scrap yards somewhere in your town/county/city that you may or may not know about.

Every scrap yard will be interested in buying your scrap copper. It is your job as a scrap seller to find the scrap yard with the best price, and that is closest to your house or place of business. You can always call a scrap yard and ask about their current pricing. (You can expect to get prices at or a little below those listed in the upper right corner of this web page.) To find the nearest scrap yards, I suggest using google maps, google places, or a similar local search engine.

Before you haul your payload off to the scrap yard, you will want to first sort it into its separate categories. Unless you sort it properly, the scrap yard will demote it all to the lowest priced category, insuring that you get paid less then it is worth. Scrap copper that is contaminated with steel, aluminum, or other less valuable metals will lower its value significantly. If you have copper pipes with soldered in joints, for example, these are called copper #2. But if you take your time cutting all of the soldered joints out, leaving just the copper pipes, you will have the higher paying copper #2.

These are 5 general types of copper that you will be getting your hands on when selling scrap metal, and all types of scrap copper can be broken down into further sub-categories:
  • Scrap Copper Solids
  • Scrap Copper Non-Solids (Turnings, dust, chips, ect)
  • Scrap Copper Wire
  • Scrap Copper Breakage (Scrap Motors, Scrap Transformers, Scrap Copper Windings)
  • Scrap Copper Alloy


Selling Scrap Copper Solids
Congratulations! You have gotten ahold of the good stuff!

Scrap copper solids are any type of unalloyed, or pure, copper scrap . Scrap copper solids are usually the most sought after scrap metal in our industry (Read as “Mass epidemic of Metal Theft rocks scrap metal industry.”) If you stole your scrap copper, go to Hell. Otherwise, place it into one of these three categories:
  • Scrap Copper #1 (Copper number one): Defined as clean copper clippings, punchings, busbars, commutator segments, tubing and wire not less than 1/16 of an inch thick. (Includes any type of solid copper, including mill grade copper, clean copper welding tips, etc)
  • Scrap Copper #2 (Copper number two): Defined as unalloyed copper solids, at least 96% copper,  and free of excessively leaded, tinned, soldered copper scrap; brasses and bronzes; excessive oil content, iron and non-metallics; copper tubing with other than copper connections or with sediment; copper wire from burning, containing insulation; hair wire; or burnt wire which is brittle.
  • Scrap Copper #3 (Light Copper):  Light copper solids are any type of copper sheeting that is less then 1/16 of an inch thick. This scrap copper is worth significantly less then copper 1 or copper 2.


Selling Scrap Copper Non-Solids
This basically covers all things like dust, chips, turning, ect. I don’t feel like I need to really get into this too much, mainly because most yards have their own prices and procedures for selling those.

Scrap Copper dust, chips, and turnings, ect are worth only as much as your scrap yard is willing to pay for them, and unfortunately, that is usually not that much in my experience. (Around 25% of spot price.)

If you end up having more than about 10 pounds of these, I would suggest trying to melt them down into your own copper nugget to make more money. I have used propane to melt turnings down in the past. Find a method that works for you, and stick with it… If you don’t think it is worth doing: Dont do it! (I decided it wasn’t worth the propane!)


Selling Scrap Copper Wire
Every yard is different when it comes to insulated scrap copper wire. You may find that it is worth stripping your wire if you cant sell it for a good price, or maybe you will find that you never should strip wire…

Scrap Copper wire can be sorted into 5 different grades:

  • 85% Wire: Thin case with a diameter comparible to a pencil’s. If you have this type of wire, just strip it yourself and get full copper price!
  • 70% Wire: Romex/machine wire without any attachments. Found inside of any type of electronics or appliances
  • 50% Wire: Extension cords and appliance cords
  • 35% Wire: Thinly gauged wire with a considerable degree of attachments. “Communications wire” For example, VGA cables, telephone wires, ect.
  • 10% Wire: Christmas lights

Unfortunately, most yards do not segregate scrap wire into so many types. This will usually result in just 2 types of categories for you scrap copper wire:
  • High Grade Coppe Wire: Any copper wire with a single layer of insulation.
  • Low Grade Copper Wire: Any copper wire with a double layer of insulation.

Again, THESE ARE JUST GENERAL GUIDELINES! Every scrap yard is different. Every scrap yard will purchase scrap copper wire with standards which have been agreed upon between them and a refiner.

Selling Scrap Copper Breakage

Scrap “copper breakage” is another way of saying anything with copper winding. (See How To Scrap Copper Transformers )

If you have scrap electric motors, scrap starters, scrap alternators, scrap transformers, scrap inductors, scrap ballasts, or scrap power supplies you could be getting payed over 3.5x what you are getting for shred steel.

As a general rule, if I have any type of scrap copper breakage that weighs more then 20 pounds, I will break it apart into scrap copper and scrap steel. Depending on what your yard buys, you may not even have a choice, and to get a decent price, you must disassemble!

To pull out scrap copper winding, I cut through the winding that stick out of one end with a sawzall. Then I use a 5 point hammer and punch to hit the copper windings out of their slots. If They slide out easily, I will cut through one end of the copper winding, and then pry the winding out on the other side using a pry-bar/ crowbar. This is also one of the techniques you will need to perfect depending on your situation.

It is different for Scrap Transformers.


Selling Scrap Copper Alloy 

The world of metallurgy revolves around the broad range of alloys that can be created from any type of metal, but you are most likely familiar to the more common scrap copper alloys: Brass and Bronze. These are effectively the same thing, as the definitions have become blended in modern culture. This has lead many scrap yards to just call this price “Copper alloy” as opposed to scrap brass or scrap bronze.  (Technically brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, and bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, or other elements.)

In the beginning of 2011, scrap copper alloy is worth about $1.75 per pound, and is increasing with the price of bullish copper.

But other then scrap bronze and scrap brass, scrap alloys also come in the shape of Cupronickel, Inconel, and Monel. These specialty alloys are worth much more, and you need to find a yard that buys them for their higher scrap values.

One unusually Scrap copper alloy source is in Scrap Silver Plate, and Scrap Immitation Silver. These are actually cupronickel, copper, or German silver.
Check out my other how to scrap metal guides, and Good Luck Scrapping!

{ 194 comments… read them below or add one }

rodinbarriga April 5, 2011 at 11:15 am

Nice very informative. I am new to this kind of business but I have plenty of sources where I can get scrap metals. Right now me and my group is working on a deal to purchase scrap metals. We plan to resell this after we have purchased it. I am relatively new to this kind of business but I have already experience selling scrap metals in the past 5 months. Right now I am involved in a partnership with a friend and my friend's friend who is into scrap metal buying. We brought him in because he is the expert when it comes to scrap. I also did invite my lawyer to handle all the legal stuff. Hopefully our deal will push through. Thanks for the information now I will know how to deal and sell it.

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ALEX FRANCIS July 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm

looking for buying scrap metal in bulk for export. I am interested in dealing with you. I am based in Toronto, Canada. Please email me your contact details.
Thanks

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Andy May 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm

"If you stole your scrap copper, go to hell. Otherwise…"

I love it!

Great guide.

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Anonymous June 16, 2011 at 6:39 am

HI VERY GOOD INFO IS THERE ANY CHANGE FROM BUYING AND IMPORTING STRIPPED COPPER WIRE FROM ABROAD RESELLING ON IN UK,,?

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Robin August 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Have you ever heard of anyone getting “copper toxicity” from unwinding copper? They were not wearing gloves.

Thank you.

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ScrapMetalJunkie August 24, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I have not personally, no. Unless somebody was exposed to the copper for very long amounts of time, and was ingesting it in small amounts, then I don’t think there should be any problems.

I handle copper all the time without gloves, but I always wash my hands after working.

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chris April 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Have you ever seen people with copper bracelets on for arthritis.

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Lisa Whitener August 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I bought a whole bunch of stuff at an auction recently and it is full of copper/brass home decor items and tea pots, etc. Are these likely actually copper/brass or some sort of worthless plated items?

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 2, 2011 at 7:04 pm

My initial guess is that they are, indeed, most likely solid copper, but you never know!

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Dave February 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Another way to tell is to just take a file to an edge, if it is solid copper or brass the edge after filing will remain the same consistency / color. If you scratch the surface and see metal color underneath then its plated.

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josh September 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I can not for the life of me find out what kind of metal is in VGA cables. Its silver in color not copper, but why would they use steel for such a wire used for video display?? And I can’t imagine it would be silver. So anyone have a clue?

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm

The VGA cable has an aluminum foil EM shield that reduces signal noise due to outside forces. Many VGA cables also have a ferrite choke that helps to do the same things.

The connector pins at the end of the VGA cables are usually gold plated.

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Mealane8 March 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I think it’s generally tin-plated copper wire. However, I’m not really that certain either. Could you check to make certain that there isn’t a redish-colored center to the wire strands? Actually, silver or tin plated copper wire seems to be rather common in the scrap I deal with.
God bless.

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T September 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I am 9 years old and scrapping. I like your website. I scrap the metals copper and brass and sometimes steel. Most of my brass comes from bullet casings we find while fishing. Thank you for the information.

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 6, 2011 at 4:09 am

Thank you for picking up those brass casings! After selling the brass, do you plan on spending the money or saving it?
Also, thank you very much for telling me how much you like my website! It makes writing these articles so much easier! :-D

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Hubert Yeomans September 9, 2011 at 4:05 am

How long does a copyright last on newspaper articles?. . If a service copies newspapers articles and then posts it in a database on the Internet, is there also a copyright on the Internet content?.

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 9, 2011 at 5:19 am

I don’t know buddy, you tell me. :D

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roz September 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hi there,

I have about 30 metres (13kg I am told) of copper telephone cable that was left in the garden of my house when the builders/phone men finished the properties roughly 4 years ago. It has been in my garden shed since and I am wondering how and where I can sell it for a good price, can you help?

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Well, it is most likely insulated copper wire, and a scrap yard will buy it for roughly USD$3 per kilo; But the problem is that it isn’t your wire, so I can’t condone your selling it.

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michael October 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm

In reality, that wire left behind in his yard by workmen legally becomes his property
once he purchased that house.

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Ahhh, yes. I see now. Before my original response I must have misunderstood where it had come from. I thought it was left over from a repair that the phone company came out to do.

In the United States, that would have been a legal grey area. Just like your water meter – or your gas meter, etc – the phone company owns all of their electric lines and power meters, even though they are on your property. This includes any type of cable that is accidentally left over from repair work.

If it were me, I would have no problem taking into the scrap yard, though.

The original comment, however, is coming from the UK, where property rights are slightly different. That’s why my answer ended up being, “I can’t condone your selling it.”

Good catch!

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joe January 10, 2013 at 1:18 am

interestingly, sometimes they just don’t care enough. As an example, when the cable company came out to wire the house about 10 years ago, they left a big spool of coax cable here (not full of course) and my father called them to let them know. they told him to keep it. still have it…

MANDY September 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I WANT TO SELL SHORTMETER CABLES IF WE”VE MADE AN AGGREMENT WTH THE SUPPLIER
DO I NEED A PERMIT?

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I am not a lawyer, but my guess is no.

Also, please use your inside voice when typing. :D

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scotcho September 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I am a plumber, and it had been my experience that, when working with copper it is a good idea to wear gloves, it can be razor sharp, and with extended exposure it WILL stain your hands green (comet and a real good scrub usually gets most of it off) and it will cause you’re hands to get very sore. Also a good way to remove solder from copper pipe is heat it up with a torch then wipe the solder with a wet rag to get the bulk of it off, cool it then sand with a good emery cloth. Clean as a whistle and you just turned that #2 into #1!!

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Very true! And the scrap yards will buy the lead solder for ~ 35¢ per lbs.

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phillip March 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm

also another good way to clean old copper pipe is with tabasco sauce. It wont take off the solder but it makes the pipe nice and shinny.

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Pete September 29, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Firstly, I really like your website. It is very informative without any b.s.

Secondly, I do have a question for you about copper wire scrapping, as my knowledge is mostly with ferrous metal scrapping. I have access to a quantity of 16 ga. and 18 ga. stranded wire which is pretty common stuff, somewhat similar to stranded extension cord. It is the left over pieces 1 – 2 feet long after home power generator transfer switches have been connected to the residential power panel. It is not unlike automotive stranded wiring. I have a manual wire stripper for removing the insulation from these “shorts” and it works really well. My question is this. When you strip this stranded wire it is not twisted very tight and can come apart into its individual strands pretty easily. So, should I be giving it a twist to tighten it up and make it more solid before I take it to the scrap dealer? It would not be too difficult to put one end in my vise and chuck the other end in my cordless drill and then give it a quick, slow shot on the trigger. This would certainly make it more solid without much extra work and maybe increase its quality and value. Any thoughts?

Thank you so much.

Pete

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Its great that you are looking for some way to make more money from your scrap metal! (I call it “putting my scrapper goggles on”)

Unfortunately, most scrap yards don’t care about how tightly wound your stranded wire is, as they usually just classify it as #2 copper regardless.

Every scrap yard has different policies, however, and your scrap yard could very well look at a tightly wound bunch of copper scrap as more valuable then the individual paper thin hairs.

I always put a few twists in my stripped copper anyways, as it makes it easier to handle.

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Anna October 10, 2011 at 7:07 am

Hello~

I have never sold scrap metal before but came across some copper items I was considering selling. I was reviewing your ‘Scrap Prices’ graph to gauge if the amount I have is worth a visit to my local scrap yard.
Unfortunately, I’m unable to tell by the graph what unit of measure I should be using. For example, if I’m reading it correctly, ‘Copper #1′ is worth ~$3.19, but I can’t tell if that is $3.19 an ounce or a pound?

Sorry to be so ignorant on the matter, but could you provide the unit of measure the ~$3.19 represents? I would be so grateful!

Thank you for your time!

~Anna

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Thanks for the question Anna! The non-ferrous scrap prices are in dollars per pound. The ferrous prices are in dollars per ton. The precious metal prices are in dollars per ounce.

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Brian" c October 18, 2011 at 4:12 am

I have some 4″ copper pipes and copper tubing with “wings” all used in a defunct passive solar system. It is discolored and bent. Does the discoloration classify it as #2? What is its worth per pound?

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Yes, this sonds like it is copper #2, but only if the ‘wings” are also made of copper. If not, they would dock the price substantially, so you should pull them off. It’s value is roughly USD$2.25 per pound (if it is, indeed, copper #2)

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Mark October 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Hi, just have to say your an inspiation! I showed my son (10 ) your artical after telling him there is money in scrap – Loved the 9 year olds comment – now he is busily striping down old tvs – that we pick up from the reycle centre for nothing when i drop off my waste for recycling, What a gold mine. There are hundreds there in just waiting to be stripped. Even managed to blag a few car batteries from them. All to go to the local scrappy when i am driving passed it on the way home from work. he has made £564 so far ( which he changes into Pennies so he can spend all day counting out his money ). I also managed to sell Copper coins to the scrappy for more than there face value. Pre 1992 as these are 97% copper. so check your change as they are still out there.

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gene nickerson October 25, 2011 at 1:04 am

When I changed over from oil to gas they just left the copper tubing in place. I took it down because it did not look good. I have 12 lbs. of copper tubing to sell. Can you estimate what it is worth? Thank you for any data you may provide.

Best Gene

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 25, 2011 at 4:35 am

This scrap copper would be worth between $25-$30 at your local scrap yard. Thanks for the comment, and best of luck!

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harold eustice November 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Is 3 conductor 4/0 worth stripping? Its the armored cable type

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ScrapMetalJunkie November 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm

If you have a strippibg machine I would say definitly. If not, I would try to cut a deal with your scrap yard. If it is aluminum armored they will be much mor receptive to negotiation

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harold November 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Thanks for the tip! It is aluminum armored. Most scrap yards around here act as though they’re doing you a favor by buying your scrap. How is it where you are?

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Rachelle Alexander November 20, 2011 at 8:21 am

What about copper tea kettles or decorative wall hangings made from copper?

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 13, 2011 at 7:33 am

They can be made of copper, brass, or steel.

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BeachWalker January 9, 2012 at 12:10 am

Hi there.. great great article! Thank you!
This evening I was cleaning out my soon to be ex’s junk in the garage.. none of which he has any interest in. I found these heavy and I mean solid heavy flat pieces of metal, maybe steel?..About 12″x 4″.. have no idea what he used them for but my God.. I had a hard time getting a grip on them! I am guessing there is three or four of them. Is it worth while taking to a scrap metal place or donating them to someone who picks up …. Also .. there was a lot of copper joints in little plastic bags.. I am thinking for plumbing? Brand new.. shiny… should I take them in also? Also..are boxes of nails worth anything?
Thanks!
Lindsay

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 9, 2012 at 2:14 am

The copper pieces are the most valuable. The more of these, the better. They are worth $2.50 per pound. The steel plates and nails are worth 11¢ per pound. It may or may not be worth your time, depending on how heavy everything is, and how tedious the job will be for you. If you put an ad up on craigslist’s free section for scrap metal, somebody will come pick up up for free.

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charles March 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

these copper fittings still in bag may be worth more to a plumber or hvac person some fittings may be worth over $1.0- each

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jeremy January 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

If you can steer me in the right direction please.
I have over 20 sets of Jumper Cables and have removed all Insulation. Is this type #2 copper? and is this type a “clean” copper or just run of the mill. My fear is getting ripped off and there are allot of people that try it. Just want to know where i stand.

Thanks
Jeremy, Ont, Canada

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 12, 2012 at 1:03 am

This is #2 copper! It is a type of clean copper.

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jeremy January 12, 2012 at 12:49 am

Oh!!!
A tip for removing that hard insulation on some wire?
Boil it in a large pot of water and use a new razor blade.
30 FT wire took less than a hour. Saves our planet from the toxic after burn.
Hope that helps anyone.
Jeremy.

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Todd January 12, 2012 at 4:07 am

Great article. Stumbled across it during a Google search.
What category would former bullet jackets fall into? These aren’t the brass casings that hold the podwer, but the copper jackets from around the lead projectile. When the lead is smelted out (for casting new bullets), what classification does the copper fall into, especially with some small amounts of lead scattered inside the empty jackets?

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 12, 2012 at 11:55 pm

It depends on how much lead is in the copper alloy. If it is more then 7% lead, then it may be considered some type of “Red Brass”, otherwise, it should be copper #2.

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Todd January 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Ok, thanks. It looks like it’ll be #2 copper. The lead cores are melted out of the copper hulls, leaving just copper and couple drops of stray lead.

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the dude January 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

is THHN type wire considered the same as stranded lamp cord wire. i have some that i am thinking about stripping but not sure if it will be worth the effort. thanks and love the info.

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Yes, THHN is better to strip then lamp cord wire. YOu will make more scrap copper per pound/per foot of wire.

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the dude January 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

are ballasts from florecent/ high pressure sodium/metal halide fixtures worth anything, if not is there a certin way they should be disposed of?

thanks, Great Site.

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Yes, they are either worth general scrap price, or some places buy them as transformers/motors/copper breakage.

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kelly January 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I am a new demo contractor. I get a lot (typically over 1000 lbs) of communication cabling (category 5, Category 6, and often ARMM armored cable), and am wondering what most scrap yards classify this cable as. I;ve found a way to remove the jacket and armor of the ARMM to get a better price, but have yet to discover an easy way to remove the jacketed category 5 & 6 cable. Is ti worth it to get these down to just insulated copper conductors without the jacket, and if so, can you recommend a stripping method?

Thanks for the terrific website. Very impressed you’re willing to answer so many questions.

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 18, 2012 at 12:15 am

Hello Kelly!

The answer to your question depends entirely on how much cable you are selling.
Any scrap yard in my area would be happy to pay “extra” for having such a large amount of wire delivered consistently. That means, if you have 1000lbs a month (or more) they will be much more willing to pay you up to 10% more for your wire, and that would be an easy way to take advantage of your scrap volume without wasting time stripping cable.

Stripping armored is tough, especially if you don’t have the right tools for the job. My guess is that you will want to avoid stripping wire, as it is time consuming, and therefore costly. If you decide to strip your scrap wire, you should first check to make sure it is worth it; Strip 5 feet of wire, and measure how many minutes it takes you. Weigh the “good stuff” and the “bad stuff” separately.

Let’s say for example, it took me 2 minutes to strip 5 feet of copper wire, and I am left with 2 ounces of copper and 2 ounces of plastic. Before stripping my wire, the wire was worth 4/16 pounds * $1.20 per pound = 30¢. But after stripping, the wire was worth 2/16 pounds * $2.70 per pound = 34¢. That means for every 5 feet of wire I strip, I am making 4¢ extra. If I am making 4¢ extra per 2 minutes of stripping, then I am only making 1.20 per hour of stripping. In this scenario, I would most definitely advise NOT stripping the wire, because it is not worth your time. In your case, however, a scrap yard may end up paying you better for only stripping the armor off your scrap wire; and in that case it would be worth your time.

Best of Luck!

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Bobby Lee January 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I’m an apprentice plummer and I work in construction. My boss gives me all the scrap copper. It ranges from 1/2 inch to 4 inch copper. Some of it are just cut off #1′s and some are soldered #2′s. I didn’t separated them but I went to a scrap yard and the guy gave me $2.25 per pound for it. Now, is this a fair price or did I get ripped off. Do you think it’s worth going back to get my copper back so I can go elsewhere? I know I should have done my research before I went to the scrap yard. That was my mistake. I just don’t like being lie to or ripped off. Thanks in advance.

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Let me start off by reminding you how lucky you are to get all the scrap copper. That is not a small chunk of change for a business man to give away to an employee. So be happy that you got the scrap copper in the first place!

The price you were paid may or may not have been fair. #2 copper, as of today, depending on your location, is worth about $2.50 per pound. #1 is about 20¢ more. So, you made about 10% less then you should have. Which, in all honesty, is not as bad a it sounds. Basically, if you sold them 50 pounds of copper, they paid you 112 dollars or so, but they kept an extra 15 dollars for themselves.

But keep on mind, prices depend heavily on location and local demand. You may have been paid fair, it all depend on the competition in your area.

Do not go to the scrap yard and demand anything from them. The copper is now there’s. You have sold it to them. It is theres by law. The only person you can blame in this situation is yourself, but even still, you really didn’t lose enough money to get that upset.

Best of luck!

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jim January 22, 2012 at 2:53 am

I been scraping out old electric motors and burning them. I was wondering why the copper wire turned a silver color instead of red color that copper normally does when its burned.

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 22, 2012 at 4:11 am

First off, thanks for the comment! If you get a chance, you should join our free forum!

The reason the copper turns a white color is a counter-intuitive one! It turns white because it’s actually aluminum!

Often times the windings in cheaper motors and transformers are made from aluminum to cut down costs. The aluminum wire is painted with copper colored lacquer for insulation.

You may notice this aluminum wire is much lighter than the other copper wire, and that is because copper is 3 times more dense than aluminum.

Its a good idea to scrape the motor windings before you harvest them. It’s not time efficient to harvest aluminum wire if you can just sell the motors for more “as is”. Best of luck!

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Weiker January 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm

My dad owns a building that is over 100 years old. He had to install a new heating/cooling unit and they replaced the pipes with PVC. Come to find out, the “pipes” were solid 2″ copper. It is a 4 story building . There are several 10′ & 12′, even some 25′ pieces lying around. Is there any worth to this?

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 30, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Yes, chances are you have over $100 of scrap copper! Congrats! Bring it to your local scrap yard and they will pay you on the spot!

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Sam February 5, 2012 at 8:46 am

Hey there! Great website!

So my question is, I am currently making a foundry to melt down scrap metals. I have a lot of scrap copper that im sure fits in every catagory of copper. Will melting it all together lower or raise the price of my copper? I plan on cleaning the copper up well before melting it. but im not sure if it would be better to melt each catagory seperately or if it would matter once they were melted.

Thanks!

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

IF you are only interested in selling the metal for scrap, I would suggest to not melt the copper at all. The energy and cost of melting the bars will not get covered by the gains of selling chunks of copper.

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Sam February 7, 2012 at 7:00 am

haha well, I actually planned on making the foundry for fun, as I’ve always found stuff like that interesting. The plan really is to enjoy the foundry work. I’m just wondering if I will be lowering the value once it is all melted together, or if i should sort it into each catagory before melting

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 8, 2012 at 2:50 am

Oh, Well it shouldn’t have much effect on the value… But you should ask your scrap yard before hand, because each one can have there own particular specifications for scrap. I can tell you that some scrap yards may want to test your scrap materials before buying them, to assure they are actually entirely scrap copper… (Some con men will try selling blocks of copper with giants chunks of lead or junk in the center.) Best of luck!

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Tina February 10, 2012 at 5:27 am

I love the informative break down that you provide, especially the pricing graph. My problem: I can’t tell what grade of copper I might have in the first place. I think it’s the good stuff (but doesn’t everyone?). I have an old fashioned copper boiler. The outside was polished about 15+ years ago to make it a decorative piece and there is no tarnish. However, aside from the original base being removed, it seems to have all its original fixtures at the top and inside. I think these might be brass. Is there a way to tell? If the boiler is a higher grade copper what might the fixtures set me back, if at all, since I don’t know a way of removing this metal? If it’s ultimately worth it to remove the fixtures, how would I do it?

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

It sounds like it would be worth removing the fixtures because those types of boilers are mostly copper #1. The challenge will be removing the contaminates to get to only scrap copper, but unless you have the right tools, etc, it may not be possible. The fixtures would set you back up to 50% of your total value, so it is worth removing them if you have the ability.

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Alex February 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

In your opinion, considering what VGA Cables are composed of, would it be at all worth it to scrap them?

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm

YES! VGA Cables are a very unique type of data cable in that they are insulated in all sorts of ways, and have all sorts of “garbage” other than copper, metal, etc.

But VGA cable plugs/ends are worth at least $1.50 per pound because they have gold plated pins. You cut just the connector end (plastic screw and all) and they are worth at least $1.50 per pound on eBay or to a small gold refiner.

The cable that is left is made of aluminum and copper (plus insulation) and it is considered low grade “data” cable at the scrap yard. As of the time of this comment, that would be worth over 50¢ per pound, depending on the scrap yard.

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Joshua February 17, 2012 at 12:17 am

Love the info and comments! Sounds like you really know what you’re doing here, and there are a lot of useless pages out there on the nets on the subject. I also get all the wire out of studios when we do demo before a new job. Most of the time I take all the cable to my local scrap metal yard and get between 51 to 75 cents, usually closer to the lower end. I feel like we used to get a lot more when I was taking it in for the whole company instead of just from my own jobs. But of course I didn’t pay as much attention back then cause I didn’t get to keep the money for myself. I mainly pull out 22-24 AWG audio, ethernet, RF, and video cables. All insulted of course. Being hundreds of pounds, I’ve never bothered with stripping it. Should I be looking for a different yard? They used to give us the ton price no matter how much we brought in per trip. Is there any cables I should be pulling out so they don’t downgrade my wire any further? Last time they classified it as Type: Insulated Copper, Grade: Mix 3 & 2.

Thanks for your help!

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Yes, you need to talk more with the scrap yard about how they specifically grade their scrap wire… Chances are there is a more efficient way of sorting the wire that will result in more money for your trips. If the wire is separated by its different grades, then the scrap yard has a better ability to estimate its value.

For example, RF wire is almost worthless as scrap wire. It is worth ~10¢/pound. So if your wire is mostly RF, then you may be doing pretty good. But if a scrap yard sees that you have a lot of junk wire mixed into the good wire, they are just going to pay you a lower price, and send you on your way. They will not bother explaining the different grades of wire, and how much they are worth, unless you call and ask them specific questions, or ask them when you come in.

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raymond February 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

i have some copper pipes and copper elbow fittings, copper strap, that were left over from repiping my home, are these worth recycling? & if so what would it fall under, copper#1, or #2?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 1, 2012 at 5:39 am

This copper is worth recycling! The tubes will fall under #2 if they contain solder o are painted, and #1 if not.

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savylace February 27, 2012 at 12:58 am

i have 2 3ft copper pipe. and a few smaller cut off pieces along with some 3way & elbow copper fittings most unused, tho one of the 3ft pipes has some writing on it like “mhmp”. would these be considered #2???
Ive never recycled any type of metal before just cans & plastic bottles. And around here the guys at the recycling yard arent always honest. please help

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 6, 2012 at 2:07 am

Your scrap copper would be considered either copper#1 or copper #2, depending on weather or not it has solder or paint on it. If the elbows and fittings are copper, and they have no solder, then they are considered copper #1.

Your scrap should be worth between ~$2.85 per pound and ~$3.00 per pound.

Best of Luck!

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Pat February 29, 2012 at 3:35 am

I have some old welding cables, I have stripped them it is fine wire wound into a 3/4″ bundle. What grade copper would this be? Are old jumper cables the same type ? I am also wondering about brass, what are most water valves and random plumbing fittings , yellow or red brass and how do you tell the difference?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 1, 2012 at 5:37 am

This sounds like it will most likely b Copper#2, but your scrap yard may price it as Copper#1 if the individual wires are thick enough (which means they are worth more). The difference between yellow brass and red brass is that red brass has much more copper in the alloy, making it a much redder color. The easiest way to tell the difference is to scratch it with a file and check the color.

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Jason March 8, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Love your articles. I have just recently gotten back into scrapping and was mostly a sell it all as shred kind of guy before. I have over 100 pounds of electric motors and was going to strip them down when I get the chance but I heard the scale operator tell a guy the other day that all his copper wire was copper coated aluminum. I was a little confused because he had small strand windings that all looked to small to be aluminum. Are there motors out there that are hairthin aluminum? I would hate to waste all of my time. I know that a lot of the bigger motors with larger diameter wires need to be scraped first to check for coatings, but never figured the thin wires would be.

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Yes Jason, motors will often times have aluminum wires, but very rarely is it hair thin. I suggest you scrape all of the motor windings with a file or a knife to check for aluminum before stripping them down.

If the motor doesn’t have copper wire, then I don’t recommend you strip it down.

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stormy March 19, 2012 at 11:38 am

all the transformers ive taken apart have had copper wire, but we came across this one buaried in my dads old stuff that the two of us could barily lift! It was filled with a “glass resin?” and was indistrucatable… we had a bomb fire and well it found its way in. The cassing melted into a ball, alum… the steel fell off, but the iner wire didnt melt and is aluminum colored. And there were small black “beads” inside. Any info on what i really have? We just got into scrapping and have found all the anjswers i need on your site, thank you so much for sharing your knowlage.

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david March 25, 2012 at 12:19 am

is it true that 1909 thru 1982 pennies are worth more……scrapped?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 25, 2012 at 12:46 am

Yes! This is true… Except melting copper pennies is illegal.

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david March 25, 2012 at 1:24 am

ah ha!!!! well we that is a piece of information..an individual needs to know!!! thank you

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Lori March 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

While removing our old cedar roof, the roofers took down sheets of copper that were in the “valleys” between different pitches of the roof. The sheets are about 12-14″ wide and 30-60″ long. And we have a lot of them. There are also several pieces that are about 3″x8″. It is heavy-duty enough metal that it is hard to bend the smaller pieces by hand. Except for about 3″ that was exposed to the elements, it’s all pretty shiny & new-looking. No change of color when the edge is filed, so I’m guessing it’s not plate. Any ideas about its’ worth? or the best way to not get ripped off?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm

This is considered copper #3, and is worth less than copper #2. It should be worth ~$2.50 .

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savylace March 30, 2012 at 2:10 am

i have a crack alum. radiatior from my car, i believe it to be all alum. except for the brass fitting on one side. would this be worth recycling & if so do i keep it seprate from my #2copper stuff ?

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Luis March 31, 2012 at 2:53 am

Hello I found your article very interesting.
1.I just recently started scrapping copper and I’m seeing really red copper and I called the recycling place and they told me it could be brass?
2. All the copper I find is from tv’s vacuums computer monitors treadmills and I was wondering if I’m making a mistake by mixing all of that copper together because I can’t tell the difference between #1and#2 copper?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hi Luis,

1) If it is copper wire, then it will always be copper, not brass. Red brass is a type of casting alloy used to make plumbing fixtures among other things. It is a very dark color, unlike standard yellow brass. What you have most likely is some type of red-varnished copper wire; the varnish acts as an electrical insulator.
2)The difference between number 1 and number two copper is simple: Number 1 copper is easier to smelt into regular copper than copper #2. Things like painted copper pipe, soldered copper joints, varnished copper wire, and thin gauge wire, are all considered copper #2. The difference in price coule be anywhere from 10¢ to 35¢ per pound, depending on the scrap yard. You should talk dirctly to the scrap yard for further details, because every scrap yard has specific ways of organizing their scrap.

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Chad April 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm

This has been by far the most helpful website I have come across in learning Copper. Thank you very much for your time and dedication to this site. You’re a Saint.

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Steve April 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Thanks for all the useful information. I’ve just got a quick question.

I’ve got a lot of stranded wire to take in, so since the strands are less than 1/16″ thick it would be #2 copper?
Why are smaller gauges considered a lower grade if it’s all clean copper?

Thanks again.

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm

It is a lower grade of copper because it burns up in the furnaces when it gets melted down. plus, it usually has some type of lacquer or coating on the outside.

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Marco April 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Hello. I’m a scrapper since 8-9 years now. I basically recover everything. And also i pull out copper windings out of transformers, motors and so on. Only 1-2% of the stuff goes into a gasifier to crack down the resins such rotors dipped with epoxy resin, which in a gasifier cracks down into gasses, while burning it rather than gasify would require 650°C and would produce dioxin. I would like to ask you a question. I would like to start a recycling business in the UK, such, scrapping fridge compressors and/or granulating copper wires. My question is, what’s the price paid for copper #2 that’s into fridge compressors? The price per ton of fridge compressor would be from 200£ to 300£. I would like to know if i could make any profit.

Thanks alot.

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm

It all depends on what size the compressors are, and how strong the motor inside is. You may be able to double the value of the scrap by tearing it apart into copper and steel. Best of Luck.

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john April 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I’ve got some old radiators ,pretty heavy probably about 200kg, what are they classed as, mixed? is it the same class as when you scrap a car? the rad’s are painted so im guessing they are worth less.
im in UK by the way!.

thanks.

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Radiators are categorized depending on the material they are made of. Aluminum radiators are worth less than copper or brass radiators. The aluminum ones are roughly £0.55 per kilo, and the copper ones are worth at least £2 per kilo. Best of luck!

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john April 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm

how can i tell what type of metal they are, would they be either one or the other? or could they be steel? i know that a magnet sticks to them, so can’t be alloy right?

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm

If a magnet sticks to it, then it is made of steel. The steel is not worth nearly as much as the aluminum or copper ones.

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John April 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Hello I striped a bunch of wire an bended it over then rolled it up with another piece of wire. Will they give me less because I did this? Got about a 100 Lbs of it.
Thanks

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 19, 2012 at 11:47 pm

No you wil not be penalized for this.

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samantha April 24, 2012 at 11:44 pm

i have a used alternator i want to get rid of if i take it to a salvage yard about what am i looking at getting

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Less than “core price” or rebuild value. My guess is that scrapping would bring 25¢ per pound.

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm

It’s worth 25¢-40¢ per pound.

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Brian C. May 6, 2012 at 2:20 am

Question for ya scrap, I have quite a good bit of scrap I want to sell, My question is, have you found that scrap prices are better at a particular time of the year for instance have you found a higher demand for say aluminum or copper in the summer, first part of the year, last of the year etc… Thanks for your help!

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wesley warren May 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

If coppper sales for $3.66 on market how close to that should I get at scrap dealer. I know they got to make money too.

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ScrapMetalJunkie May 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm

expect close to 85% of spot price, or roughly 3.05 per lbs.

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mark vincent May 13, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Hi , I have a few q’s…… a friend goes around and pulls the copper out of the back of tvs. She has done this quite a bit. I was reading and hearing via youtube that the back of a tv is dangerous due to the tube imploding which can be like a bomb gong off…. and then the radiation and then the shock off of cable still holding a charge… Is any of this need for concern ? Another q…. saw a guy on youtube ripping open a generator and pulling quite bit of copper out of it. Another was pulling copper out of transformers. I have gone around and taken advice from a few that I’ve bumped into along the way. The friend I mentioned told me she took an aluminum road sign into the scrapper because she feels the public works are irresponsible and she is ok with profitting from their inefficient management of the roads. I could not do that as it is public property, I also passed up some valuable stuff a few days ago because although it was left out in the open, I still felt that it was not fair to take it, as possibly the owner was hoping people

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mark vincent May 14, 2012 at 12:00 am

Hi, I do not know if first transmission was successful…. i will proceed as tho u got it. I read a person posted that they were thinking of buying compressors and breaking them down, you said they might double their money after labour to dismantle and then deliver them appropriately. Anyhow, I am interested in getting a hold of a bulk lot of broken motors or transformers or compressors or tvs ( first entry inquired as to the safety of this ) or anything else which may have a fair bit of copper in it. Can you give me some advice as to how I can buy a lot of these types of broken down equip in one shot ? Also, which ones are the best to go after, from ur site I learned about aluminum that looks like copper, scraping will disclose the truth. Anything u could do to lead me in the right direction would be great

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amanda May 23, 2012 at 12:14 am

I’m very interested.what do I need to get my license ??Is there any requirements?Do I need any endorsements?I want to recycle copper I already hve a place of business that wants me to pick up there copper.I also used to managed a distribution center that sold catalytic converters to shops..i can buy there cats to recycle.Would that be ok?Or would I need a separate permit??

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Amy May 29, 2012 at 1:50 am

My husband is a plummer and he has a lot of scrap copper laying around. Are there any problems selling a lot of copper? Are there limits in how much you can sell at one time? I just heard so much about theft and I was wondering if they are monitoring it at all.

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The Wolf 37 May 29, 2012 at 2:59 am

Hello,

First off I love the website great info, very informative and resourceful, With that being said I am a recreational scraper small things like computers, radio, Cellphones stuff like that I take them a part and clean them up , but i have a line on getting rejected copper fittings such as elbows, tee’s, etc… They’re all clean never been soldered just defective. Would they be considered #1 copper and any clue on ballpark per Lb in located in Canada

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The Wolf 37 June 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm

hello?

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Ksweat May 30, 2012 at 12:02 am

Hey, how’s it going?

I do a lot of demos and and get a lot of different kinds of wire, mainly agw 12( but a lot of others as well). I’ve stripped about 70 lbs of the 12g so far but I was wondering if it is worth my time o strip the other 150lbs? What’s the best size wire to sell to the scrap yard stripped?
Thanks in advance :)

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Ksweat May 30, 2012 at 12:07 am

Also I used a drill to wind up most of the 12g into a thicker wire, was this a good idea or should I stop doing it? What is the best way to bring stripped wire to the scrap yard? Rolled up as it came, ball of wore, as I did it? Any feedback would be much appreciated. :) thanks again

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LAUREN June 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Hi, i have a couple questions. I have some coils of 3/4 inch copper tubing that have been in the basement for a long time and they are slightly discolored and have some green spots on them. Will i get more money if i clean them up with and emery cloth? I also crap computers and tvs and when i strip some of the wires they look silver in color but when i scratch at it with a razor blade it looks like there is copper underneath. Is the silver looking metal some kind of plating? And do you know if it would be worth the trouble of stripping?

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Frank Parenteau June 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I have a kitchen with copper cabinets from the 1950′s. I don’t know if they are “solid” copper. Would you have any idea? I may be remodeling the kitchen in a month or so and was wondering what to do with these old copper cabinets. Thanks for your site.

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ScrapMetalJunkie June 20, 2012 at 12:59 am

I can’t say weather or not they are solid copper without looking at them in person. (Some pictures would be helpful) Chances are, if they are in any type of working order (doors still attached) then they are worth more as antique copper cabinets than as scrap metal. The easiest/safest way to tell if they are copper is to look for a green patina. There is no really good way to tell if they are copper without damaging them, so I suggest against any type of filing/scratching/chemicals to identify the copper.

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The Wolf 37 June 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Thanks for the reply been waiting a month and nothing

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Shannon June 26, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I have 2 boxes of two strands of copper wire coated in yellow as one in big rolls that were left behind a few years back by a delinquent renter of mine that I keep toting around because I was told it is high grade and expensive. The box reads Austin Powder Company “used in 1833 and ever since” out of Cleveland, Ohio. On top of box it reads 5lb Duplex, weight 45 lbs. I would like to sell this if I can. Do you know who would be interested?

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Angie June 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I have a roll of copper or brass mesh (like screen). Is this recyclable and how much would it be worth? The roll is extremely heavy.

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ScrapMetalJunkie July 3, 2012 at 12:24 am

I cannot give you an accurate quote because I don’t have pictures, and because every scrap yard has different pricing.

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Dzyactor July 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

On small gauge wire, is it worth my while to strip it or should I sell it as is; and if i should, what can I expect for a price? I am scrapping out a bunch of old 90′s computer towers that have all ready had parts scabbed and am wondering if it’s worth my while to cut out the wiring from the power supplies.

I do love your site though! You’ve bumped me from $5 per tower to more than $10! Also, how do you get CPU’s off of mother boards that have no pins – can I heat up the the board and pull it off?

Thanks for the site, it’s great!!

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ScrapMetalJunkie July 3, 2012 at 12:22 am

Thanks, Dzyactor.

Stripping copper wire is only worth doing if you do it in your free time. The amount of money you make from stripping will really depend on the size of the wire, and how much you value your time. unless your wire is close to 1/8inch thick or bigger, I recommend selling it “as is”, especially if your scrap yard has strong copper wire prices.

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Jerry Rust July 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm

If you have copper-clad cabinets you want to sell them intact. Contact local cabinet makers; you may get a new kitchen for free! Otherwise, try eBay, but don’t try and sell them for the copper, you won’t get nearly what their worth.

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Angela July 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Hi– I am stripping speaker wire for the copper. The wire has two parts, one is a insulated copper wire, and the second is an insulated silver-colored wire. How do I find out if the silver-colored wire is actually a valuable silver or aluminum?
Thanks!

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Eric October 7, 2012 at 5:58 am

I wish someone had an answer to your question. I’d like to know also.

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 8, 2012 at 1:41 am

The silver colored wire found in speakers is considered copper #2 at most scrap yards. The wire is actually not aluminum or silver; it is a special type of wire found in electronics that has been pre-tinned to aid in the soldering process.

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Chuck Elledge July 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

I feel like I’m creating competition for myself but oh well – with copper there is a big market for crafts people out there and eBay and etsy are two ways to reach it. Sell your sheet copper scrap, copper screen, and spools of copper wire, also aluminum – same things, they use for punched copper and making dollhouses, etc. Make up packs of 2 or 3 thin copper panels and sell them for 3X scrap price. Or be generous and sell 50% above scrap price and sell faster. Your choice. Vacuum Tubes and many old electronic transistors and parts sell well too if you make baggie packs of related parts (test them first). Scrap is almost always the cheapest price you get so always, always look at everything and every part you pull and think “is there someone or someway I can sell this to somebody rather than scrapping it?” A mechanic? A welder? An artist? An electronics hobbyist? A hobbyist or crafts person? The last on the list should be the scrap yard.

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Eric October 7, 2012 at 6:00 am

Thank you! Great ideas! Makes me sad about how much sheet and cast aluminum, yellow brass, and copper I’ve scrapped over the past two years.

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Zachary July 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I have several hundred pounds of old power cords off appliances and a couple questions. What grade would they be ? Is it worth the time to cut plugs off? The plugs worth anything? They’re a mix of 2&3 conductor dbl. insulated 16 ga. cords

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Cindy August 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Thanks for all this info. I love junking too! It’s like a treasure hunt.

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adriana August 9, 2012 at 3:49 am

Frankly, I thought the copper would be worth a lot more than this, at the rate that it is being stolen. My house was built in 1949 and recently, someone broke in and stole 200ft of copper pipes, rendering my house uninhabitable without running water, etc. If they are only getting a couple of bucks per pound, I can’t imagine they made that much money stealing all this from me. I am so angry, and they broke a door ($125 to replace) and the piping which will now be PVC is costing me $4,000 to replace, not to mention the huge inconvenience and violation experienced. I am so sad that those of us who are already struggling have to be victims of these crimes. There are laws now in my town forcing scrap yards to ask for proof of ownership of the copper, but these are just not enforced. :( Very sad indeed. Thanks for the article.

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Raul September 16, 2012 at 6:05 am

I have about 400 feet of video cable. It has multiple wires, encased in what I think is braded copper. Is it better to strip the outside casing and seperate the braid from the multiple wires or sell it as is? Thanks

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josh September 26, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Hello I work in the municipal electric field and occasionaly come across pieces of copper from different jobs sizes as small as #12 stranded to4/0 stranded leftover from doing overhead and underground services from unrolling to much off the spool that was estimated for the job andnoone else seems to be interested in it. How could I go ab out selling this the legit way

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ScrapMetalJunkie September 27, 2012 at 1:02 am

The first thing is to establish your ethical boundaries as an employee. Do you really consider the wire to be your property? If you have been given permission by your supervisor then start researching scrap prices in your area. Call all the scrap yards within driving distance and ask them to give you a price quote for various gauges of wire.

Best of luck.

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Eric October 7, 2012 at 5:55 am

SMJ, your site is great! I own a store inside a mall and began scrapping about two years ago when I would see all the metal that remodeling crews would just toss in the dumpster. In those two years, my metal yard has gotten over on me a few times due to my inexperience. But, I keep learning and scrap smarter the next time. On that note, I’ve got boxes full of 85% wire in my garage waiting to be stripped. Can you suggest an easy way to do that? My uncle said I should stick a utility knife in a vice-grip and then run the wire across it without cutting my finger-tips off. Ouch!

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 8, 2012 at 1:50 am

It depends entirely on how much your scrap yards pays for copper wire vs stripper copper wire. Check out my article on Scrap Metal Optimization.

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Jo October 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Is it okay to burn the coating from the wire over in a small fire? The wire doesn’t seem to be brittle if the fire is low and you burn small amounts at a time. Will the scrap yards buy burned copper? Thanks

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sara moore October 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

i have one nice piece of copper. it is a hand made funnel shaped hanging lamp. is it worth trekking out to you to scrap? hate to just pitch it

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Denver October 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

SITE IS BEST IV’E SEEN!! ive never scrapped b4 but i had to replace my electrial panel with a breaker box my fatherin-law(electrician) told me to scrap the leftover wire. Very Very heavy gauge industrial wire, has green coating ,then plastic paper-like coating, ( easy to remove both). but he told me it was #1 but it looks asthough the actual copper has a coating of metel or something. will this knock it down to #2 even though it extremly large gauge?

thank you again for the website

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Nell November 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Okay, well I didn’t read this until we got back from the scrap yard :(
Problem is, my dad had a bunch of copper wire sitting around for a few years so we decided to take it to the scrap yard. I looked up the prices and saw that insulated wire was much less that plain copper, so we threw it in the burn barrel. OOPS!!!! Needless to say they could not take our 16 lbs of wire. Is there anything we can do so that it is recyclable now, or should we just chuck it into the garbage?

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ScrapMetalJunkie November 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

You could try soaking it in acetone. Also soaking in a watered down solution of salt and vinegar. This would clean all of the soot off the copper and make it shiny again (in theory).

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Angela November 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I have two natural gas hot water heaters in an apartment builiding I own that are connected to the natural gas with copper pipe/tubing. I am replacing one hot water heater and have been told to replace the 50+ feet of copper pipe which is soldered to be up to code. When the line is replaced, should I request them to leave the soldered copper pipes and try to sell it myself as scrap metal? Or is it easier just to have them haul the soldered copper pipes away? Also with the pipes being soldered (I don’t think I would cut to remove) would this be considered low grade copper #2? Thank you for a response!

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ScrapMetalJunkie November 20, 2012 at 10:47 am

Yes it would be low grade copper #2. But the contractor most likely will want to take that scrap for himself, and may have factored the value into the quotation he gave you. But it is worth asking!

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Steve December 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm

My dad gets lots of power cord scrap (mainly from tv’s, vacuum cleaners, printers, etc). He sells them to the local scrap yard as coated #2. They accept them with the plug ends on them and we do not have to separate. As you probably know, some of these plugs can be rather heavy. We are considering stripping these before and selling as clean #2. Our question lies in what price to expect and how to sell the plug ends and the coated pvc. What do scrap yards buy these as? This will help me do the final analysis to see if it is more economical to sell as coated #2 or strip and sell separately.

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 13, 2012 at 3:14 am

They generally do not buy plug ends as anything more than mixed metal/shred metal. The analysis will need to be done by you to find the opportunity cost at your particular yard’s prices, but that type of wire is generally about 50% copper#2 by weight.

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Tom December 14, 2012 at 3:49 am

Great site, very informative. I have a few feet of 350MCM THHW wire that I stripped myself, the insulation came off very easily and it does not appear to have melted between the strands, what grade would you consider this (bare bright)? Also I stripped the bus bars out of 2 mcc units they appear aluminum/tinned but if you cut it cross section it is almost completely copper with a thin tissue paper like coat of the other substance, what is it and what grade would this be?

Lastly the horizontal bus bars from the mcc’s connected to the vertical bars are aluminum, any idea what category this would fall into?

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 14, 2012 at 10:48 am

The stripped 350MCM THHW should be considered bare bright by most scrap yards, but some may be picky about it. If I was you, I wouldn’t accept anything less than bare bright. The copper bus bars are either coated in silver or tin and this is to insure a solid electrical connection: if it is silver than it is copper #1 and if it is tin then copper #2.

The aluminum busbar would most likely be considered “clean extrusion” “MCL aluminum” or something similar of high value.

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brenda January 30, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I recently had a plumber come to replace a water heater. It is an older house about 90+ years. He offered to change my copper pipes for plastic ones and is charging me a few hundred dollars to do so. He said he will take the copper pipes “off my hands”. My neighbor thinks it sounds fishy, what do you think?

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Daniel February 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Brenda, honest plumbers don’t take your copper pipes and give you plastic. Plastic pipes are cheep. I don’t see a reason to do that unless the copper pipe is damaged then only the damaged section needs to be replaced. Copper pipes do not deteriorate with age no matter how old the house is. When copper oxidizes, it forms a thin layer of copper oxide which is non porus and actually protects the rest of the copper from further deterioration. In an old house you may have concern about the lead solder which was used to join the pipes together. If that is the case, the fittings can be replaces with new fittings and a tin/silver solder should be used. From what we learnt in this forum, scrap copper pipes can have a value currently up to $3.00 a pound.

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Barry February 1, 2013 at 10:32 pm

i want to say first off this is a great forum! I’m new to scrapping and I’ve learned a lot from all the questions/comments. I took my first load of scrap metal to the scrap yard today and I was shocked when I was told that the majority of my copper was “worthless”. The guy told me that since it was industrial grade copper he would need some documentation explaining where/how I got it. The thing is, I found the wires along with old pieces of pipe and fittings half buried behind my barn. ( I recently bought a new house) This find was really the only reason I began scrapping. It this policy typical of most scrap yards? If so, what can I do? I have over 116lbs!

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Daniel February 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I have just found your website today. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am converting the heating system in a house from radiator to hot air. There are about 10 cast iron radiators to be removed. some of them have victorian design and wiegh probably 200 – 400 lbs each. Is selling them by the pound as scrap the best way? If they have more value as used radiators for restoring old houses how can I locate an interested buyer?

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm

It would be best to sell as a radiator, not as scrap; The demand for old iron work is fairly high, but finding a buyer will be harder than finding a willing scrap buyer. You may want to try talking to an antiques dealer.

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edwin February 6, 2013 at 10:53 pm

what is the difference between :
Copper Honey,
Copper Bare Bright
Copper Millberry

thank you

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 17, 2013 at 5:23 am

“Honey” is a code name for Yellow Brass, “Bare Bright” is pure electrical wire thats over 1/8″ thick, and “Millberry” is pure electrical wire of any thickness.

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Lynn February 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Hi,

Thank you for your very informative web site. I have a copper gutter and wondered if it was worth selling. My house was built in 1928. The gutter has long since been removed.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you,

Lynn

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 17, 2013 at 5:18 am

The copper would be considered “Sheet Copper” which is the lowest grade of copper. If I were in your shoes, I would look for a buyer in the antique/restoration business who wants to use the gutter for a project and sell for a much as possible.

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Edwin February 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

If Copper Hobey is yellow brass, then these scraps must have a copper content of around 60% ?

Lately there are stranded copper wires from China with Aluminum strands in the middle. How are these classified ?

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Bobby February 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Could scrapping copper from light fixtures be a safe and successful business?

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scott March 6, 2013 at 1:29 am

i have tinned welding cable (50yrs old) w/insul. removed can you
estimate price per lb.?

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Isaac March 19, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Hello! Thank you for staying up to date with all these comments! I actually work for an electrical contractor who generally does not have time to scrap his wire. He lets me keep a percentage of the profits and if the scrap pile is small enough he just lets me have it. He likes the idea of collecting the scrap but when it comes to actually scrapping it he doesn’t want to be bothered by it. We are finishing up a job in which we are removing some old feeder wires and refeeding that electrical equipment from a different source. The old cable is a type of high voltage cable. It has a thin black plastic outer jacket, followed by a thin wrapped copper foil, then a large rubber coating that is @ 1/4 inch wide, and finally the wire itself which looks to maybe be 4/0 but i’m not sure. The wire is made up of 37 individual solid strands that are 1/8 in diameter. The overall diameter of the copper strands together is almost 3/4″. In order to scrap copper wire i use a burn barrel with a grate in it. I build a fire in the bottom and throw the wire on top of the grate. It works pretty well. Would you recommend this same process for this large of wire or do you think it would be better to strip it out? The multiple layers definitely take more time. Any input regarding the best way to process this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 8, 2013 at 8:57 am

I would cut a small chunk of it off, weigh it, and then strip it by hand; then measure the difference in price you get from selling the stripped copper vs. the unstripped wire. Then compare that to how much wire is left to strip. That should let you decide if it is worth stripping the wire or not. Also, I can’t recommend burning copper wire because it is pretty bad for the environment.

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Isaac March 19, 2013 at 10:08 pm

One more thing I forgot to mention was that the scrap yard that I usually go to told me that the size of the wire is what is important not its cleanliness. I spent a lot of time stripping out larger wire the last time I was there and they told me that as long as the strands were i believe 1/16 in in width it would get the better price whether it was burnt or not. This is why I much prefer burning to hand stripping.

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ScrapMetalJunkie April 8, 2013 at 8:53 am

That may be the case, but burning wire is illegal! There is a finder’s fee for those who report scrappers: Burning Wire

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Isaac April 11, 2013 at 2:40 am

Thank you for your input. I did not know that burning was illegal. In fact I think everyone that I talk to does it that way. As I mentioned in my previous post, the guys at the scrap yard actually recommended that I do that instead of spending the time to strip it.
I did cut a one foot chunk off and the total weight of the copper foil wrapping plus the stripped cable itself was @1.2 pounds. A little over a pound per foot isn’t too bad!
Now that I know that burning is illegal I could probably make more money by simply reporting everyone I know that does it… Of course I wouldn’t have any friends either :0) Thanks again and keep up the good work!

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Dennis May 21, 2013 at 3:59 am

I read every reply and found it entertaining and informative. I laughed with a few that had funny comments and cried/empathized with those that may have felt jilted in their transactions. But the best comment so far is Isaac’s ….”Now that I know that burning is illegal I could probably make more money by simply reporting everyone I know that does it… Of course I wouldn’t have any friends either :0) …. ”
Perfect ending for today!

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Alpha mike May 23, 2013 at 6:15 am

I love your line “if you stole your copper, go to he!!.. We live in oilfield country (Texas) and there is a huge amount of oilfield and construction theft of copper and aluminum because of the sudden increase in population out here. These jerks are dispicable! There was a ring of guys going around and stripping all of the wire out of new homes and schools under construction. Thankfully, they found these punks and put them behind metal bars! On another note, I have been a buyer and seller of Collectibles, Antiques and liquidated business goods for several years. I just bought out an appliance repair business (parts) and an auto parts business and cannot believe how much scrap there is in my storage units. I am now beginning the arduous process of learning how to better identify each type of metal. I’m starting to do this partly to honor my Dad who passed away suddenly last September. He was a route driver for 40 years and would pick up every piece of metal he saw no matter the size. He also always offered to take junk off of people’s hands if it would help them out. He had several bins in his shop that he separated these into and would cash them all in every year to take my mom on vacation. I was blessed with a strong education and have had high paying jobs since I graduated, but I really want to start scrapping as a way to help my kids when they need it. I’m so glad that my Dad passed on the value of working hard for my money and never to be afraid to get my hands dirty in the process.. Happy Scrapping!

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Sal May 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Hi,

I have a bunch of scrap copper that I smelted myself into 5 pound ingots…I believe these are about 95% pure copper. What will the scrap yard classify these as? I do it to maximise space instead of having stuff laying all over the place. Thanks.

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ScrapMetalJunkie June 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm

For them to buy the scrap copper, they would want to know that it was at least 96% copper (these are the ISRI standards that their refiners are expecting) So for them to buy your ingots they would want to analyze a few of them at random to make sure. If they are over 95% pure then they should buy them no problem!

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Jim June 22, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Hi SMJ,
Im a termite inspector, which means i get to crawl under lots of houses everyday. When I 1st started this job i noticed old spare pipes under some houses, at 1st I didn’t think anything of it, but then I kept seeing more and more of them, so i started letting the home owners know about it and ask if i could have them. Alot of people thank me for getting them out from under there and getting rid of them. Its usually just a piece or 2, but its adding up quite fast. I have about 115 LBS. now and am getting ready to turn in my 1st load of scrap copper pipes. Some of the pipes are covered in dirt. Should i wash the dirt off? One piece i found looks like an old drain, u know with the U shape in it that you see under your sink, the curves in it look like it could brass. Should i cut these out? Some of the pipes are from gas lines and have threaded fitting like things on them. Should i cut those off?
Thanks SMJ!

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Josh Cox June 28, 2013 at 6:38 am

I have only one question, I have took out all the copper out of this old Big Projector Tb and I have weighed the copper to 9 1/2 pounds of wires d
From the circuit boards, etc. Would this be worth saving for scrap??

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mike s July 14, 2013 at 3:59 am

I am looking for some copper tubing to use as trim for table and counter top edging, it doesn’t need to be new, qwas thinking a used look would add to it. was thinking 1.5″ by .5 to 1″ square. is that something I will be able to find?? and where would be a good place to look for it? Thanks for all your good info.

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Jonathan July 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Question, doe sit matter if I break my copper pipe down into small pieces ? I.e, chopping it up to fit into 50gallon drums? Or is whole lengths peered by the scrap yards?
Cheers.

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dan July 30, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Probably the most informative site I have come across thanks. I have a couple monitors and computers they are about 5+ years old, I’m considering harvesting the metals from them but not sure if it would be worth it simply because I have just 2 monitors and towers? Your thoughts?

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ashish Chauhan August 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

hi, I am from india, I want to know what is the approx price of copper per kg if it in form of wires.

please let me know in indian rupees.

Thx & regards,
Ashish Chauhan

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JC September 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Guys,

I want to buy scrap c0pper, is how do I find the seller at the lowest price at which junk yard buys?

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mauviel copper cookware October 14, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Hey there are using Wordpress for your blog platform?
I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and
create my own. Do you need any coding expertise to make
your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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digdug October 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Hey quick question. I do blacksmithing but am new to scrapping. Would it be worth the effort to melt crap copper and copper 2 back into copper ingots or would the profit (if any) not be worth the time.

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Michael Brey November 8, 2013 at 3:16 am

I would like to know why do we have to sell to scrap yards? Where do we find or sell to the person that buys it from the scrap yard. I have a chance to get about 10000 pounds for scrap copper/Brass and would like to find a place that will pay me more then a scrap yard. Thanks Mike

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 31, 2014 at 12:24 am

Scrap yards exist as a “filter” through which refineries can buy qualified lots of scrap metal. Without the scrap yards, the refineries wouldn’t “know” what exactly they were buying. The other main reason we can’t sell to refineries is that we sell lots of scrap metal that are “too small” to buy; Refineries only want very, very large scrap contracts that sometimes last last many months at a time.

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gideon December 28, 2013 at 4:24 am

Would it be profitable to buy computers,etc. from a thrift store to strip it for sell?

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Daniel Williams February 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm

I removed black pipes from a residential heating oil tank. The house was converted to gas heating. What can I expect to get for scrap black pipes in CT? Also, the oil tank is in excellent condition. Does it have a resale value as a used oil tank>
Daniel

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Michael Coffman March 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm

24K Gold, I need to see if there is a way to extract the 24k gold from my 1/24 scale diecast cars, I have a bunch of these and it recently occured to me as much area that is coated on these, there must be value in this gold, am I onto something here or not?

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John March 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I have a large amount cable used for cable tv. The inside wire looks like copper, but a magnet sticks to it…is it copper?

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm

That is copper clad steel. There is also an aluminum mesh surrounding the wire that acts as a shield. The cable’s non-ferrous metals are very hard to recover by conventional methods, which makes it’s scrap value very, very low.

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Jamie K April 2, 2014 at 7:35 am

Great information. You really know your stuff. I work at a wire company that has obsolete copper based cables that need to be scrapped. We are currently receiving around $1/ft because the cable is mixed with other materials. We use the cables for mining, auto industry, steel industry and more but have thousands of waste to recycle. My question is what is the best process to find a vendor that will take the small cuts or obsolete materials? I believe we can do better than the current $1/ft.

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Jamie K April 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

correction: $1.00/lb.

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Avery August 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

If copper is clean why are there different prices? Like tubing verses wire.
Are there different properties in copper? It just seems like fifty pounds of copper
Is fifty pounds of copper no matter size or shape.

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ScrapMetalJunkie August 5, 2014 at 10:15 am

Some types of copper are more pure than others. Brite copper wire is worth the most because of it’s absolute purity and ease to recycle.

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Geoff August 7, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Is there a market for C17200 beryllium copper?

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George August 17, 2014 at 10:34 am

I have a quantity of solid copper bus bars. they have been sitting around for years are are extremely dirty, some even black. Various lengths and thicknesses up to 3/4 inch. What is the best method to clean them to bright and shiny like they were when new? Thanks

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Daniel August 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

When they say clean copper I don’t think they mean bright and shiny. I thing they mean no paint, no solder and empty inside meaning not filled with dirt or other foreign material.

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George August 18, 2014 at 7:30 am

I just wanted to know how to clean very dirty solid copper. I have heard toilet bowl cleaner may work along with polishing or buffing. I would probably want to sell on Ebay instead to a scrap yard.

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Daniel August 18, 2014 at 7:48 am

Try a product called CLR (stands for calcium, lime, rust). it comes in liquid form and sold in small cans. Also, several products are available under different names such as Brasso, brass polish, metal polish, … I saw several products at Home Depot.

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