What is Tungsten Carbide?
|Carbide will often be coated in a titanium compound,
like those pictured above.
Tungsten carbide is one of the strongest material used by man. It is almost as hard as diamonds. I don’t think it is worth going into specifics, so lets just say… IT IS STRONG!
Scrap tungsten carbide, aka scrap carbide, is commonly found in mill tools, as carbide tools can last decades with just a few sharpenings.
Tungsten Carbide, is also very heavy! VERY HEAVY! It is twice as heavy as steel, almost as heavy as gold. It doesn’t take very much to yield a few pounds, so serious money can pile up quickly!
What is the difference between Carbide and Tungsten Carbide?
Let me clarify some of the confusion! There are actually 3 technical terms often thrown around by scrappers. In a scrap yard, they all basically mean the same thing: tungsten carbide impregnated metal.
- Tungsten Carbide: This is, in fact, *technically* NOT a metal. (…What!?) It is a ceramic compound of Tungsten (W) and Carbon (C), hence the chemical formula WC. Tungsten Carbide is actually very rarely used in plane ceramic form, if ever. Tungsten Carbide is also used in compounds of two parts tungsten, aka W2C. This however is actually tungsten semicarbide.
- Cemented Carbide: THIS is what most of us think of when we hear “carbide.” It is actually between 5% and 25% Cobalt by weight. To explain why, think of cemented carbide like Jell-O with a lot of fruit. The cobalt acts like the Jell-O, and the tungsten carbide is super-dense, ass-kicking fruit that makes the jello much denser, and much stronger. Obviously, the Jell-O with more fruit is stronger, and the cemented carbide with lots of WC is very strong.
- Carbide: This is a material scientist’s word for “a compound of carbon with something more electro-negative.” So, technically, its not specific enough, and could be referring to any carbide compound. That’s ok, because if your scrapping, we’ll all know that you actually mean cemented carbide.
|This small spark
How to Identify Carbide, aka The Spark Test:
A very simple way to identify carbide, is to spark test it. Carbide has a spark test which yields a VERY dark, red, short spark. This is different from HSS (high speed steel) which will often have a longer, whiter spark, plus a few forks.
Please remember, it is very dense. So if you have a similarly sized piece of steel, carbide should weigh about twice as much as the steel.
That’s fine and dandy, but where do I sell it?
Of course, everybody’s scrap yard will buy scrap carbide. It’s just a wonderful thing to get! It doesn’t take up much space at all, and can be sold in small quantities easily. My scrap yard will only pay me between about $5 per pound of carbide, but the truth is that YOU CAN SELL IT ON EBAY or to other larger, carbide-specific, scrap yards for $10 per pound!!!!
Remember, the value of things on eBay ultimately have some fees taken out, but if you are not getting paid at least $9 dollars a pound at your local yard, SELL IT ON EBAY! You will usually make out like a bandit.
Good Luck Scrapping!