How To Sell Scrap Lead

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Lead, like mercury, has become infamous as a toxic metal over the past 50 years. Before its destructive health effects were understood, it had been used from thousand of years prior, in everything from beer mugs to plumbing to roofing! But what can scrap metal recyclers do with this soft, lustrous metal?…Well, something that alchemists have been trying to do for a millennium; turn it into gold! (or maybe just cash…)

What is the Price of Scrap Lead

For a rough estimate of scrap lead pricing in your area, assume a value of about 30% of spot price. This is much lower than most scrap metal prices as a fraction of spot price, and this can be attributed to the complexities of dealing with a toxic, impure, heavy metal like lead.

The value of your scrap lead will depend entirely on current market value, geographical location, what type of lead alloy you are selling, and how much scrap lead you have to sell (bulk pricing).

To get the best price for your scrap lead, call ahead to your local scrap yards, or consider selling on eBay. (Check out, How To Get The Best Scrap Metal Prices.)

Where To Find Scrap Lead

Scrap lead can be found at a fairly limited number of sources. (If you are looking to buy scrap lead, I suggest posting a wanted ad for scrappers to sell to you in our Scrap Metal Recycling Forum.) In my experience, these are the most fruitful places to find salvageable lead scrap, but this list is not exhaustive:

  1. Lead Acid Batteries

    PowerCarBatteries 293x300 How To Sell Scrap Lead

    Power Cars™ and scooters are powered using small lead acid batteries found "under the hood"

    Lead acid batteries are 60% Lead alloy by weight, and 40% plastic and acid. The alloy is special because, besides lead, it contains trace amounts of copper, selenium, tin, antimony, and other elements that improve its electrochemical properties.

    Lead acid batteries are used in cars, trucks,scooters, forklifts, most large machinery, etc. The more  connections to these industries you have, the better your lead acid battery returns will be.

    The trick with dealing in automotive battery scrap will always be bulk; The problem with bulk is that is costs money, it requires connections, and sometimes the correct types of environmental certification. If you can weasel your way into dealing exclusively with battery scrap, you will be buying and selling auto batteries for a big chunk of change.

    Many auto battery manufacturers buy back their batteries by the pallet-full for a premium. If you have the ability to save your batteries, it could mean huge gains.

    In addition to car batteries, lead acid battery are found in a number of other places, from children’s toys, to electric scooters. Keep your eye out, and you will find lead acid batteries in all sorts of places!

  2. Lead Radiation Shields

    lead BRICK SHIELDING 300x182 How To Sell Scrap Lead

    These lead bricks will be used to isolate a radiation source from its environment

    Lead Radiation shields are used in any type of radiation releasing process… For example, when you get an X-Ray at the dentist, they first make you wear a lead apron.

    Lead radiation shields are most often used in university and hospital settings. The more connections you have to specialized contractors and maintenance at these facilities, the more often you will be handling lead scrap.

    Scrap lead can also be found in the form of containers for natural radio-nucleotides and other radiation sources. The amount of radiation left in this lead, however, changes their desirability for recycling.
  3. Lead Solder

    Screen shot 2012 03 05 at 6.35.22 AM 294x300 How To Sell Scrap Lead

    This is an example of lead solder that would have been used in electronics.

    Lead solder is generally worth much more than scrap value, so think before you sell!

    Modern lead solder is very rarely 100% lead; instead it is usually a majority of tin or antimony. Lead solder is more valuable than lead because it has these more expensive elements, which lowers the alloy’s melting point and increases its usefulness.

    If you have lead solder of any type, I suggest you save it for resale value instead of selling to a scrap yard.

     

  4. Weights and Ballasts

    Scrap Wheel Weights 269x300 How To Sell Scrap Lead

    These scrap lead wheel weights are becoming extinct, with steel, zinc and composite wheels weight are slowly taking their place.

    Despite the more recent environmental activism that has made lead weights more regulated to consumers, scrap lead weights are still second to none in terms of heavy weight in a small amount of space for a cheap price.

    Lead’s high density has made it a go to metal when trying to add weight; whether it’s to a boat, a fishing line , or a wheel, lead weights are still as useful as ever.

    Wheels weights are one common pace to find lead weights. Additionally, manufacturers of lead sinkers/weights are generally great places to sell your scrap lead, if you are not selling on eBay.

  5. Bullets and Shot

    By scrapping standards, bullets only have a bit of lead in them; On average:

    12-gauge shotgun shell – 28 grams of lead per shell (~16 shells to a pound of lead)
    45 automatic pistol match ammunition – 12.0 grams of lead per shell (~38 shells to a pound of lead)
    308 Winchester round – 9.7 grams of lead per shell (~47 shells to a pound of lead)
    30-30 Winchester round – 8.1 grams of lead per shell (~ 56 shells to a pound of lead)
    9 mm handgun bullet – 7.5 grams of lead per shell (~ 60 shells to a pound of lead
    22 caliber rifle bullet – 2.6 grams of lead per shell (~ 175 shells to a pound of lead)

    The good news is that lead bullets – and brass casings, and shells – are all worth more then scrap! People love to save money by buying scrap lead to make their own bullets, so keep this in mind when you are looking for a buyer for your lead!

  6. Artwork and handcrafts (Castings, Sculptures, Pewter, Stained Glass Came)

    There is a surprising amount of lead used for artistic purposes. Things like stained glass came, or some types of pewter, have significant amounts of lead in them. These types of lead items, if in usable condition, are always worth more than scrap value.

  7. Pre-WWII era roofing materials and Plumbing materials

    These types of plumbing and roofing materials are in many cases a bit dated, and in even more cases they are downright dangerous to consumer health. Lead pipes and lead roofing flashing were used in older homes from the early 1900′s, and are still being replaced today.

    In fact, any lead that was smelted prior to WWII is probably considered very high value Low Alpha Lead (read more below).

    (In consumer product – especially food grade applications –   lead is no longer used for health reasons.)

Lead acid batteries are the most common type of lead scrap you will find in every day recycling, followed by weights,ballasts, and bullets. The rest of your lead scrap will depend on where you live, who you are networking with, etc. (For example, in a University or Hospital setting, you will be much more likely to find lead radiation shields)

Where To Sell Scrap Lead

The trick with selling scrap lead is knowing who wants to buy it, and scrap yards generally do NOT pay the best prices. Used lead acid batteries, for example, can be sold in bulk to battery manufacturers. (Otherwise, some auto shops will pay you more than scrap price for “core price.”)

In addition, scrap lead is often wanted by those who cast bullets or fishing weights. You can sell to these merchants by posting ads on Craigslist, or in our fast growing Scrap Metal Junkie Forum.

Last but not least, you can always sell your scrap lead on eBay! (Read more on the sale of scrap metal on eBay.)

Safety When Handling Scrap Lead Recyclables

The health issues associated with lead aren’t a problem when the metal is properly handled; the problem is when it inadvertently gets into our bodies.

The worst problems associated with lead poisoning come about with chronic exposure; handling lead for many days at a time will cause many organs in your body to fail…

This is why it is always important to wear gloves when handling lead. When cutting lead, always wear a respirator to avoid inhaling the lead into your lungs.

Valuable Low-Alpha Lead Scrap

Low-alpha lead scrap is a special name given to lead scraps that were originally smelted prior to 1945. Recently, low alpha lead has been reported to be worth 50x-200x regular scrap lead prices. Low alpha lead is found in old roofing (lead roofing on churches), as old lead piping, old lead bullets, etc. The older the lead, the more valuable it is for low-alpha purposes, like making special solders and special components. If you are an interested buyer of Low alpha lead, please contact me by email or post in our Metal Recycling Forum.

Best of Luck, Scrappers !

 

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven Simms July 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I am a director of a cath lab. We currently have tons of good used lead aprons that I am looking to get rid of. Not sure if there is a market for it.

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Lamona August 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

How do I contact you? Where are you located?

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David C. October 9, 2012 at 11:52 pm

hi if you are wanting to get rid of lead aprons please tell me how much you want for them i am more so into smelting the lead down into bars of lead

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Dan J December 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hello, I am interested in the lead aprons, where are they located? thanks

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Steven Simms December 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm

You can give me a call at 703-558-6841. They are at the hospital that I am currently working at.

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Gabriel January 29, 2013 at 3:04 am

Hello. Are all wheel weights lead? Or are the newer ones something else? Also, just a fyi, old phones i’ve found that look to be around the 1980′s have a chunk of lead in them. Another way to find lead is to go by a used auto dealer that does’nt keep their lot tidy. I’ve found several lbs. that way. Seems to end up in the same spot, and is’nt always just lead wheel weights, but little bars of lead as well. And Ebay appears to be the only place one should sell it on, unless they have a relationship set up with somone who buys. Thanks again.

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 17, 2013 at 5:26 am

There are three types of lead wheel weight (see above picture). Every scrap yard buys lead but eBay works too. Also, I cant imagine why they’d put a chuck of lead in a mobil phone, but old cell phones are worth more as collectors items than scrap.

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Steve Taylor November 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Regarding Gabriel’s point on 1980′s phones with chunks of lead in them, I think it’s possible. Obviously one wouldn’t find lead weights in a cell or mobile phone… but on tearing apart four or five good old land-line telephones from the 80′s, I found what clearly appeared to be *ballast* weights in many of the base units. I think they were intended to just give the main unit some extra weight so it wouldn’t slide around too much on picking up or putting down the receiver.

Some phones had a steel stamping up to maybe an eighth-inch thick in the bottom, carefully shaped to fit in the contours of the plastic bottom. Another cheaper, later phone had simply a cast-iron or steel ingot screwed into the bottom. Older phones didn’t seem to have these because they were heavier to begin with. (It’s fascinating to uncover them and just admire their design and construction.) All that said, though, there seems to be very little value in scrapping these land-line telephones.

I enjoyed this article btw. I do have some half-full bags of lead shot, intended for reloading shotgun shells, and I think I’ll take them to ebay.

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Lena Bussman February 11, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I recently found round heavy lead engets in my dead grandpas basment I took them to the salvage yard and they never saw anything like them before. They look very old, are heavy and have some unusually markings on them. How and where do I find out what they are, how much they are worth and where to sell them? I’m am grateful for all help. Especially at this time my brother has cancer and I need to help with his bills. Thank u Rev Lena Bussman

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ScrapMetalJunkie February 17, 2013 at 5:15 am

Try posting pictures to this site: http://www.treasurenet.com

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Gabriel February 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Thanks. I have to sort out the wheel weights that are not lead, as i’ve just collected them all. Seems to be a good bit of metal around if one lives near a strip of auto re-sellers and mechanics as I do. Also, the lead in phones is’nt old mobil or cell phones but old land line phones, which are thrown out a lot now. The lead seems to be for weighting the phone down, either in the hand piece or the base. I suppose being behind plastic it was’nt considered a health hazard, or either the phones i’ve found with lead are pre regulations of some sort. Nice bit of lead either way. Kind of stuff to scrap if there is nothing else like copper. Thanks again for all the info.

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Duane Goings April 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Steven & Lena,
Any of the lead still available?

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Jimmie R. May 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Steven Sins, you are full of shit as all that lead doesn’t belong to you… you piece of crap!!!!
Next time you want to offer something, make sure you are not smoking something buddy.

Cheers! !

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Derek S. June 7, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I am assuming that all lead pipes are low alpha am I right? Did they make lead pipes after wwII?

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Keith July 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm

I have about 40 tons of lead from a pre WWII military ship that I am trying to have tested to determine if it is low alpha. The impurities test came back at 99.9997% pure lead and our preliminary tests for alpha have been encouraging, but I need to get it certified if it is indeed low alpha. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Keith 804-436-4075

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Joe Bonness August 4, 2013 at 3:30 am

I’m scrapping a couple of old sail boats 1925 & 1947 how do I test for low alpha? What alpha level should I look for?

Joe

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Keren Jackson August 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

I have some lead printers type…..where is the best forum to sell this?

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chopscrap n tressure September 22, 2013 at 9:21 pm

is it posible to pull apart led acid batterys to get the lead from then’ and if so is it safe, or will acid come spraying out and melt all my skin leaving me looking like the TOXI ADVENGER,,and if not are led acid battery more to scrap than car battery”s…New to scrapping but have learnt so much so fast thanx to your site and knowlidge..Best ever scraping site on the net

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Carrie April 22, 2014 at 9:28 pm

The lead in car batteries is in two forms…metallic lead and lead oxide. Without a sophisticated smelter you can’t render metallic lead out of the useless lead oxide….so at leat half the lead in a car bettery is unusable. It’s best to sell the battery, getting full value for the lead of course (check prices first) then buy scrap metallic lead from either the same scrap dealer or trade the battery for it as a whole. The lead oxide forms dust when you try to take the battery apart adding to health issues. The terminals and every other plate inside are metallic lead, that is what hasn’t been sulfodized by the acid…and you can’t retrieve lead from sulphide without a sophisticated smelter, same as lead oxide. In addition, when melting lead, do it in a well ventillated area only, lead vapor does emit from the surface of molten lead and in a confided space it will be absorbed by your lungs. If you do lead smelting frequently, it’s a issue, if not, likely not an issue.

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chopscrap n tressure September 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm

is it posible to pull apart led acid batterys to get the lead from then’ and if so is it safe, or will acid come spraying out and melt all my skin leaving me looking like the TOXI ADVENGER,,and if not are led acid battery more to scrap than car battery”s…New to scrapping but have learnt so much so fast thanx to your site and knowlidge..Best ever scraping site on the net

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Carrie April 22, 2014 at 9:32 pm

taking apart a lead/acid battery only retrieves half or 60 percent of the lead and if you pour out the acid first, rinse the battery with water or baking soda solution, the acid is gone. It’s best to just sell the battery as is, that way you get value for all the lead including the lead oxide and sulphides which you can’t melt to retrieve. Sulphides and oxides need to go into a special smelting furnace for about ten hours with carbon to reduce the sulphides and oxides into metallic lead. You can’t do this on your stove top or camping stove, camp fire or with a blow torch so don’t try. You can heat up lead sulphide all day with a blow torch and it’ll just sit there and look at you.

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Monique Bates October 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Do lead pipes stick to magnets.im trying to find lead items

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chuck June 5, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Lead is non ferrous so no it will not

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Ruth October 23, 2013 at 11:22 pm

I have several tons of lead for sale from a shielded chemical cabinet used for radiology purposes,
located in sacrmento, CA

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Eric November 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I’m looking to sell approx. a ton of used lead acid batteries. They come from a battery back-up unit found in a small office data center. There are 40 batteries and each is about 50 lbs. I’m located in southern Rhode Island. I’ve received an offer of $0.20 per pound at a local scrap yard. Even if you’re not interested, would appreciate any useful information. Thanks

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Marsha H. January 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Thank you for your site. Best one out there!

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Mark Yelverton January 11, 2014 at 12:19 am

i have about a 100lbs of lead that my father in law had to use for fishing weights. where can i sell it? i’m assuming its too costly to ship. i have a local recycler near by but i think that this is worth more because its the kind u buy and melt.

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Duane Goings January 14, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Hi Mark,
Most people ship lead in USPS Flat Rate boxes. Think it’s about $12/box for up to 70 lbs. You can get the boxes free from USPS. Package lead in ziplock bags, then put lots of extra tape on box to prevent damage.
I would give you $50 for the lead and $25 for shipping (2) USPS Medium boxes each with 50lbs in them.
Duane

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marshall February 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm

i am a builder in ne england and have been saving scrap lead (poss low alpha) its from houses 1880s to 1930s is it worth keeping or just taking to local scrapyard who will give me @£2_£3 per kilo

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Dave P February 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I am doing the interior demo of a Hotel built in 1923. I have found hundreds or pounds of lead in sheets ranging in sizes of 3′ to 5′ long by 4′ wide. They were placed under the floor in showers and had 1 1/2″ of Terrazzo poured on top of it. The lead is very soft and pliable. I am looking for a buyer

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Marita March 14, 2014 at 7:22 pm

My siblings & I have the overwhelming task of cleaning our parents’ home since their passing. We have run into solid lead & liquid lead! We have no idea how to sell, recycle, etc. this stuff!!! Anyone know anything re: this subject? I live in Portland , Oregon if there is somewhere in my area to go…
Thanks!!

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Carrie April 22, 2014 at 9:35 pm

There is no such thing as liquid lead…likely you ran into mercury which is much more valuable and toxic than lead. Mercury, lead and any metal values can be found as commodities by googling lead price or mercury price or copper price etc..

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Mark S March 28, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Marita,

Depending on quantity, I would be interested. I live up the road from you in WA.

Not sure how you have “liquid lead” as it becomes liquid at around 700°F !

markdafedman@gmail.com

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Carrie April 22, 2014 at 9:38 pm

It’s mercury…a typical Jane housewife who was watching boys in science class instead of actually learning something. It’s best to use the head as something other than a button to keep the spinal cord from unravelling. What stupidity on this forum!

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Theresa Bulger June 8, 2014 at 9:43 am

We have two huge heavy lead poles that were sunk 4 feet into the ground and held some sort of swing arbor. Located in Chincoteague Island, VA. dug out and ready. VERY old!

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Anthony Mitchell June 15, 2014 at 11:29 am

I am going to an auction in a week or so and there is around 1000#s of lead up for bid in it. What would be a good max bid for a person to make to turn a profit in resale? The lead was to be used for making ammo if that matters.

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