Every day people everywhere throw out many items into the trash not knowing or not caring they are throwing away money. Then there are people who know this and put forth the effort of salvaging what would otherwise go to a landfill. Old refrigerators, microwaves, sweepers, metal broom handles and air conditioners are just a wee list of items that can be scraped for cash.
Another thing to know about metal recycling is that each metal has it’s own value. If you want maximum return on your metal, you must separated one from the other. This means cutting copper from water heaters, refrigerators and air conditioners,etc. All three are a nice source of copper, and the rest put into “tin & appliances” pile, the exception being air conditioners, as sometimes they are aluminum. If you leave your copper with tin, you will just get the price of tin, which at the moment is seven cents a pound. Copper is around 2.65 a pound. Remember, these prices are NOT set and can change, up or down at any moment.
Every scrap yard is different, some take more items than others. The scrap yard I go to takes just about anything, except computer monitors and televisions, but that’s just because of the glass. Items too hard to strip are left in the tin and appliance load. Stoves, toasters, curling irons, printers, microwaves would qualify for this group, minus the power cords. The power cords have good copper in them and are usually stripped for the higher price, or they can be left insulated and bring in a lower price as is. It just depends on what you want to do.
Finding metal is pretty easy. It’s also extremely fun, if you like treasure hunting. It also works smoother once you get your routine down, and get a feel for it. You even develop a sense of where you are most likely to find something. After a month of scraping, my partner and I now cruse the back roads, stopping when we come upon a potential dump site. These are usually marked with a good amount of soda cans, which we also recycle, so it’s win-win either way.
Cemeteries out in the wood, or surrounded by them is another good place to look. We stopped at one once and found a whole load within ten minutes. Dumpsters are often a gold mine. Through trial and error we discovered which dumpsters contain GREAT finds. These are usually the dumpsters used bu car repair businesses. There isn’t much actual rubbish so it’s not like going through yucky trash, but you do have to deal with oil and kitty litter and some chemicals. Thick working gloves are a necessity and you would expect to get dirty anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Of course you can always put an ad in the paper advertising to pick up junk that people no longer want. Also, scour the ads as people will ask of this, usually it’s yard sale items left over from a sale. Ask you friends and family. Put the word out. We found two whole loads cleaning up a house in the neighborhood after a family moved out.
So. If you think this is something you’d like to do, let’s get down to what you want to bring along when you hunt.
First, before you do anything with metal, get a TETANUS SHOT. Even if you’re current get one anyway. The vaccine is said to last ten years. I was on my third year after the shot and I had to go get it again after my jaw started to lock up after a cut. Old metals you find out in the woods have a lot of dirt on them and that’s exactly where tetanus comes from. Bacteria in the soil. And that’s exactly how I got it. This leads us to gloves.
Thick working gloves are necessary as you can, and will get cut easily on sharp metal. Rusted, broken metal can gouge , cut and scrape you. You don’t want cloth gloves, but thick cowhide gloves. Good, sturdy clothing like denim will help keep you from getting scraped up. And lastly you want boots or good sneakers when you’re out hunting. Rusty or not, nails suck. And they can go right through a thin soled shoe.
Other items to bring along might be a pole or metal coat hanger to get things past your normal reach. A flashlight , rope to tie down a big load. You will want a red tie such as an old shirt rag or plastic, you’ll need it if you want to legally drive with a pole sticking out from your vehicle so many inches. You’ll have to tie your flag to the item sticking out the furthest from your vehicle to warn other drivers. A small cooler with drinks and some wet wipes to clean our hands with is normal too. Wear a hat or bandanna to keep sun, sweat or hair out of your eyes and face.
Now, I’ll break the list of metals for you so you know what goes into each load.
TIN AND APPLIANCES: Least valuable. Stoves; refrigerators (minus copper); microwaves; curling irons; long iron(metal poles and bars longer than 3 feet); washers/dryers; tin food cans; coffee cans; freezers; lamps; vacuum cleaners; metal mop/broomsticks; metal culvert piping; old non brass/copper or plastic plumbing; car doors; hot water heaters(minus copper); metal windshield wipers; car gas tanks; misc large vehicle parts etc, you get the idea.
COPPER: High value. You can find a good chunk of copper in air conditioners, refrigerators, radiators(maybe also brass), hot water tanks, and sometimes floor freezers. Old plumbing and wiring has a great deal of copper.
BRASS: Second highest value. Found in plumbing pieces, older keys(some people never throw them away even if there is no use), lighting fixtures, old picture frames, shell cases, door hinges, etc.
CLEAN ALUMINUM: Siding, outdoor lighting, weed eaters, folding lawn chairs, old fans, chain length fencing, and air conditioners are all good sources of clean aluminum. By clean, there is little to no other metal or material with it.
STAINLESS STEEL: Fetches a good price. Kitchen sink are stainless. Looks like regular metal but it wont rust.
ALUMINUM CANS: Not sure why aluminum cans are different from clean aluminum but at fifty five cents a pound they’re worth saving and recycling.
SHORT IRON: Not much more than long iron or tin. Short iron is non appliance metal shorter than four feet.
CAR/LAWNMOWER BATTERIES: These types of batteries can be recycles and a good size battery can bring in about six bucks.
MOTORS/ENGINES: These too are worth money. Like the others, they go by the pound.
Last thing you need to know is that if you plan to thoroughly separate and sort your metal is- tools. The right tool can save you a lot of time and muscle. To properly separate one metal from another, you will need every thing from screw drivers and wrenches to bold cutters, pry bars and and saw that can cut through metals. You’ll even come across some screws that will have you digging through your tool boxes. Remember to always use caution when operating any kind of tools.