Turning Your Scrap Metal into Gold

If you have a garage or shop full of junk, you may able to earn some money by clearing out your space. Most metal objects—including small fragments and wiring—can be sold to a metal recycling center. There are many factors involved in determining how much money you can make from selling scrap metal—if any at all. These include the going rate for various alloys at your local scrap yard (which is determined by the supply they already have and current demand from buyers), how easily your load can be unloaded and dismantled, and so forth.

More Bang for Your Scrap

The amount you will receive for your scrap depends on both the type of metal and the weight. Some metals are much more valuable than others. For example, brass is quite durable and easy to polish, which makes it a very lucrative alloy—look for it in gears, locks, ammunition, and valves (all uses that require minimal friction) and musical instruments. Copper is the real scrap yard king, however. Processing raw copper ore into the usable copper material you are used to requires tremendous energy and cost. On the other hand, you can reuse 100% of existing copper—there is no loss of material and far less energy used in the recycling process.

What to Expect in the Scrap Yard

Open pickup beds or trailers are ideal for transporting scrap because they can be unloaded using a crane. Most yards have a magnetic crane that can easily pick up ferrous metals like iron and steel (nonferrous metals can be unloaded using a forklift or other tools). If you drive an SUV or other enclosed vehicle, you will often be responsible for unloading your own metals. When you visit a scrap yard, an attendant will typically weigh your fully loaded vehicle and then weigh again once the scrap is unloaded. The difference in weight will determine the amount you are paid. Once you drive away, your scrap metal will be condensed into a “bale” with other pieces of the same material or shredded into small fragments. Eventually, these bundles will be sent to another site to be melted down in a blast furnace and then recycled for new uses.

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