Being in a tight budget will probably make a person creative both in cutting expenses, as well as getting another income stream. There are a lot of things a person can do to earn more income like doing several part-time or one-time jobs. Earning passive income is also an option, and one of the easiest ways to earn periodically is by selling scrap metal.
Selling scrap metal is a good way to make money out of trash and unusable items. It can also help in resolving environmental issues that plague every society today.
When our Airbnb plumber came to upgrade our toilet he saw we had a lot of “junk” laying in the garage. We had 3 dead laptops, printers, mini TVs, old cables, old wires, metal pipes, crock pots, and an old mini fridge. His eyes lit up and asked if he could have it all. He wanted to sell it to a scrap yard and told us he will split the money with us for the trouble of going down to the scrap yard. The items there (depending on the exact metals) was worth at least $50 to easily a couple of hundred bucks!
Depending on what you find, the revenue could earn you tens or hundreds of bucks. The first thing you need to do is to know about scrap metal, their usual trade prices, and how to safely strip them from the source.
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Table of Contents
What is Scrap Metal?
In its simplest definition, Scrap Metal are metals which are left from a product which can be melted and recycled back to another usable form. Scrap metals come from a lot of commercial products that we use today: car parts, appliances, furnitures, building surplus, etc. Even that rusty roof can be sold for a certain amount of money.
Pros and Cons of Selling Scrap Metal
One of the most beneficial thing in selling scrap metal is monetary value. However, recycling is also a good way to help in cleaning the waste in the environment. It also helps in creating livelihood for a lot of people, and therefore improves the economy of the certain community. In addition, recycling can help in sustainability of other industries such as beverages, paper production, and notably, the electronic industry.
The pros of selling scrap metal outweighs its cons in a lot of degrees. However, a coin always have another side, and when it comes to selling scrap metals, the first con is the danger of recycling. Metals that are twisted or rusted can cause injuries. In addition, improper handling of chemicals and appliances can result to a very serious injury. Practice wearing the right outfit and using the right tools and containers when recycling. Always make a first-aid kit available.
How is Scrap Metal Valued?
Usually, scrap yards unload your metal to their scale and based in the weight, they will give you an amount for it. However, it is not as simple as “the more metal you bring, the more money you’ll receive.” Scrap yards classifies metals by two: ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Basically, non-ferrous metals yields higher monetary value, but according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, ferrous metals are more common in Municipal Solid Waste. Ferrous metals are metals with iron and steel.
You wouldn’t want to mix ferrous and non-ferrous metals in the scale (that would impair the value). To separate ferrous and non-ferrous metal, the general rule is to stick a magnet. If the magnet sticks, your metal is ferrous. But if it didn’t, your metal is non-ferrous and is worth more money,
Common Sources of Scrap Metals
1. Local Repair Shops
If you’re looking for scrap metals and thinking about going to the largest repair shop in town, you might want to go to smaller local repair shops instead. Large repair shops will usually have someone hauling their scrap and selling them for additional revenue. However, the local ones will give you any appliances just to free up space.
2. Retail Outlets
Usually, retail outlets will periodically replace their shelves before even the need for replacing arises. This is for security and convenient purposes, as damages to people and products can happen if an old shelf collapses. Because of this, retail outlets are a good source for old steel shelving or damaged shopping carts.
3. Shooting Ranges
Shells of bullets used in shooting ranges are made of brass and can be collected to be used in recycling. Contact the administration to schedule a free pick up.
4. Clinics and Centers
Appliances and furnitures from clinics and centers are used a lot and are immediately replaced. Hospitals don’t usually replace their beds, but if they did, you can make a decent amount by talking with the admin.
5. Technicians and Electricians
A lot of professional repairman will usually have a lot of things in their workspace, including scrap metals from previous repairs. Although they might not have a lot of scrap metal like in local repair shops, they can still have parts and scrap that can add up to your collection.
Make sure to always get your scrap metals on safe places. You can ask for permission if you’re to go looking for other people’s dumpsters. Always ask for permission and avoid trespassing into other people’s properties just to get their scrap metal. You can get yourself in trouble, both for your safety and from the law.
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Finding The Right Scrap Yard
Finding the nearest scrap yards can be done in as easy as doing a web search, reading reviews and checking the ratings. A good scrap yard should also have a good management that can accommodate you and assess your metals in a right and just way. After all, they will want more of your scrap metal because this is where they get their revenues. For a scrap metal seller, four more factors are important: price, location, loyalty programs, and special deals.
Price is the heaviest deciding factor, as you took a lot of effort to collect the scrap metal to make a decent amount of money. It is natural to go to the highest bidding yard. Location and hours of operation is better if it is within your convenience. And last but not the least are special deals. Scrap years will usually host metal-based specials, which can improve your sales.
Metals That Should Not Be Sold In Scrap Yards
1. Stolen Copper Wires
Copper is one of the metals that are easy to sell in Scrap Yards. They can usually be found in copper wires which are stripped and weighed out to know the value. Scrap yards have some tricks in their sleeves to know if the copper being brought to them are stolen or not. Although it is legal to sell copper wires and pipes that are collected and stripped properly, it is illegal to sell stolen copper wires.
2. Air Conditioning Units with Freon
HVAC units can give different kinds of metals and is one of the most profitable appliances that can be sold to scrap yards. Old air-conditioning units are good sources of brass which can haul a decent amount of money. However, air conditioning units are known for containing Freon, which is a dangerous chemical. Plumbers can easily remove the freon, but typical house owners cannot. If you cannot remove freon in your air-conditioning unit, better ask someone else who have the proper skills, otherwise, EPA will fine you for thousands of dollars because of improper freon treatment.
3. Motor Oil and Paint Cans
Scrap yards doesn’t accept motor oil and paint cans which are not cleaned properly. Paint and oil residues will sometimes stick in the metal, which makes it harder to recycle. Scrap yards want your metal scraps, but they wouldn’t want to work extra just to remove the paint and oil in the cans.
4. Any Metal With Something Extra
The rule above will also apply to other extras such as paper, cardboard, and other materials that are stuck in the metal. Copper wires are needed to be stripped before being weighed.
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Price of Common Traded Scrap Metals
Selling scrap metal is probably the most profitable form of recycling. Usually, every man-made things that you own have some metal in it – from cell phone devices, broken grills, and old plumbing joints, to water filters. The prices of metal can vary from place to place. The type of metal will also affect the price you’ll be able to fetch. On average you can make $10 per 100 pounds of metal. The largest amount of money you can make out of scrap metal like those you can find on broken grills is $100.
Here are some numbers to give you an idea of how much you can make per type of metal. These are the most commonly traded metals in the market right now.
- Copper – $2.47 per pound
Where to find: phone cords, electrical cords, old pipes used in plumbing, pots, and electronic wirings.
Tip: Insulated copper wires are cheaper, so always remove insulation from your copper wires.
- Brass – $1.42 per pound
Where to find: door knobs, old bed frames, bullet casings, old air-conditioning unit, water meters, water spigets, faucet, faucet handles and more.
Tip: It is often hard to distinguish brass from bronze. But if you scratch a brass with file, it will cut easily while a bronze will not.
- Aluminum – $0.06 to $0.55 per pound
Where to find: window frames, bicycles, old soda and beer cans, car hoods, nails, ladders, and computer parts
Tip: If you cannot determine if a metal is aluminum or stainless steel, use a magnet. If it doesn’t stick, your metal is aluminum.
- Carbide – $6 to $6.75 per pound
Where to find: tool bits and drill bits, agricultural tools,
Tip: Even carbide dusts and bits can be sold at high price, so make sure to accumulate a lot of these before going to a scrap yard.
- Steel – $0.03 to $0.05 per pound
Where to find: appliances, coat hangers, trays, sinks, pots and pans, buildings, etc.
Tip: Stainless steel are not magnetic due to the additional nickel content. Stainless steel will also fetch lower price.
Yes, you can also sell non-metal materials in scrap yards. However, it is not completely a “non-metallic” sale, except for glass and plastic bottles. These items are also paid per pound, so it is also a good idea to accumulate these items first before going to a scrap yard.
1. Broken TV
Depending on the kind of TV and how “broken” it is, the sale for broken TVs varies a lot. Broken CRT TV is not favored because a very tedious job is needed just to get the bit of copper inside. Parts that can be sold is the panel, the power supply, the main board, the chassis, and the button board. A mainboard can get you as high as $70 if the unit is good.
2. Car and Lithium Ion Batteries
Before you can sell a car battery, it must contain a Pb label, which means that it is Pb-free or lead-free. These usually cost $0.22 to $0.26 per pound. On the other hand, lithium ion batteries which can be found on phones and laptops are priced for $1.50 to $2.50 per pound.
Phones are recycled because of the fact that phone circuits are made up of copper, gold, lead, zinc, and other raw materials. If you have tons of old phones just collecting dusts in your storage, you can sell it for $4.25 per pound.
4. Laptops and Computer Servers
Laptops that are too old or too broken to work again can be sold for $0.50 per pound. Meanwhile, servers can be bought from $0.18 to $0.31, based on the completeness.
5. Glass Bottles
Glass bottles can be also be recycled and is one of the most recycled things on Earth. You probably drank on a recycled and treated bottle of Coke. Glass bottles can be sold for $0.10 per pound.
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Alternatively, you can sell your scrapped appliances to a local scrap yard and sell them by weight. The following are the most common home appliances and their average cost per kilogram.
- Dryer with an average weight of 100lb to 150lbs: $10 – $15
- Refrigerator (with compressor removed) with an average weight of 175lbs to 200lbs: $16-$20
- Two-door refrigerator (with compressor removed) with an average weight of 250lbs to 300lbs: $24 – $28
- Freezer with an average weight of 100lbs to 175lbs: $16 –$18
- Washing Machine with an average weight of 200bs to 250lbs: $18 – $22
- Gas BBQ Grill with an average weight of 180lbs to 220lbs: $15 to $25