New To Finding And Selling Scrap Metal? 3 Misconceptions That Can Cost You Money

Posted on: 14 December 2016

Many people earn good incomes finding and selling scrap metal as a full-time job, but you can earn some great extra income from selling scrap metal to scrap metal buyers working just a few hours each week. Of course, there is a learning curve to knowing where to find free metal in your area legally, how to sort it, and which metals will earn you the most cash, but once you master the basics of scrap metal collecting, your job will become much easier and more lucrative. You may already know which metals are most valuable -- such as copper and brass -- but have some misconceptions about other types of metals and what scrap metal buyers will take.

Read on to learn the truth behind three common scrap metal misconceptions that can help you earn much more money as a scrap metal collector. 

1. Non-Ferrous Metals are Not Worth Collecting and Selling

If you have already looked into the values of various types of metal, then you have likely learned that non-ferrous metals, such as copper, brass, and aluminum are much more valuable than ferrous metals, such as steel and iron. This may have led you to believe that when collecting scrap metal to sell, you should only look for items made of ferrous metals and not bother collecting non-ferrous metal. 

However, most people who earn good incomes collecting and selling scrap metal collect all types of metal. While scrap metal buyers do pay sellers very little for every pound of non-ferrous metal (some scrap metal buyers will purchase non-ferrous metals for about 6-10 cents per pound, although this varies widely from buyer to buyer and as the values of metals fluctuate regularly), many items made out of these metals, such as large appliances, are very heavy, which makes the items themselves very valuable. 

For example, an old washing machine you find on the curb may be made of non-ferrous metal, but if it weighs 200 pounds and the scrap metal buyer is offering about 10 cents per pound the metal it is made of, then you can make a quick $20 just by picking it up and taking it to a scrap metal buyer. 

2. You Have to Take Every Appliance You Find Apart and Only Sell the Metal

Now that you know how much those old non-working appliances can really be worth, even though the metal they contain is not valuable in small amounts, you may worry that the time and skill (along with the cost of tools) needed to take those appliances apart will make collecting them a time-killer that eats into your income. This is a very common misconception that keeps many people from every bothering to collect and sell scrap metal in appliances. 

However, most scrap metal buyers will take full appliances and even electronic items and pay you for them immediately, before they even take them apart themselves. They know just how much metal is an an average appliance of the weight the one you turn in, so they simply weigh the entire item and deduct a few pounds based on the average weight of the extra, non-metal materials in the item; they then pay you and send you on your way. 

There are a few appliances that contain freon cooling agent, such as refrigerators and old air-conditioning units, that you absolutely do not want to take apart before taking to a scrap metal buyer; removing the components that contain (or used to contain) freon yourself is a safety hazard and a violation of federal law. Some scrap metal buyers will take refrigerators and air conditioners and some will not, so before hauling those items to your scrap metal buyer, find out whether they accept those specific appliances or not. 

3. High-Value Copper is Extremely Hard to Find

Since copper is one of the most valuable scrap metals that can earn you around $2 to $2.50 a pound or more depending on the market rate when you turn it in, you likely want to find as much as you can when collecting scrap. However, since most people know it is relatively valuable, you may suspect it will be hard to find. The truth is that even though it is known to be valuable, not many people know that it can be hidden in everyday appliances and electronics!

In fact, to find valuable copper every day when scrapping, all you have to do is look for electrical wiring. Most electrical wires, from appliance wires to cell phone chargers to those abundant in computers, contain copper. You don't even have to strip the wire insulation from the wires before taking them to the scrap metal buyer, because most will accept the full wire and estimate the value of the metal in it by weighing it and deducting the average weight of the insulation, similar to how they determine how much good metal is in appliances. 

It is a good idea to cut off the wire of every appliance you find before you turn the entire appliance in for cash and begin a copper wire collection. As you scrap more and more appliances and cut the wires from appliances you find that are not worth scrapping due to being made of mainly plastic, you can develop a heavy, high-value collection to turn in for good cash. 

If you want to begin collecting scrap metal and turning it into scrap metal buyers for extra income, then hopefully, learning the truth behind these three common misconceptions about collecting and selling scrap metal can help you earn more cash and make your new endeavor very lucrative!