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useful waste solutions

Beginners guide to Scrap Metal

Scrap Metal Explained

It is amazing how many people tell me they’ve taken metal into the scrap yard and thought they would get a load of money, only to find out it’s not worth a lot at all!

Scrapping is a skill and there are many levels of knowledge which greatly impact on the amount of £££’s you get for your scrap! Being able to distinguish between metal types is key.

Firstly you have ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous is any metal containing iron. The easiest way to tell, touch it with a magnet (the scrapper's best friend). If it sticks it's ferrous. Iron/steel comes in many varieties, so here’s my suggested way to quickly sort:

What to do with Ferrous Scrap Metal

  • Light shearings – any light iron/steel, the magnet sticks to it, it’s a very common form you’ll find on cookers, washing machines etc. This will get you the bottom run of the mill price.
  • Heavy Steel – brake pads, RSJ’s or steel’s, cast iron, any very dense heavy form of steel, you’ll get a slightly better price. If you have a little bit of light shearing’s stick in the bottom of the pile.

What to do with Non-Ferrous Scrap Metal

Non-ferrous is basically everything else, these materials should be bagged up in their separate groups and when you take them in you’ll achieve a much better overall price.

  • Copper – mainly pipes, every plumber I know hoards this metal till Christmas, if there is any brass or other metal attached cut it off to get the best price. (Have a read of our Christmas news about Copper too.)
  • Brass – Taps, fittings. This metal is very commonly disregarded but I have always found brass really adds up due to it being a very dense and heavy metal.
  • Electric cable – Some people will strip the PVC of the cable, I’ve always found unless you have a machine it’s simply not worth the effort of doing this as you end up with a pile of PVC to get rid of. Scrap yards have processing machines that will do several ton per hour so generally you’re going to get quite a good price. Normally about a third of the copper price.
  • Pyro/elements – You’ll find these in cooker, dishwashers, heaters. Most people don’t even realise the value of these. Take two seconds to whip them out and before long you’ll have a nice bag full to take in.
  • Stainless Steel – It’s shiny, its heavy, it looks like steel but the magnet doesn’t stick to it. Generally your pots and pans, the inside of the dishwasher, sinks, this all adds up very quickly and well worth keeping to the side as most of the time it is either a clean metal or takes no time at all to clean.
  • Chrome – Now this can get a bit confusing but chrome looks like stainless but the magnet does stick and to be honest it’s such a small amount above the steel price that unless prices shoot up it’s not really worth the effort of working out what it is and just throw it in with the steel. Just don’t mix it up with the stainless, no one likes that.
  • Motors – These come in all manner of sizes, from a car or lorry, to the motor out of a fan or washing machine. These heavy little beauties can really put some weight in the barrel when you have a few, just watch your back when you pick them up.
  • Aluminium – Ally covers a wide range so the short of it is keep it clean. Any steel mixed in or attached needs to be taken off to leave it clean of contamination. If it is dirty then there is a dirty ally price which is about double steel so worth still keeping. Check out our Ally explained article for more on this metal.
  • Lead – It’s heavy, it bends and if you turn up with too much and no explanation as to where it came from you may well be turned away. Due to rogue groups steeling lead from rooves scrap yards are understandably tense around any large volume you can’t explain, simply their licence and business is not worth your pile. If you can explain then it is a great metal to take is as even a little is heavy with a good price.
  • Batteries – no not Duracell! Car batteries, UPS batteries basically called lead acid batteries, they are a hazardous material and need to be handled with care, but I’d rather get paid by the scrap yard who are licensed to manage the material than pay someone to take it away. Batteries are nice and heavy to so really do make their money.

This basic run down of the more common types of scrap give you a starting point, rather than throwing it out as one large pile, sort it out a bit and you’ll find it well worth the time and effort!

Dan: 27th Nov 2017 15:58:00

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