One thing that can mess new metal scrappers up is a lack of metal knowledge. You don't have to have a degree in metallurgy, but you do need to know a little something if you want to make any money. The faster you learn the basics, the faster you can start making money.
The Most Common Types of Scrap Metal
Generally, the main three types of metals you will come across are steel, aluminum, and copper. You may stumble on some brass here and there as well. These are the common ones, but there are various types of metals out there waiting for you to find them. You can separate all of these metals into two broad groups.
Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals
Ferrous metals contain iron. They're the most common forms of metal out there. Many scrap buyers prefer to receive ferrous metal by the ton. These metals command the lowest sell prices, but you'll come across them more than any other. Examples of ferrous metals include:
- Steel (but not stainless steel)
- Iron (and iron alloys)
Ferrous metal is everywhere. It's in cars, appliances, nuts, and bolts. Since ferrous metals are so abundant, they usually sell pretty cheaply. That's why scrap metal buyers prefer to purchase ferrous metals by the ton rather than the pound.
So ferrous metals won't always earn you much, but you should still collect them and recycle them, mainly because recycling is the right thing to do. Also, you're going to come across a lot of it, and those small dollar amounts can add up over time.
Non-ferrous metals are those metals that do not contain iron. Non-ferrous metals are not as readily found as ferrous metals. Because of that, scrap buyers typically purchase non-ferrous metals by the pound. Examples of non-ferrous metals include:
The price scrap buyers are willing to pay for non-ferrous metals can vary widely from place to place. In some areas there is a greater need for certain kinds of metals, and so those metals will fetch a premium.
Stainless steel is a special case as there are different grades of it. Some of those grades contain non-ferrous metals while others do not.
Figuring Out Which is Which
There's a very easy way to figure out which metals are ferrous, and which aren't. All you need is a magnet. You can get fancy and use a dedicated hand magnet for this purpose, but really, any magnet at all will do.
Your magnet won't stick to non-ferrous metals such as copper, zinc, aluminum, and brass. These kinds of metals fetch a better price. Knowing the difference between these two categories can help you separate your scrap metal.
You don't want your valuable non-ferrous metals mixed in with your ferrous metals. Dedicate some time to learning how to identify your metals. This is the first and most basic step towards learning how to make money by selling scrap metal to scrap buyers and scrap metal recycling centers.
Contact a service like Summit Recycling of Penn Hills for more information.