Scrap Metal Articles


This should clear up some of the confusion I have heard from some on how to identify different types of metals! Before you leave please check out my must read page on HOW TO START SCRAPPING METAL!Check out the bottom of the page for a link to the ISRI scrap specification manual.

  • Make sure you know how to pull apart all of the items listed in the SCRAP GUIDE.
  • First and foremost, ALWAYS HAVE A MAGNET! This is the tool of the trade, some would say, and to be without one will make you seem like a fool. I have a whole collection of magnets that I have tore out of different scrapped appliances and what not. Microwaves, speakers, hard drives, and other electronics all have magnets you can pull out.
  • You will undoubtably make very good use of the Spark Test… that is if you lean about the spark test. Use that guide to get it down, and then practice.
  • I have written a specialty guide to identifying special types of e-waste. Things like computers, monitors, RAM, CPUs, and more.

The magnet will become your weapon, and with it you will sort ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

It’s a steel slinky!


  • Is 3x heavier than aluminum.
  • Will rust.
  • Sticks to a magnet…
  • is abundant.
  • is strong
This 1974 concept design for the penny is made of
aluminum. In 1982, pennies switched from copper
to zinc composition.  Every penny costs 1.23 cents to make.

How to Identify Aluminum:

  • is quite light
  • does NOT draw a magnet
  • does NOT throw sparks when ground with an angle grinder.
  • doesn’t rust.

How To Identify Copper:

Pure copper wiring is often called brite
and can fetch prices between Copper #1
and spot copper prices due to lack of
  • Is mostly used in wiring and electronics.
  • Makes great cookware
  • When copper is pure it has beautiful pink color
  • Due to tarnishing, is usually a red or brown color. (also beautiful)
  • Oxidizes into a strong green color. (see Statue Of Liberty)
  • Is about as heavy as iron.
  • Copper #1 is clean copper, including pipes without solder joints.
  • Copper #2 is painted copper, copper with solder joints, things of that nature
  • Light Copper is copper sheeting. Some yards may call this copper #3.
  • Copper Breakage: Motors, transformers, inductors, some processors, et cetera.
Bronze: the third place medal metal.

How To Identify Brass or Bronze:

  • is usually a yellow-ish color and pays about half the price of copper #1.
  • may be called brass or bronze, but some will say “Copper alloy” to avoid confusion.
  • Is often found in the form of pipe valves, fluid manifolds, decorative pieces, or instruments.
  • Can be alloyed with nickel, in which case it is called a CUPRONICKEL (see below)

How to Grade Copper Wire:

  • Because the grades of wire are not explicitly spelled out by the ISRI, they are usually graded different by every yard.
  • There are many different ways of grading copper wire, but what it really comes down to is percentage of copper that is within the wire. Some people like to strip the copper themselves and get full copper price, other like to just take it in as is. Really, it just comes down to how much time you have.
  • 85% Wire: Thin case with a diameter comparible to a pencil’s. If you have this type of wire, just strip it yourself and get ful copper price!
  • 70% Wire: Romex/machine wire without any attachments.
  • 52% Wire: Extension cords and appliance cords, with all attachments removed.
  • 35% Wire: Thinly gauged wire with a considerable degree of attachments.
  • 12% Wire: Christmas lights.
This car battery is made of lead plates surrounded
by Sulfuric Acid, H2SO4.
How To Identify Lead:
  • Is 150% denser than iron, so it should feel heavy.
  • Is atomic element 82 with chemical symbol Pb (from latin plumbum meaning lead)
  • is very malleable, or soft, and can be carved with a pocket knife.
  • Will melt in an over or over a fire at 621°F
  • used to make bullets, and line xray machines.
  • is very toxic (but apparently has a sweet taste).
Angle grounder throwing sparks of off a
piece of regular iron.

How To Identify 304 Grade Stainless Steel:

  • 304 stainless steel is an iron alloy with 18% chromium an 8% nickel.
  • It WILL NOT draw a magnet.
  • Use the Spark test.
  • is non magnetic
  • Is an iron alloy with 18% chromium and 10% nickel, but is worth up to 50 cents more per pound depending on the yard.
  • To me and most scrappers, it looks exactly the same as 304 stainless.
  • Look for a “316 SS” stamp or one similar to distinguish this.
  • When spark tested, will have less “forks” at the end of streams.
  • Have your yard check with an XRF gun if you’re curious but don’t know.
  • Is an iron alloy with 17% chromium 4%Nickel and 7% Manganese
  • Are much more corrosion resistant that 300 grade.
  • Are harder to sell to a scrap yard because they will not accumulate enough to find a buyer.
  • A scrap yard could sell this with 300 grade stainless if they wanted to.


  • has no nickel in it, and therefore IS magnetic.
  • If it is magnetic, many yards will not pay stainless price for it.
  • Is an alloy of 11% Chromium and ~1% manganese


  • a fancy way of saying copper/nickel alloy
  • is worth much more that copper 1.
  • Some yards will cheat and try to buy this stuff as brass or cheaper.
  • is actually at least 30% Ni, sometimes up to 90%, which is 3 times as expensive as copper.
  • Is often used in fake jewelry, silver plated dinnerware, ship making, salt water pipes, heat exchangers and condensers, musical instruments and more…
  • You my have to shop around until you find a yard that will buy this for a great price without trying to screw you.


  • The heating elements out of an electric stove are all made of a majority nickel alloy.
  • If you have a lot of them, get payed for them!
  • have your yard check all heating elements with an XRF gun so you can get payed the right price.
  • Your price for heating elements should at least be that of the price of 316 Stainless.

How To Identify CARBIDE

  • Carbide is short for Tungston Carbide, a compound with shorthand WC.
  • Carbide is heavy! At 16g/cm^3, it is 16 times as heavy as water!
  • Two tablespoons of this stuff weights over a pound!
  • Can be scrapper for over 7 dollars per pound.
  • Is usually found in the form of end mills, inserts or saw tips.
  • If you hit it with a grinder, it will make very short, dim, dark red sparks.
  • It is very strong!
  • Most carbide is actually Cemented Tungston Carbide Cobalt, or basically, Co with grains of WC in it.

  8 Responses to “Scrap Metal Articles”

  1. We’ve all been very conscientious about recycling as much of our garbage and unusable items as we possibly can to help conserve energy, preserve the landfills and, in general, help our environment. The prices of scrap metal at recycling centers also plays a part in how much recycling people do as well as the items they have to recycle. Scrap metal is the number one thing that people bring in for recycling, a fact probably due to the numerous items that can be brought in for recycling.

    Throughout the United States there are hundreds of recycling centers. Most of them cater to businesses by bringing storage containers right to the site to make it more convenient for the business. They bring pallets, gaylords, dumpsters or other storage units and leave them on the site until they’re full, at which time, they will come and pick them up.

    Homeowners use the prices of scrap metal recycling centers as a reason for turning in their old garbage. Not only are they getting a good price for their garbage but they’re also getting their yards and garage cleaned out. Almost everything today is recyclable. Some of the items that can be turned in to recycling centers include air conditioners, aluminum cans, cast iron, hot water heaters, aluminum steel ladders, appliances, cast iron bathtubs, motors, microwaves, all types of bronze and brass, pots and pans, copper pipes, bicycles, automotive parts and more.

    Prices of scrap metal at recycling centers vary depending on what type of metal is being recycled. Metal is broken down into ferrous or non-ferrous metal. The prices of scrap metal at recycling centers are different for ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Ferrous metals, which are iron, steel, tin, etc., may sell for anywhere from $.03 to over $.10 while non-ferrous metals (aluminum, copper, etc.) may sell for up to $2.75 when the prices are going good. The recycling centers are able to determine the difference between the ferrous and non-ferrous metals by the use of a magnet.

    Prices of scrap metal at recycling centers may vary from week to week or even day to day depending on the going price. Another thing that may affect the prices of scrap metal at recycling centers is how neat the metal is and if it’s sorted. If the recycling center has to sort it, they aren’t going to give as high of a price. You’re encouraged to remove any plastic, rubber or wood parts, which will make it easier as well as give you a better price. Most of the recycling centers will not take hazardous or flammable items.

  2. There are many scrap metal recycling hints and tips that can make recycling easier and more productive for the customer and the scrap metal recycling center. It’s a good idea to know what items are recyclable and which are not, although you’d be amazed at how many things can now be recycled. You can go through your home and find things in every room that can be taken in to be recycled. The same can be said for your garage or workshop, which is where most of your recyclable items can be found. If you’re wondering which items in your garage can be used for scrap metal recycling, a hint or tip is that most metals are perfect.

    Some of the many items you can take in for recycling include batteries, automotive parts, aluminum soda cans, aluminum ladders, appliances, microwaves, pots and pans, copper, brass and all metal items. If you’re bringing in a large quantity of items for scrap metal recycling, some hints or tips you may not be aware of is that the less work they have to do to prepare the materials, the more money they’ll be willing to pay you. For instance, if you sort your items into groups, it will take them less time to determine how much they’re paying for the scrap metal recycling.

    Hints, tips and ideas about recycling can be found on most of the recycling center websites as well at the scrap metal recycling. Don’t just throw out all your old garbage in a quest to clean your garage or home. Consider what recycling will do for your atmosphere and join the millions that are choosing to go green and save the earth.

  3. So what kind of steel is a slinky made of?

  4. Ok, next question. I have (toroflux) a device made of an unknown Stainless Alloy. I want to obtain some stainless steel of the same alloy to try and make some kinetic sculptures.. but I have no idea how to go about identifying the allow. It is very similar to slinky, but thicker and actually has a slightly better shape memory. Any suggestions how I might get it identified?

    • Ok, I looked at the device. Very cool! My thought is that it is made of a stainless with a high nickel content such as the Type 301—highly ductile, for formed products. Also hardens rapidly during mechanical working. Good weldability. Better wear resistance and fatigue strength. There are two ways to make sure the first is to take a sample to a university and see if you can have it looked at through a mass spectrometer or find scrap yard that is using a XRF alloy analyzer..good luck there as they are very expensive. I currently don’t know of any in my area that have one. Pleas keep me updated as you have me intrigued.