If you have every come across a sweet scrapping score of a few dozen, hundreds, or thousands of pounds of scrap cable or wire, it’s usually time for a small celebration. After your victory lap, it’s time to put your math skills to work and start figuring out what kind of profits and prices you can expect for your scrap copper. When you have wide gauge wire and cables for scrap, you may not have the time or correct tools to strip it down for the bare bright copper inside. So when you are faced with that situation it is easy to figure out the recovery rate of copper from the cable you have with some simple math and a few minutes. Below the iScrap App Team provides you with the necessary tools and steps to calculating the copper recovery rate for your cables and wires.
Tools & Materials Needed:
- Copper Cable or Wire Sample (2-3 inch in length)
- Cable or Wire Cutter
- Box Knife or Razor Blade
- Small Scale with Gram Measurement
- Paper & Pen
- Cut a 2-3 inch sample of your material with the insulation, plastic, and copper intact. This can be done with a sawzall or a cable cutter.
- Once you have done that, place the sample on the gram scale and record the overall weight of the sample (see above photo).
- After, take your razor blade or box knife to slice the cable open so that you can access every layer of the material inside and remove the different layers.
- Weigh the piece of insulation from the outside of the cable on the scale on it’s own and record the weight.
- Then remove the next layer (if different from the previous), whether that is copper foil, plastic, or more insulation. Weigh that and record it down.
- Repeat with any other materials that are different from the insulation, until you have gotten to the middle pieces of copper strands on the inside. Take a look and see if the copper in the middle is in fact bare bright copper or tin-coated copper.
- If it is difficult to get all of the pieces of copper on the scale together to weigh you can take a short cut of weighing all of the other materials and writing their weights down. From there you can subtract them from the overall weight of the sample of cable and the result is your overall copper wire weight.
- Once you have the weight of your copper wire on the inside of the cable, take that number and divide it by the overall weight of the sample and the result will be the percentage of copper recovery rate from your scrap cable or wire.
- You can bring that number to your scrap yard, along with the sample you deconstructed. From there you will be able to discuss a fair price for your copper scrap and understand what kind of numbers your yard is looking for.
You can see an example of this procedure below, in a video that Tom, the creator of the iScrap App did: