How-To: Strip Copper Wire for Scrap

Copper is one of the most sought-after metals in the scrap industry. It comes in various shapes and sizes, from pipe, wire, plate, electronics, and more. With our technology ever-growing, we have more electronics around us daily, which means more copper wire for scrap available. Having copper wire for recycling can be very valuable to strip for bare bright wire.

We have found that many scrappers want to know the best ways to make more money from their copper and wire. Some essential tips are to separate your #1 and #2 copper before heading to the scrap yard, and stripping some copper wire can make you a lot more money at the scale. Below, we have compiled some tips and resources on stripping your copper wire for scrap.

Don’t Buy An Expensive Wire Stripper Just Yet!

If you have never stripped copper wire before, we’re not going to suggest going out and buying an expensive wire stripper ($300-500) right away. Like a business plan, you have to figure out how much weight you will be pulling in regularly and if an investment like that will be worth it for you. If you are going to be able to make enough money with the volume of wire you strip, then it could be worth the expense. But if you want to save money, we have simple solutions for stripping scrap wire. We will start with the basic stripping methods and provide more efficient solutions for stripping your copper wire.

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What’s The Easiest Way To Strip Copper Wire?

  • NO BURNING: First and foremost, we would like to reiterate that you should NEVER “burn” your copper wire to remove the insulation under any circumstances. Not only does it harm the environment from the fumes, but it will downgrade your copper at the scrap yard. Often, people think a quick and easy way to remove the insulation is to burn it. But the residue from burning will downgrade it at most scrap yards.
  • Use The Sun: While you shouldn’t be burning the wires you want to get copper from, you can use some other heat to help you. When hand-stripping your wires, you can use the sun or heat to your advantage and make the process go faster. You can warm your wire in the oven (on low) or in a black box in the sunshine to warm the insulation to make it softer and more accessible to remove with a handheld stripper or razor blade. During the hot summer, some days will be so hot that it could leave a plastic residue on your copper.
  • Using A Machine: If you are dealing with a lot of scrap wire, you might need a wire stripper. Once you purchase an automatic tabletop stripper, be sure to get familiar with the machine before using it. If you bought a stripper, read the directions on how to strip different types and sizes of wires before using it. Knowing ahead is a good idea so you can work efficiently. It is a good idea to have separate containers to collect the insulation waste while stripping your wire to cut down on loose garbage.

Which Method Should I Use To Strip Copper Wire?

We suggest figuring out what kind of intake of materials you are bringing in for scrap copper wire. Once you know how much material you will bring in, you can figure out how to strip your copper wire. Remember, we suggest stripping wire that is thicker than your pinky finger or sometimes the size of a pen.

Scrapping Less Than 100 Pounds Per Month?

Razor or Handheld Tool: When dealing with a few loads of wire a month and not pulling in a large quantity, it may be worth using a razor or handheld wire stripper for your copper. While it can be a more tedious job to strip the wire by hand, it can save you money if you aren’t looking to spend a lot on a stripper or don’t collect a bulk amount of material. When using a razor blade for stripping copper wire, be sure to cut away from you and use gloves for safety. Make sure to wear them! We have heard too many stories of people cutting themselves.

Best On-The-Go
CopperMine Handheld Copper Wire Stripper
$34.99 $29.99


  • Easy Adjustable Blade Depth
  • Portable Wire Stripper on the go!
  • Exclusive design constructed from steel, spring compression, plastic hand grips, and steel guide wheel plate.
  • Speed you can get through wires will be slow compared to electric or drill-powered ones.
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07/23/2024 01:41 pm GMT

Scrapping A Few Hundred Pounds Per Month?

Tabletop Wire Stripper: There are several different brands of tabletop strippers you can purchase, or you can be handy and make your own. Either way, there are affordable machines out there you can check out. Also, be sure to check in with some other scrappers to see what kind of products they use, as they could have experience with other brands.

Best Drill-Powered
StripMeister Original Drill-Powered Wire Stripper Machine
$259.00 $142.68

StripMeister Original Drill Powered Automatic Wire Stripper Machine for Stripping Scrap Copper Wire From #18 Gauge to 250MCM Including Romex® Includes Ultra Long Lasting Blade Made From Heat Treated Tool Steel. This wire stripper is a great option if you aren't looking to spend much money but want something convenient with the drill-powered option. The bonus is that this has various insert sizes, especially for those pesky Romex® wire pieces.

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07/23/2024 02:31 pm GMT

Scrapping Over A Thousand Pounds Per Month?

Electric Wire Strippers: If you are dealing with a bulk amount of wire, it could be a good investment for you to save up for a motor-powered stripper for your scrap copper wire. While it may be a bit expensive, you could pay it off with the wire you will be stripping more quickly and efficiently. As we mentioned before, it is a good idea to figure out how much wire and copper you would need to get regularly before buying one. But if you have the material, it will definitely be worth the investment.

Overall Best
CREWORKS Automatic Wire Stripping Machine
$189.99 $169.99

Constructed from solid aerospace-grad aluminum alloy, this wire stripper can withstand rigorous environments and last for years.

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07/23/2024 01:26 pm GMT

*Another Idea: Not sure how much wire you scrap to save up for a stripper? Check back on your old receipts to see your trends and establish a guideline through that information.

Be sure to use the iScrap App to search for the best scrap yards and the current scrap prices in your area.