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 a lot of scrappers want to know the best ways to make more money from their copper and wire. Some basic 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 put together some tips and resources on stripping your copper wire for scrap.

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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 are going to be pulling in on a regular basis and if an investment like that is going to 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 some money we have some simple solutions for stripping scrap wire. We are going to start with the basic methods of stripping wire and provide more efficient solutions for stripping your copper wire.

Different Scrap Wire Stripping Solutions:

  • NO BURNING: First and foremost, we would like to reiterate that you should NEVER under any circumstances “burn” your copper wire to remove the insulation. Not only does it harm the environment from the fumes, but it will downgrade your copper at the scrap yard. Often times people think it is a quick and easy way to remove the insulation is to burn it. But the residue that is leftover from burning will downgrade it at most scrap yards.
  • Use The Sun: While you shouldn’t be burning the wires you are looking 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 easier 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 a tabletop one, be sure to get familiar with the machine before you use it. If you bought a stripper, read the directions on how to strip different types and sizes of wires before you start using it. It is a good idea to know ahead, so you can work efficiently. It is a good idea to have separate containers for you to collect the insulation waste while you are stripping your wire to cut down on loose garbage.

What Methods To Strip Scrap Copper Wire:

We suggest figuring out what kind of intake of materials you are bringing in for scrap copper wire. Once you have a good idea of how much material you will be bringing in, it is easier for you to figure out what the best solution for stripping your copper wire will be. Remember we suggest stripping wire that is thicker than your pinky finger or sometimes the size of a pen.

Less Than 100 Pounds Per Month

Razor or Handheld Tool: When you are dealing with a few loads of wire a month and not pulling in a large quantity, it may be worth it to just use 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 gloves, we have heard too many stories of people cutting themselves.

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.

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 would be able to pay it off with the wire you are going to be stripping more quickly and efficiently. Just like we mentioned before it is a good idea to figure out how much wire and copper you would need to get on a regular basis before you go buy one of these. But if you have the material, it will definitely be worth the investment.

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

Remember you can always discuss ways to strip copper wire on the iScrap Facebook Group and get more information from fellow scrappers. Be sure to use the iScrap App to search for the best scrap yard and for the current scrap prices in your area.

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