Every month the iScrap App is going to be featuring a Metal of the Month. We are going to be exploring the various metals or materials based on their history, how to find them, how to recycle them, and how to make the most money on them. To start off the new series, what better metal to start with than COPPER. This month we explore some of the ways you can find copper and also sort it when scrapping.
What is Copper?
Copper is a chemical element, a reddish, extremely ductile (able to be drawn out into a thin wire) metal. It is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat.
Where does copper come from?
Copper is found in the free metallic state in nature. First used in 8000 BCE, it was a substitute for stone by New Stone Age humans. The Roman supply of copper came almost entirely from Cyprus, known as Cyprium, “metal of Cyprus.” Most copper occurs in ores and must be smelted or extracted from its ore for purity before it can be used. About 2/3 of the copper on Earth is found in igneous (volcanic) rocks, and one 1/4 occurs in sedimentary rocks.
How easy it to recycle copper?
It is important to recycle copper because it is a finite resource like all-natural resources are. Copper is 100% recyclable, so it is fairly easy. It’s more cost-effective to recycle old copper than to mine and extract new copper
3 Simple Ways to Recycle Copper – The 3 R’s
- Reduce: Copper products are hard-wearing and long-lasting, so they do not require replacement often, so use as long as possible to reduce the need for it.
- Reuse: Copper products like mobile phones, washing machines, and cookers that are in good working condition can be sold second-hand.
- Recycle: Gather, dismantle, and sort your copper, and sell as scrap! $$$
Where are common places copper can be found?
There are several places you can find copper scrap, but there are some more common places that you can guarantee to find copper when working on various projects like below:
- Remodeling/demo sites – Copper comes from plumbing and electricity, so if you are remodeling anything like that, there will be copper.
- Household plumbing – While some pipes are being replaced with plastic these days, there is still a lot of copper piping needed for plumbing.
- Copper statues/decor – Who knows how some people may be decorating.
- Roofing copper – These are often covered in black tar, so don’t be surprised if your scrap yard pays a lower price.
- Kitchen copper – Pots and pans are sometimes made from copper. While you can scrap it, we recommend saving them or trying to resell them.
- Copper wire – Almost every wire/cable you see will have copper inside.
- TVs and Monitors – Cords are powering them, which will have copper.
- Inside electronics – cell phones, cameras, handheld games
- Computers – Power supplies will have wires that can be scrapped.
- Large appliances – fridges, freezers, dryers, washing machines, dishwashers
- Extension cords – You will be paid a lower copper wire price from your scrap yard.
- Small appliances – coffee makers, AC units, fans, blenders, toasters
Most Common Types of Copper Scrap
Below we have the common types of copper you will come across from scrapping. You should know the basics of what they look like and how you should sort them based on scrap yards buy them.
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Bare Bright or #1 Copper Wire
Most common, highly valued
Clean and solid copper wire
Recommended: How-To: Strip Copper Wire for Scrap
#1 Copper Tubing/Flashing/Bus Bar
Clean of any impurities like brass fittings, steel, plastics, or tin solder.
#2 Copper Tubing
Leftover from #1 Copper
May have paint, tin solder, or brass fittings attached
#3 Copper/Roofing Copper
Valued lower because of tar and/or paint on it
Insulated Copper Wire & Cable
Stripping it will make it bare bright, but needs to be worth the time
Tips for making the most money from copper scrap?
Separate the different copper groupings. Larger hauls of copper leave you with more room to negotiate a higher price per pound.
PRO TIP: When it comes to stripping wire for copper, know which ones are worth your time: we suggest any wire larger than your pinky finger would be a good gauge on whether to take the time and strip.