Top 25 Most Common Scrap Metals

Which Scrap Metals Made The List? 

We love scrap metal. “Who doesn’t?” is the real question, but we continuously hear questions about different examples of scrap metals and the best ones to scrap. Well, in our mind, any scrap metal is the best one to scrap, but then it gets to the question of the availability of the metals, where to find them, what the prices are, and the list goes on and on.

We have talked to scrappers, visited scrap yards, and read social media comments. This list is a result of all those things. You could debate on the order, or maybe we are missing something; yes, of course, but overall, this list is as comprehensive as possible.

So we decided to go over and make a list of the 25 most common metals that get scrapped at all of the different scrap yards. You will come across these common metals when recycling and most scrap yards accept them for recycling.

Common Examples of Scrap Metal:

Insulated Copper Wire

It is one of the most common items you can find. Typically found in most appliances, internet and computer cords, and even construction sites. Because of its uses, it’s primarily found in tech and commercial applications. Depending on the gauge and how much you have will determine whether it’s worth to strip.

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#2 Copper Tubing

Very commonly used in home renovation as it is the standard for the plumbing industry, you can very often find this metal used on construction sites for new homes and developments. Check your bathroom out to see how much you really have! Keep a pipe cutter handy so you can clean up any #2 tubing and get #1 tubing prices.

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Sheet Aluminum

Keep a magnet handy to catch if you have this metal or something else. This metal can be found anywhere in your home, from appliances to siding. Famous for its lightweight and resilience to the elements, it’s used in every industry from automotive to household to medical.

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Light Iron

This metal can encompass multiple types of steel, and as a result, most of the scrap you will find will be a light iron mix. Examples include old bicycle frames, pieces from an old A/C unit, and even appliances. You will often see it as a thin-gauged material.

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Aluminum Cans

We see these nearly every day in our lives, most commonly in the food and drink industry. Whether looking at beer and soda cans or canned foods, these materials can quickly add up if you make a large enough haul. Always be sure to check with your yard if they scrap these and what their requirements are for cleaning.

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Cast Iron

Cast Iron can come from many different places, and you must check with your scrap yard before you mix anything with it. Commonly found in piping and old cookware, fireplaces, and sinks, this material will typically appear very rusty as it can oxidize quite fast.

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Bare Bright Wire

Every scrapper’s dream! Primarily found in construction and tear-out jobs when dismantling buildings and can be found in items like THHN and Romex®. Make sure to take a careful look at your material and see what the easiest way to strip your wire will be.

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Electric Motors

Usually, these aren’t hard to find, considering that almost everything electric has one. Taking out the copper electric motor in home appliances that are no longer in use can benefit you and your wallet. If you know a company that is dismantling any A/C units or generators, you can probably snag a bunch of these units pretty easily.

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Scrap Cars

If you know or work adjacent to the auto industry, you know how much metal and other precious metals are inside our vehicles. The best part is there is always someone looking to scrap an old vehicle that is no longer working. So make sure to keep your ear to the ground to try and find people who are junking old cars. Contact your scrap yard to know what paperwork they may require.

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Plumbing Brass

The most prominent examples are probably pipe and tap fittings in our homes. Still, this metal can also be found in other decorative and functional applications, especially when chrome-plated, as it’s highly corrosion-resistant.

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Car Batteries

As the world shifts to electric vehicles, we may see these dwindling, but these batteries still have their place in the scrap industry and are commonly recycled. Be sure to check and make sure that the batteries you have are lead-acid, as many yards only take certain types.

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Sealed Units

Also known as compressors, these are found in a variety of items you can find around your house, such as A/C units, refrigerators, and most other types of appliances that keep things cold. Ensure all the oil is drained out of these units before scrapping. Some yards will even pay you for the oil that is drained as well.

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As the name suggests, these are found in nearly every household and, as such, have many scrap metals inside them, depending on the unit. Always check your neighborhood for items either left on the curb or listed for cheap/free on your local marketplace. Popular appliances are washers/dryers, fridges/freezers, etc.

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Stainless Steel (Non-Magnetic)

Found in lots of residential and larger-scale construction, this material is nearly always in use. This metal pops up quite frequently in sinks, medical utensils, grills, or other kitchen appliances. Prices for non-magnetic steel will vary, so follow up with your local yard.

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Computer Wire

If you take apart computers frequently and/or are diligent about sorting your materials when removing them, this type of wire will be one you see pretty often. Various types and sizes inside a computer will be graded differently. Keep your wire stripper nearby, and be sure to separate them to get the best prices. Examples include Cat 5 wires, HDMI cables, Power cords, and Power Supply Wires.

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Aluminum Siding

Roofing companies often come across aluminum siding and gutters for scrap after an installation or damage to a home. Make sure to test your siding with a magnet, as occasionally, siding can be made of steel. If you have any aluminum scrap lying around your house, be sure to collect it and bring it to the closest scrap yard in your area.

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This is used in many different items, from piping to wheel weights. You can find this scrap in older household items such as old subflooring and pipes. It is also found in construction yards and even at gun ranges nationwide.

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Aluminum Car/Truck Rims

Aluminum rims are everywhere, not just on cars or trucks. Many off-road vehicles, scooters, motorcycles, and even some lawnmowers will have aluminum rims that you can scrap. Always make sure to take the tires off!

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Unprepared HMS

Found on construction sites but will typically fetch a lower price than #1 HMS, typically due to contaminants that the Unprepared may have. This grade of iron will be items that will be much heavier and thicker, and their purpose was probably to hold more substantial things up.

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Aluminum/Copper Radiators (From AC’s)

This can be found in many different types of machinery and can often end up being some of the larger units you will scrap. Typically found in air conditioners or chilling units in many industries, ACRs are the units that will help circulate the freon or other oil material inside and help push out the colder air.

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Scrap Electronics

Scrap electronics are another incredibly common item around the house. It is one that our world has become ever-reliant on. When it breaks, our first thought is to throw it out, but most of the material can be scrapped, and you can recoup some of the money you spent on these items. DVD Players, cameras, old cell phones, and so much more house trace amounts of copper, transformers, low-grade boards, etc.

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Cast Aluminum

Generally formed in factory molds, some examples of cast are engine blocks, cast grills, and other vehicle parts. Another common place to find cast aluminum is old patio furniture. Just make sure to remove any plastic material from it.

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Also known as “10-14 gauge wire” or “spaghetti wire,” this type of wire is solid copper inside. You should always try to strip this wire as you will make more money scraping it this way. Most electricians will find this wire while on the job, so checking out the waste and leftovers from residential and commercial construction would be an excellent place to start if you’re looking for scrap wire. If you score a large enough amount, you should consider investing in an automatic stripper to save time.

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Heavily variable in terms of size and price, these units are used to power devices like computers, communication centers, and more. Depending on the current capacity of the specific unit, the amount of copper or other metals you find inside may vary.

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Copper Scrap

Lastly, there are so many different types of copper that might not necessarily be listed in the units above, and your particular yard may have a different naming and grading convention than another yard. Generally, you can find copper scrap in tubing, roofing, and home renovation materials. But copper scrap can also consist of wire, bus bars, and other smaller cables.

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To Recap The Scrap…

While many other metals are scrapped daily, we went through lists we have had, talked with scrappers, and looked at so many comments received through social media outlets.

While most people consider the price of metals the most popular, that doesn’t hold for the amount of weight that is actually scrapped (thus the popularity) at different scrap yards.

We said that the most commonly scrapped metal is insulated copper wire because there are many varieties. Many people will argue that the number one metal that is scrapped has to be steel or some iron, but we think that the weight of an item doesn’t make it the most common to all scrappers. Some scrappers don’t have pick-up trucks or trailers, but they come across many types of copper wires.

Think about it: where can you find copper wire? Everywhere! From power cords to phone cords, different copper wires run inside computers, walls of houses, under roads, above roads, and even under rivers and oceans! This is one of the most commonly used and popular items (not to mention necessary items) to make all communications and electricity run worldwide!

Let us know what you think and your favorite or most popular scrap metal you rely on selling.

Scrap ya later!