What Wires Are Worth Stripping?

We have written about what to do and what not to strip. It continues to be a hot topic. We have talked to all types of scrappers to get different opinions on what is too thin to strip, and we have come up with this. We took all of the comments, advice, and knowledge of copper wire recoveries and came up with a list of the most common wires and whether or not to strip them.

Overall Best
CREWORKS Automatic Wire Stripping Machine
$189.99

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

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07/20/2024 01:11 pm GMT

Common Forms Of Scrap Copper Wire:

  1. 500MCM or Bigger – No brainer to strip this material. Generally, there is bare bright inside, and with only one jacket, it tends to be a scrapper’s paradise. A few ways to strip would include laying in the sun during warm months and using a razor blade or a knife (while wearing gloves, of course) or even buying a stripper. Here is one that we have heard people like to use.
  2. 250-500MCM Cabling – Again…this tends to be a single jacketed piece of cable that is relatively easy to strip as well and yields a good return on the bare bright inside. Since 2010, we have seen more and more of this type of wire made out of aluminum instead of copper to keep the costs down, so do not be surprised if the material feels lighter than expected.
  3. THHN (Spaghetti Wire) – This is generally the wire you will find inside steel or aluminum BX and is called spaghetti wire by many electricians. One thing that you have to keep in mind while stripping is the amount of time that it is going to take. We have previously discussed how to strip different types of copper, but having a machine or tool for the smaller and thinner material is always best. We have seen that the smaller stripping tools are much better than doing it by hand. You have to make sure that your supply will be able to pay the machine off.
  4. Romex ® – This is another material (also commonly known as housewire) that scrappers always talk about stripping. A few thoughts: make sure that the ground wire is copper and not aluminum; this will ensure you get three pieces of copper wire after stripping it. Using a stripping tool is worth the time and is essential to making this hard work pay off.
  5. CAT 5/6 – We highly recommend NOT stripping computer wire, CAT 5, or any telephone/data wire. This material is most commonly put through a shredder and wire chopping systems (and those are not generally for sale to homeowners due to the hefty price tag and the large amount of power required to power them).

With so many different grades of wire out there, it is not easy to know whether to strip or not is a good idea. We have tried stripping many grades, and the larger it is, the more accessible, but even then, you have to check with your local yards.

We have heard some stories of scrap yards that will pay a very high price for insulated cable, and when that happens, they may be able to make it worth your time to sell as-is. Let us know what you think about the different grades of wire and what is and is not worth stripping. We love hearing new ideas on cleaning your wire (or any scrap),  so just let us know!

Klein Tools Wire Stripper
$39.86 $33.61

Model no. K12065CR

  • Wire Stripper / Cutter / Crimper
  • For 8-18 AWG solid, 10-20 AWG stranded
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07/20/2024 01:11 pm GMT

*Romex® is a branded product by Southwire and other non-metallic sheathed wire.