What Wires Are Worth Stripping For?

We have written about what to, and what not to strip. It still 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 this is what we have come up with.  We took all of the comments, pieces of advice, and knowledge of copper wire recoveries and we came up with a list of the most common wires and whether or not to strip them.

Common Wire You Will Scrap

  1. 500MCM or Bigger – No brainer to strip this material. Generally, a 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 being made out of aluminum instead of copper to keep the costs down, so do not be surprised if the material feels lighter than normal.
  3. THHN (Spaghetti Wire) – This is generally the wire that you will find inside of 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 talked about how to strip different types of copper in the past, but having a machine or a tool for the smaller and thinner material is always best. We have seen that the smaller stripping tools that are out there are much better than doing it by hand. You just have to make sure that your supply will be able to pay the machine off.
  4. Romex ® – This is another type of material (also commonly known as housewire), that scrappers talk about stripping all of the time. A few thoughts on this; make sure that the ground wire is copper and not aluminum, this will ensure that you get three pieces of copper wire after stripping it out. Using a stripping tool is worth the time and is essential to be able to make this hard work pay off.
  5. CAT 5/6 – We highly recommend NOT stripping computer wire, cat 5, or any type of 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 large price tag as well as the large amount of power required to power them).

With so many different grades of wire out there it really is not easy to know what is a good idea to strip or not. We have tried stripping many grades and the larger it is, the easier, 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 how you clean your wire (or any type of scrap),  so just let us know!

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