When scouring your garage or workshop, it’s common to stumble upon a pile of copper that’s seen better days. It’s green, it’s corroded, and you wonder, “Will scrap yards buy this?” The answer lies in the level of oxidation your copper has endured.
The short answer is…well…that it depends. If you need a more meaningful answer, we will dive into the intricacies of selling oxidized copper and discussing scrap yards’ acceptance policies.
We also have a video below for our visual learners to accompany this.
Why Does Copper Turn Green?
Before diving into the cleaning process, let’s understand why scrap yards might hesitate to accept green or corroded copper.
The oxidation level could significantly impact the metal’s purity and, consequently, its market value.
Copper oxidation occurs over time as the metal reacts with moisture and air. While some tarnish is expected, there are a few ways in which your copper can be downgraded.
Green Copper Tubing vs. Bare Bright
Typically, most yards will accept green copper as #1 copper tubing. However, if they start to see paint, brass or plastic ends, solder, or other assorted fittings on your tubing, you will definitely get downgraded probably to a #2 copper tubing price.
With Bare Bright, yards rarely accept oxidized material, but the reasons for it differ. The issue lies with larger buyers and mills who may not want it with it’s green color. This could be because of the loss of material after milling due to oxidation.
If you are unsure what your local yard will accept, it’s always best to call them.
Can You Clean Green Off Copper Scrap?
If your yard is picky about the type of copper and the level of corrosion they accept, all hope is not lost. Removing surface-level corrosion with some standard household chemicals is fairly simple.
That being said, always be sure to use any required safety equipment to avoid accidental injuries. Whether you opt for the vinegar and baking soda method or the more potent muriatic acid solution, the goal is to remove the corrosion and present your yard with a clean metal.
Please note: Use the proper safety equipment and precautions when working with materials.
Using Vinegar To Clean Green Copper:
- Preparing the Surface: Confirm that your item is pure copper by checking its reaction to a magnet.
- Soaking: Immerse the copper in a 5-gallon bucket filled with vinegar for 6-10 hours, monitoring until corrosion is eliminated.
- Neutralizing: After rinsing with water, neutralize any remaining vinegar residue by soaking in a bucket of baking soda and water for a few minutes.
Using Muriatic Acid to Clean Green Copper:
- Safety First: Equip yourself with protective gear – goggles and rubber gloves – and work in a well-ventilated area.
- Soaking: Submerge the copper in muriatic acid for approximately 1 hour, allowing the acid to react with and remove oxidized material.
- Rinsing: Thoroughly rinse the copper with water after the acid treatment to ensure the removal of any lingering residue.