Your First Time Going To A Scrap Yard

scrap metal recycling yard

Have you ever been curious about what happens at a scrap yard? Maybe you’ve seen people pulling up with U-Hauls full of metal and wondered what happens inside. Or perhaps you’re looking to earn extra money by recycling metal and want to know where to take it.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about scrap yards, from what to expect when you visit one for the first time to how to prepare your materials. We’ll also touch on safety, as scrap yards can be dangerous if you’re not careful.

What Is A Scrap Yard?

Let’s start with the basics. A scrap yard is where people take old, broken, or unwanted metal items. These could be anything from an old car to a washing machine that’s seen better days.

The scrap yard will then weigh the metal and pay the person based on weight and type. They will then sell the metal to be melted down, reused, or recycled.

Scrap yards are usually large properties with a lot of open space, as they need room to store all the metal. You may also see some heavy machinery, like excavators or shears, which are used to break down the metal into smaller pieces.

Why would you go to a scrap yard?

Many people visit junkyards for various reasons. Some want to earn extra money by recycling old metal items, while others may try to eliminate a totaled vehicle taking up space in their garage.

Whatever your reason for visiting a scrap yard, you must know what to expect and how to prepare. Keep reading for our guide on visiting a scrap yard for the first time.

What to Expect At Your First Scrap Yard Visit

1. Get Your Materials Together

The first thing you need to do is gather up all the metal items you want to recycle. This could be anything from an old car to a washing machine that’s seen better days.

If you’re scrapping a lot of metal, that can be easier said than done. You might need to rent a truck or trailer to haul everything. Just be sure that your vehicle can handle the weight of the metal.

Other items people often scrap include:

You can usually find most of these items around your house or in your garage and flip them for extra coins.

2. Sort & Separate Your Materials

Next, you’ll want to sort your metal by type. This is important because different types of metal are worth different amounts of money. For example, aluminum is worth less than steel.

Must-Read: How To Separate Your Copper Scrap for Recycling

If you’re curious about metal prices, check the iScrap App or website. You can check live scrap prices before heading to the scrap yard. You can also use the app to find new types of scrap and learn more about recycling.

You don’t need to get too detailed with your sorting. Just grouping things by type should be enough. The scrap yard will do a more thorough sorting when they weigh your metal.

3. Arriving at the Location and On Time!

The next thing you’ll need to do is find the right place. Most junkyards will have large signage that’s easy to spot from the road. If you’re still having trouble finding the establishment, use an app like iScrap App for iPhone or Android devices to locate the nearest scrap yard.

Once you’ve found the scrap yard, drive onto the property and park in the designated area. You might need to wait in line to be helped, so be patient. Pedestrians may also be walking around, so be aware of your surroundings.

When it’s your turn, the scrap yard employee will ask you what metal you have. They may also ask how much you have and if you plan on recycling any other materials.

If you have called ahead and told a yard that you would be there at “XYZ” time, then make sure you honor that time. The last thing you want to do and try to get on the good side of your yard is show up 30 minutes before they close with a boatload of material that needs to be sorted and weighed!

4. Wait for Your Turn and Be Respectful

After you’ve uploaded your metal, the next step is to wait for your turn on the scale. Depending on the size of the scrap yard, this could take a few minutes or hours. Different types of scrap yards use different scales. The most common is the drive-on scale. This is where you drive your vehicle onto a large scale and wait for the weight to be calculated.

Other scrap yards may have a walk-on scale, usually only for smaller loads. It’s important to know which scrap yard has which type of scale so you can plan accordingly. Not all yards accept small loads, so check ahead of time.

Once your metal has been weighed, the scrap yard employee will give you a ticket with the weight and price and let you know where to receive your payment.

One thing that will not make you popular at the scrap yard is arguing with staff, so make sure you are both in agreement about what material you have brought and how much you indeed have. As always, common decency and respect can go a long way. If this is a yard you want to get to know, the more respectful and organized you are, the difference in a few months/years when it comes to a discount here or a dirty unit there.

5. Getting Paid! Making Sure Not To Haggle

Finally, it’s time to get paid for your scrap metal! Most yards will pay you in cash, but some may offer a check based on local laws. The amount will be based on the current market value of the metal.


The price can fluctuate daily and sometimes even hourly, so it’s essential to check the current prices before scrapping. You can find the current scrap prices on the iScrap App or website. We update our prices daily, so you know you’re getting the most money for your metal.

Your yard won’t take too kindly to you haggling on prices once everything has been weighed up.

You may need to show your ID or complete paperwork before you’re paid. This measure is usually only required if you’re scrapping a large amount of metal.

Once you’ve been paid, you’re free to leave the scrap yard. Just be sure to drive safely and watch for pedestrians. And that’s it! You’ve now successfully recycled your scrap metal. Congratulations on the extra cash!

Safety Guidelines at Scrap Yards

Now that you know what to expect from your first scrap yard visit, let’s review the unexpected. It would be an understatement to say that a scrap yard isn’t a place for kids. They are full of metal and machinery, which can be pretty dangerous.

That’s why always be aware of your surroundings and follow the safety guidelines the scrap yard sets. Although each junkyard will have its policies, here are some general guidelines to follow:

Protect your Vehicle

As soon as the gates open, drive slowly and carefully. This will help you avoid potholes or obstacles on the road, such as nails, broken glass, and other sharp objects that can damage your vehicle.

And if you have a low-riding car, be extra careful. You don’t want to scrape the bottom of your vehicle on a piece of metal. Once you’ve found a parking spot, turn off your engine and remove the key from the ignition. This will prevent anyone from stealing your car while you’re gone.

Avoid the Equipment Area

Most scrap yards have a designated area for heavy machinery. It’s usually where the excavators, shears, and other large equipment are located.

You should avoid this area for two reasons. First, it can be dangerous to walk around there if any machines operate. Second, the noise from the machinery can be loud and overwhelming. It won’t be easy to hear if you need to communicate or negotiate with someone.

This should go without saying, but never operate the machinery yourself—not even to move it out of the way or take a selfie. Let the professionals handle it. The area is hard to miss because it’s usually fenced off or has a sign that says “Danger: Do Not Enter.”

If you’re ever unsure, you can ask a scrap yard employee.

Don’t Touch the Metal

It might seem tempting to touch or move the scrap metal around, but resisting the urge is essential. First of all, it’s dangerous. The metal could be heavy, sharp, or contain toxins that can harm your skin. Second, you could damage the metal, which would decrease its value.

If you need to move a piece of scrap metal, ask a scrap yard employee for help. They have the tools and experience to do it safely.

Watch for Vehicles

The scrap yard is full of cars, trucks, and other vehicles, so it’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings. If you’re walking, look both ways before crossing the road. Watch for cars backing up, driving around piles of metal, and turning corners.

Cars should yield to pedestrians, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Forklifts are also a common sight in scrap yards. They’re used for moving large pieces of metal, which can be dangerous if you’re not paying attention.

Again, the best thing you can do is stay aware of your surroundings. If you see a forklift coming, move out of the way and let it pass.

Wear Protective Gear

Wearing protective gear might be a good idea if you are in the scrap yard for a while. An essential piece of equipment is a pair of gloves. This will protect your hands from cuts, scrapes, and toxic chemicals.

You should also wear closed-toed shoes if you step on a sharp object. Steel-toe boots are nearly always mandatory if you work at the scrap yard. Some people wear a face mask to avoid breathing in dust or toxins.

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Finally, it’s always a good idea to dress for the weather. Scrap yards can be hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Wear layers that you can take off or put on as needed. Remember, you might have to wait for some time, so comfort is necessary.

Follow the rules

Each scrap yard has its own set of rules and regulations. Be sure to follow them to avoid getting hurt or in trouble. Some of the most common practices are listed below:

  • No smoking
  • No open flames
  • No weapons
  • No drugs or alcohol
  • No trespassing
  • No loitering
  • Keep the noise down
  • Respect the employees
  • Clean up after yourself

Pay attention to the signage

Most scrap yards will have signage posted around the property. These signs usually tell you where to go, what to do, and what not to do. For example, a sign might say “Scales this way” with an arrow pointing in the right direction.

Signage is vital because it helps keep everything flowing smoothly. It also helps to avoid accidents.

Using iScrap App

Whether you’re new to the scrap world or an experienced full-timer, we recommend using the iScrap App. 

To use the iScrap App, enter your zip code or city into the search bar on the homepage. We will bring up a list of scrap yards in your area. You can click on each listing for more information about that scrap yard. This is where you’ll find the contact information, hours of operation, and accepted materials.

Our platform also allows users to leave reviews of scrap yards, which can be helpful when deciding which scrap yard to use.

Find Scrap Metal Prices

As mentioned earlier, scrap metal prices can fluctuate. The best way to get an accurate price is with iScrap. You can use our platform to check your area’s current scrap metal prices.

The prices on our site are based on the going rate for that specific type of metal. They’re updated regularly, so you can ensure you’re getting the most accurate information possible. Remember that the price at the scrap yard might differ from the one listed on our site because each scrap yard sets its prices.

Scrapyard Ettiquete Is Essential!

Scrapping metal can be a great way to make some extra money. But it’s essential to do it safely. We hope this guide has been helpful and you’ve learned about scrap yards.

Before your first visit, remember the basics:

  • Dress appropriately
  • Follow the rules and signage
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.

With these tips, you’ll have a safe and successful trip to the scrap yard. Use the iScrap App to find a scrap yard and start your scrap metal journey!

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