Scrap Your Way to Hundreds

If you’ve ever driven by a junk yard or abandoned lot covered with rusting materials and wondered how you could profit from such a mess, you’re not alone. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people cash in from scrapping used, abandoned or unwanted metals–and for a pretty profit. Here’s how you can get in on the scrapping action and add hundreds of dollars to your bottom line.

Know Your Metals

Sure, scrapping metal could be an exercise fraught with disappointment and dirty hands if you don’t know what you’re doing. But if you take a bit of time to fully investigate the materials at your disposal and properly plan your trip to the salvage yard, you could walk away one very happy person. When you’re preparing for such a transaction, take into consideration how you’ll load and transport the metal, where the locations of your local salvage yards who pay for metal are, and what the going rates are.

You should also understand which metals you’re dealing with. One very easy way to do so is with a magnet test. You’ll want to determine if you have ferrous or non-ferrous metal as the price per pound of each classification varies greatly. All you need to do is take a magnet (yes, you can use the ones on your fridge!) and hold it to the metal. If it sticks, you have a ferrous metal such as iron or steel. While these don’t produce a lot of cash value at the yard, it is possible to reap a small fortune if you’ve amassed enough material.

If your magnet doesn’t stick, you’re looking at the much more lucrative non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass, and bronze. These can fetch upwards of four times the price of iron and steel, so make sure to collect as much of these metals as you can to ensure you’re maximizing your payout.

How to Collect Scrap Metal

When you’re collecting the metals you’d like to scrap for cash, make sure you’re doing so in a legal manner. Due to increased copper thefts from construction sites, the federal government now requires all scrapping transactions of copper (and some other non-ferrous metals) to be documented. Increased security measures means that the salvage yard will not only take a photo of what you turn in, but they’ll attach it to your personal information AND a thumbprint. This is not the time to engage in any illegal or immoral behavior, no matter how tempting that site filled with metals might be.

Because most of the people returning scrap metal for money are contractors and other people in trade businesses, there is a huge push for homeowners to turn in their own scrapped materials. The next time you complete a home renovation, don’t be so quick to discard those old pipes! You may very well be sitting on the scrap that could pay for a portion of your renovation.


Good Luck, Penny Hoarders!