Scrap metal might be the last thing you thought would make you money, but it can be lucrative enough to get you those extra bucks you need. You can find scrap metal literally everywhere, although the quantity might not be enough to use as a side hustle.
However, when you establish a source and get all the needed tools, you can be sure to earn steadily. Basically, you pick up scrap metals, sort them according to the types, clean them, and get them to a scrap yard where they sort and recycle the metals.
And you get paid depending on the type and weight of the metals you bring.
The key to earning well-selling scrap metal is to have a high quantity supplier and supply more high-paying metals.
What Are Scrap Metals?
Scrap metals are small pieces of recyclable metal left over from manufacturing or overuse, and they could also be damaged parts of buildings or household equipment. Since scrap metals are recyclable, companies are willing to pay people to look for scrap yards they can recycle to make new products.
And you can easily make small bucks selling scrap metal around you.
Scrap metals range from vehicle parts to household equipment and building materials.
How and Where To Find Scrap Metals?
To sell scrap metal and make money, you need to know where to get high-quality metals to sell. Here are some places to get free metal to sell:
- At home
Most of your unused electrical appliances and equipment are made of metal, and you can quickly get extra bucks when you take them to a scrap yard. You can use your old cookware, faulty lawnmower, and even soda cans.
It will not be comparable to the original price, but make sure to know the worth of what you bring because they will always try to beat you down.
- Garbage days
Check your local site or ask around for pickup days. You should go a day before and sort through junk people want to throw away. Make sure to wear protective gear because you don’t want to get in contact with germs.
- Real estate agents
If you have a real estate agency or a friend who works in real estate, you can ask to be notified when previous owners leave things behind when they move. If you sort through it, you might be able to get a high-quality metal to sell.
- Local businesses & stores
Check out local furniture and electrical stores around your neighborhood. You can also visit the local muffler’s shop for different metals. Try to negotiate with the store owners.
You can check on Craigslist for free stuff, and if you get lucky, you might see some bit of scrap metal to sell.
What Kind of Metal Can You Scrap? Plus Examples
There are different types of metal, and you can literally scrap any for extra cash, but the prices vary with the type. Some metals are considered low quality and worth less, while others, like copper, are worth much more.
These are common lightweight metals that are usually silver or white. Soda cans are made of aluminum, and so are some kitchen wares; they cost less because they are non-ferrous metals.
Brass is a metal alloy made of zinc and copper with a yellow color and is usually heavy. It is a good material for making musical instruments, doorknobs, light fixtures, etc. They cost more but not as much as copper.
Copper is the best scrap metal to sell because it costs more than the average metal. It is a ferrous metal that is reddish or brown and can be found in refrigerating units and pipes. There are also copper wires that cost more than aluminum.
Lead is a weighty metal and is usually used to make pipes. You can find lead in batteries and cable sheaths; it costs more than steel, iron, and aluminum cans.
You can differentiate steel from stainless steel because it is capable of attracting a magnet. You can find steel at construction sites.
Iron is the cheapest metal because it is the most common, and you can find them everywhere.
What Is a Scrap Yard, and How Do They Work?
Scrap yards are metal junk yards that turn waste metals to scrap for recycling. Companies buy scrap metals from scrap yards in large quantities so they can recycle and use them to make new products.
When you go to a scrap yard to sell your collected metals, they will weigh the metal to discover how much they are worth. After this, you will receive a receipt to cash out on the amount.
The method of cash out varies with the scrap yard.
How To Find a Scrap Yard
You can use different tools and sites to find a scrap yard around you, but my best pick would be Google Maps—easy and efficient. All you need to do is to type in the phrase ‘scrap yards near me,’ and you get to see the available scrap yards within your vicinity.
How To Make Money From Scrap Metals
Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of the scrap metals collections:
- Get necessary equipment.
Get the necessary equipment to use, from the big ones like a truck to pick up metals to small equipment like magnets. If you want to sell scrap metal, you should do it right.
- Find a place to get scrap metals.
Earlier in this post, I listed some of the best ways to pick up metals. You can try out local stores, Craigslist, real estate agents, and even some of your old appliances.
Weigh each of the options and choose the one that best suits you.
- Clean them up.
Some of the metals are dirty, stained, and rusted. When you get them, it is usually best to clean them up to make them presentable.
- Sort the scrap metals.
It is crucial to sort out the metals into groups; this is where your equipment comes in handy. Use a magnet to separate steel from stainless steel. You can also use color to differentiate the different types of metals.
If you don't sort your metals, the scrap yard might price everything the same even though some metals are costlier than others.
- Transport them.
Take the sorted metals to the scrap yard in good condition.
- Set your prices.
Set your prices before getting to the yard so you don't get cheated. Make sure your price is higher than you want. It helps in case they haggle the price down.
- Stock up.
Don't take a few products to change for money. Instead, stock up on metals, and you can decide to sell when you've accumulated enough.
- Select high-quality metals.
As much as it's easier to see aluminum cans and products, you don't want the metals to be primarily that because it will seem like a waste of time.
Imagine selling 100 aluminum cans for barely $50?! Combine high-quality metals with common ones.
How Much Can I Make From Scrapping Metals?
Depending on how often you can get high-quality metals, keep in mind that ferrous metals, although they cost more, are not as common as non-ferrous metals.
But, you can easily make at least $100 monthly selling scrap metals.
If you are looking for a way to earn fast and quick cash, you might want to consider other options besides selling scrap metal because the process takes a while compared to selling on Etsy or exchanging receipts and gift cards for cash.
Selling scrap metal will also not give you a sustainable income, so there are still some cons to the business.
Is selling scrap metal something you might want to consider? How many scrap yards do you have around you?
Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.