Valuable Scrap Metals

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If you’re thinking of recycling scrap metal to earn some extra cash or even turn it into a full-time business, knowing which types of scrap metal are the most profitable can definitely help you make the most of your time and see the best return!

In this article, we will cover all the basics on how to determine your profit as well as share a list of which metals are the most valuable and pay the highest when you go to scrap them.

What to Consider When Making a Profit With Scrap Metal

To make sure your scrap metal recycling is profitable, there are a few factors to consider: The value of the metal itself, how easy it is to get, and the time and cost it takes to process the metal.

Is the Metal Easy to Find and Process?

Some metals are extremely rare and pay crazy good rates – but they are also very difficult to extract and process. CPU processor chips pay great – but you have to be able to extract those from old computers and that takes time! You also need to have a source of a lot of them!

Precious metals like gold and silver generally won’t be found too often either – most people do not throw out gold and silver too often!

There is a balance to finding your “sweet spot” – metals that are readily available that you can get easily but are still paying a better rate than ferrous steel and shredder prices.

How Much Time Do You Need to Process the Metal?

While there are a lot of different metals and ways you can make money at the scrapyard, one of the easiest and best ways to make sure you get paid the highest amount possible is to sort all of your scrap metals into different separate piles so they are sorted by type.

If you go to the scrap yard with a pile of different assorted metals in one big pile, you will not be getting the best possible price for your scrap metal!

The sorting and processing of different scrap metals all take time, and that time is something you really need to take into consideration when trying to decide what is profitable.

For us, we found that wire was an awesome source of revenue and they were SO easy to process. Different scrap yards will have different requirements, but all we needed to process them was a good pair of wire cutters and a relatively short amount of time to cut off all the plugs or detach them from whatever they were attached to, such as an old lamp or outdated printer.

Because people are ALWAYS looking to get rid of and recycle old household items and appliances, it was super easy for us to get these things when we ran our junk removal business. People paid us to take them away and we made a profit recycling them for scrap!

But some types of metal are not really profitable or worth the time to really try to process and extract. I’ve seen some crazy videos on YouTube of people doing very expensive, labor-intensive and sometimes even dangerous things to extract the more precious metals. It’s just not worth it!

If you end up in the ER from scrapping something – you don’t want to do that! Ray has enough experience to tell you there a lot of things and types of metals that just aren’t worth going after!

What Are Your Other Costs?

In addition to your time, you also have to factor in other variable costs that are going to influence whether or not you make a profit.

For example, it will cost you a lot in gas to make trips to the scrap yard, especially if you’re driving a large commercial truck! The volume of scrap and the number of trips you make is going to make a big difference in your fuel costs.

You also have to think about tools. While you’ll probably have the basic necessary tools for scrap metal recycling, there are definitely tools that will make your life a heck of a lot easier – but those tools all cost money.

And don’t forget the gloves! I estimate that we probably bought about 2400 pairs of heavy-duty work gloves while running our junk removal business for 10 years – I am not exaggerating, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually a lot more. At our busiest times, it wasn’t unusual for the three of us to go through several pairs a week.

Naturally, you also need to think about your vehicle costs – recycling definitely adds a lot of wear + tear to your vehicle! If you have a car payment, your insurance rates, maintenance and repairs – all those things should be factored in when trying to estimate your costs to calculate a profit.

Now that we’ve factored in the costs + time involved to decide what really makes scrap metal profitable, let’s look at the different types of metals and what you might expect to earn when you take them for recycling.

Some of these¬†different kinds of scrap metals are worth a lot, others not so much – we’ll start with the higher-paying ones first!

What Scrap Metal Is Most Profitable
What Scrap Metal Is Most Profitable?

Most Valuable Types of Scrap Metal

We’ve put together a little list of scrap metal types and a rough idea of which ones will be the most profitable to scrap. Scrap metal prices vary A LOT day to day, so while we can’t give you actual prices that would stay accurate, this will give you a rough idea of how much money you might get when selling the different scrap metal types.

This list shows the most expensive and best paying scrap metals first, to the least valuable types of scrap metal at the bottom.

Please note, the prices on our website are only a very broad, estimated range and are not necessarily what you may earn when you go to the scrapyard. The prices of scrap metal change every single day, as well as vary from different scrapyards and different regions – it all depends on the current supply and demand!

To get the current scrap metal prices, we recommend checking out – this will give you a good idea of what you might expect at your own local scrapyard.

Scrap Metals Paying Over $3 a Pound

These are the most valuable scrap metals, but they are also rarer and harder to come by. The advantage for these metals is that you don’t need a whole lot of them to make a decent profit!

  • CPU Processor Chips: $3-$30/lb.
  • Computer Memory Chips: $3-$7/lb
  • Carbide: $3-$5/lb
  • 9ct Gold Scrap – $450/lb
  • 14ct Gold Scrap – $700/lb.
  • 18ct Gold Scrap – $900/lb.
  • 22ct Gold Scrap – $1000+/lb.
  • Tantalum: $15-$30/lb.
  • Silver: $12-$15/lb.
  • Ferro Molybdenum – $8/lb.
  • Pure Tin: $8/lb.

Scrap Metals Worth Over $2 Per Pound

This is what we consider to be the “sweet spot” for scrap metal recycling and the ones that have been the most profitable for us personally. These metals are not especially rare, but they aren’t exceptionally common either and they do take some extra effort to process and collect.

  • Nickel: $2-$3/lb.
  • Iconel: $1-$3/lb.
  • Bare Bright Wire: $2-$3/lb
  • #1 Insulated Wire: $2-$2.30/lb.
  • #1 Copper: $2 – $3/lb.
  • Tin Solder – $2-$4/lb.
  • Cell Phones Without Battery – $2-$3/lb.
  • Transformer Winding – $2
  • PC Motherboards – $2-$2.50/lb.

Metal Scrap Paying Over One Dollar {$1} Per Pound

These metals are another good one to focus on processing and sorting. Again, they are more common and so you will need more volume – but getting a lot of volume for these metals is usually pretty easy to do!

  • Stainless Steel – $1 – $1.80/lb.
  • Brass: $1 – $2
  • #2 Copper: $1-$1.90/lb
  • Copper Wire: $1 -$1.50/lb
  • Lithium Ion Battery: $1.50/lb.

Worst Paying Scrap Metals Worth Less Than $1 Per Pound

Any scrapper is going to get their fair share of “worthless” scrap metals – and while you can still do pretty well with these if you process a LOT of scrap – the sheer volume can sometimes be exhuasting and difficult to make profitable.

Still, it’s good to recycle these if you’re collecting scrap metal – you’re bound to get this stuff anyways!

  • Lead: $.25-$.75/lb.
  • Zinc: $.25-$.75/lb
  • Electric Motors: $.25-$.30/lb.
  • Alternator: $.50-$.65/lb.
  • Misc. Steel & Iron – $200-$220 PER METRIC TON {2000 lbs}

As you can see, certain metals are rare, and this makes them more valuable. Scrap metal prices tend to vary from region to region. For the most accurate pricing, it is always a good idea to check with your local scrap yard. You can also check out the iscrapapp website, which gives you a nice range of national prices and is updated daily.

This list is by no means meant to be exact – but will give you a rough idea of what metals to keep your eyes out for so you don’t miss the opportunity to get the best possible scrap metal prices!

I hope this article is helpful for you in learning how to make money with scrap metal. If you’re just getting started in recycling, here are some other resources on our site to help you!

Have any questions about which scrap metals are the most profitable? Any scrap metals we may have missed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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