An Introduction To Scrap Copper

Scrap metal recycling is a popular hobby that is good for the environment and also potentially very rewarding for the scrap collector. Copper is one of the most valuable metals in the scrap industry because its durability and electrical conductivity give it a versatile range of uses. This guide will serve as an introduction to scrap copper for scrappers who are just getting started with collecting this unique metal.

Discerning Copper From Brass

Separating your scrap metal carefully is important because recycling centers value your scrap based on the least valuable metal in the container you provided. Brass is another common scrap metal with a color and luster that is similar to copper, but it is significantly less valuable. The first and most essential step in scrap collecting is identifying your metals correctly.

The best way to tell copper and brass apart is to look for the redness in color that is only present in copper. A reddish-brown tint is a hallmark of copper, while brass is closer in hue to gold. Another reliable differentiator is that brass tends to maintain a cleaner and clearer surface, while copper develops a patina with a greenish hue over time.

Sources of Scrap Copper

Copper is a highly sought-after scrap metal, so you won't find it lying around just anywhere. Electronics are some of the most obvious sources of scrap copper, and many people have a broken-down computer or tablet gathering dust in their homes. Copper is also a traditional metal for plumbing pipes, so remember to keep an eye out for copper after pipe replacements.

Separating Scrap Copper

Paint, solder, and oxidation or rust are the most common contaminants found in scrap copper. Copper contaminated with these materials or others such as brass, steel, and plastic cannot be recycled until the copper is separated from these contaminants.

If you are scrapping copper pipe, the simplest approach is to use a reciprocating saw or hacksaw to cut off any sections with excessive amounts of paint or oxidization, as well as any soldered joints or brass fittings. Heavy-grit sandpaper may be an alternative solution to remove paint and oxidation in some cases.

Copper is a valuable scrap metal if you are diligent about separating and cleaning it properly. Contact your local scrap yards for more information about scrap copper and to find out more about the specific types and grades of copper scrap they will accept.