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A Few Odd Metal Objects You Can Recycle for Cash

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How to recycle metal for money

How to recycle metal for money

Abandoned Televisions Are Loaded

I never thought about taking a television apart until I started to recycle metal. Inside, there is a sizable coil of copper wire near the cathode ray tube. There are stainless steel clamps, sometimes brass screws, circuit boards containing solder, wire, silver, aluminum, and even a small amount of gold.

But certainly, you need to be careful of how you dispose of the picture tube and particularly aware of how easy it can be for that tube to explode. I suggest watching the video below.

This kind of discovery gets you thinking about other storehouses of metal and recycled material. We only recycle about 30% of the metal we use for fabrication. Not only are there copious amounts of metal, but there is a myriad of objects made from metal. The serious recycler will frequently daydream about all the possibilities.

Here are some ideas to help you reflect.

"Brass has a very distinctive sound. It's delicate but powerful, but it's also melancholic and plaintive."

— Johann Johannsson

Put a Little Zip in Your Collection

If you are a gardener and drink coffee, you may save your grounds to fertilize your yard plants. And, if you live with multiple coffee addicts like me, you are surprised at how fast your grounds container will fill up. In much the same way, a conveniently located container designated for brass at the home can fill up quickly also. One suggestion for unconventional metal salvage is brass zippers.

Various denim brands of clothing feature brass zippers and buttons.

Various denim brands of clothing feature brass zippers and buttons.

Frugal With Your Pants

Those of us who do a lot of dirty work outside often wear out our pants. When they are perforated beyond redemption, my wife cuts them up into rags for use on the automobile cleanup. But she also saves the brass zippers from my khakis and brass buttons from Levis. As I have alluded to before, it isn't much, but it is easy to save—cutting zippers out may be a bit more difficult. You can easily do a rough cut and then burn off the material hanging on. Dampen the cloth with lighter fluid, place it in a can in your barbecue, and throw a match in. It quickly burns the cloth off and will not discolor the brass much if you don't get fluid on the metal. Take all the precautions you would take if you were barbecuing outside.

Brass buttons from the uniform of a Danish World War I artillery lieutenant. To this day many military uniforms have brass buttons. Cufflinks also are a good source of brass.

Brass buttons from the uniform of a Danish World War I artillery lieutenant. To this day many military uniforms have brass buttons. Cufflinks also are a good source of brass.


The British use the expression "not worth a brass button" to refer to something of no value. Folks who have no money and are encouraged to buy something will say, "What will I pay with, brass buttons?"

The going rate for brass per pound in my hometown is $1.30 and rising.

Fittings Fit for a King

After a few years in the Arizona sun, rubber garden hoses wind up so dry that they crack and leak. Again, one can only fix those so many times. Between cold and heat, I imagine the same thing happens in the East with summer expansion and frigid winters. Instead of throwing the whole thing in the garbage, cut off the hose fittings. Remember, you have two ends. Nearly all are made of brass. In a few seconds, you have augmented your brass treasure hoard; treasure is in the eye of the beholder.

Auto Parts

Connectors/adapters for water tubing in auto cooling systems are made of brass because of its resistance to corrosion from water. In fact, to maximize its resistance to corrosion, zinc content in brass is limited to no more than 15%.

Auto thermostats and radiator caps have a considerable amount of brass. Brass has superior heat transfer properties, which are important when trying to quickly dissipate heat from water.

Battery connectors/electrodes can be made of brass. Battery charging clips can also be made of brass. If these items appear silver in color, scratch the surface to see if gold-colored brass shines through. Brass has only 28% of the electrical conductivity of pure copper but resists chemical corrosion better.

Brass Wood Connectors

Brass wood screws come with round or flat heads. Traditional brass slotted wood screws are used as finishing screws where a more acceptable and refined finish is required. As an alternative to steel, brass screws were used for naturally acidic timbers and also to match existing brass fixtures. Cup hooks can also be made of solid brass.

Some screws coming with brass fixtures may be washed. Use a magnet to test them. If they stick to the magnet, they are steel in the center. If they don't attract the magnet, they are solid brass content. I have seen brass screws used in fencing and have recovered them. The heads sometimes have a bluish or greenish patina. With simply a reverse turn of the screw, there is more for the metal bin.

It's a Hobby

When I was a kid in Tucson, Arizona, I enjoyed collecting whatever I could to turn a dollar. Money in those days was a little scarce. My first introduction was collecting deposit glass pop bottles. My newspaper saddle bags held quite a few if I was lucky enough to find a stash somewhere—folks didn't throw as much away back then so finding recycle was pretty exciting.

One of my favorite haunts was the dump outside of a golf course at a country club nearby. Nesbitt's and Nehi bottles were aplenty. For five cents a bottle, I would pedal for hours.

People in my hometown loved to decorate with old horseshoes. Fortunately, there were dude ranches several miles away with many discarded horseshoes near the corrals. Pedaling uphill with a bagful of steel horseshoes was no easy task. I got twenty-five cents a piece for those.

Training the eye to be mindful of what can be recycled becomes a habit. Re-purposing and quick cash are all good reasons to start the hobby. Recycling can also bring back a host of good memories!


  • Collins (2018). Definition of Button, English.
  • Terence Bell (2018, November 16). Learn About the Properties and Uses of Brass Metal. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from
  • Corrosion Doctors (2018). Brass Corrosion. Retrieved from November 15, 2018,
  • Copper Development Association, Inc. (No Date), Corrosiona Tests Prove Free-Cutting Brass Outlasts Plated Steel, Retrieved November 14, 2018,
  • Reference (2018), What Is the Chemical Composition of Brass? Retrieved November 19, 2018,
  • Reference (2018), Is Brass Conductive?Retrieved November 14,2018,

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 John R Wilsdon


John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on September 25, 2019:

It is amazing how much is in a CRT television. Many recycled materials outlets do not want them because of the problem dealing with glass. Even second hand stores will no longer accept them. It's a pity.

Sanjay Sharma from Mandi (HP) India on September 24, 2019:

Thanks for sharing the wonderful information. The video about "How to Recycle Content in a CRT Television" is quite interesting,

John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on November 22, 2018:

You're welcome. So many things can be used again. Smelting recycled metal saves a lot of energy. It is much less expensive than mining and processing ore. Thank you for stopping by.

John R Wilsdon (author) from Superior, Arizona on November 22, 2018:

Metal recycling has grown a lot over the past few years. Brass and aluminum are highly sought after. Thanks for commenting and Happy Thanksgiving.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 22, 2018:

I never thought about recycling brass or any metal, although we fill a trash can with paper, etc. to be picked up every other week. I am going to mention this article to my husband as he may be interested.

tebo from New Zealand on November 22, 2018:

A great lot of ideas there John. Hadn't thought of all those brass ideas. Thanks for sharing.