BusinessFinding a JobFrugal LivingIndustriesInsurancePersonal FinanceReal EstateScams & FraudSelf-EmploymentStarting a Business

Scrap Metal: How to Clean Copper Wire and Use it to Make Money

Updated on November 15, 2016
Nell Rose profile image

Nell is a trained Psychologist and lives in London England. She has been writing since she was a child.

Money for Old Rope, Or In This Case Wire.

Scrap Metal is a very good way to earn yourself some money and give your house and garage a good clean out. But how do you know what's what? Most garages have a collection or jumble of missing parts.

Bike frames, skateboards, old car engines, etc and so on. So how do go about figuring out how to make some money of scrap metal if you don't know anything about it? Copper is one of those metals that you don't really take a lot of notice off, and most people throw it away without thinking about it.

What in your house is made from copper? You can probably think of one or two bits, like a kettle or a a few jugs or vases. But you are missing one particular and major part in any household. In fact this is so proficient you will be surprised when you realise what it is.

Wire.

How many wires have you got laying around the house? That old extension wire that was used in the spare room, curled up in a corner. Old computer plugs and wires thrown in a drawer. Get the picture. So how do you go about changing that wire into something that will make you some money? How to clean copper wire is an easy step by step guide that will teach you just how easy it is to turn scrap metal into cash.

Learning the Gypsy Way

Now I have not lived for years with a Gypsy without picking up some of the scrap metal habits. I have come home quite a few times to find my kitchen taken over with copper wire tied to the door handles. And piles of shiny copper strips laying across the floor. Obviously most people will clean and scrap metal outside, but the thing with copper is that if you are only cleaning the copper from wire, it can be done inside your house. But what do you need?

1. A very sharp knife

2. A magnet

3. Very strong garden gloves, as you don't want to get any wire in your fingers. Nasty.

4. A screwdriver, hammer, Stanley knife or scraper. And of course wire strippers

5. A lighter.

And of course if you are doing it inside, you need copious amounts of newspaper on the floor as your spouse may feel the urge to murder you! Fact!

So why do we need a magnet?

Pure Grade Copper Wire Stripped And Cleaned

Double Check Your Metals.

Scrap metal dealers always use a magnet to make sure that all the metal is separated into the right piles. Copper is not magnetised. When you hold the magnet to it, it will just fall off. Some metals will be magnetised. There is nothing worse for a scrap metal dealer to see someone who has no idea what the hell they are doing, come into the scrap yard with a a big bag and a grin saying, 'Here you go mate, I got you some metal'! The dealer will definitely not be happy. And more important, you will only get a tiny amount of money doing it this way.

For two reasons. One, it will automatically be regarded as second grade metal, which means it is not pure. And two, the poor dealer has to sort it out himself.

You are not doing yourself any favours by trying to make the weight of the metal heavier, by letting other bits of metal stay on the copper. Brass for instance or iron. The weight of the metal is the thing that will give you your money. More weight, more money. But only if it is pure. Mixing the metals will make the grade go down. So don't do it.

How To Strip Copper Wire

Clean and Tidy. Pack Ready To Go.

Copper piping is pretty easy to recognise. We all know how shiny and red looking it is, if it is mixed with brass or anything else the colour will be dull. Don't forget the magnet. Remember?  So if you have copper piping, just cut it into strips and make sure everything else, like plastic taps or cogs are taken off.

Copper wire can be stripped in a number of ways. You can use a vice to hold one end, and then get a pair of wire strippers and grip the wire with one hand and pull sharply. This can take a while but it is one of the best ways to do it. We have always wrapped it around a door handle, or I hold the wire while it is being stripped at the other end. It's best to keep it at the long length whilst doing it as if you cut it into strips it gets very fiddly and you are likely to lose half of the copper.

We always use a Stanley knife or just a sharp knife. It's quicker but more dangerous to do it this way. One slip and you can lose a finger, so be careful! When the wire is stripped, wrap it around into a small ball. The tighter the better. Tighter equals weight!

You can of course burn of the plastic covering of wire, this way is much quicker as it leaves the copper nearly cleaned of plastic, but black. The only trouble with this is, if it gets damaged in the flames, it will be regarded as grade 2. less Money. 

Scrap Copper Prices

At this moment in time, September 2010. Copper is marked as:

$3.47 per pound. = £2,24 per pound. English and U.S.

So, you can see how much money you can make if you do it right!

So Get Scrapping!

So, just remember that rubbish in your garage may not be rubbish, it may be a little gold mine, well copper mine!

© 2010 Nell Rose

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your wonderful help.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Hello Hello, thanks for reading it, I was going to do this ages ago, but thought it might be boring, but it can be useful when we haven't got any money. There has been many a time that we have lived on what we have got from the scrap money, thanks as always nell

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      That's kinda neat - recycling at its best - and making some dough....I'll have to tell Bob about it!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Audrey, we have always done this for years, sometimes my house looks like a scrap yard! lol I did this as I thought it might be a good idea as it does make money, but I think I did two hubs too quickly and it seems to have been missed, or maybe it's just too boring! ha ha thanks as always nell

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      OMG over $3 a pound? I am going to search for some copper right now.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Steve, you would be surprised at the amount of money that people throw away in their garages, copper aluminium brass, every thing is worth something to a scrap dealer, that's why there are always signs up in shops etc saying, 'I will take away your rubbish for nothing'! crafty eh? lol thanks nell

    • profile image

      jasper420 6 years ago

      very usefull i had to scrap when my ex and I were living in Austin we made a lot of money doing so it put food on the table and helped with the bills your hub is very usefull well thought out i wish i would have thought of this great work thanks for the tip ill show your hub to my ex he still scraps

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi,jasper420, thanks I am glad you like it, we have been doing it for years and as you say at least it helps pay the bills! thank goodness! lol cheers nell

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Nell,love ya! In times like these this will be a great help to a lot of people.

      One thing about it is there are some bad people that will go in abandoned houses and rip all the copper out. Bad stuff.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Granny's House, thanks for reading it, and I hope it does help, it certainly helped us when we were broke! I may do another one yet about other metals, we will see, thanks nell

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Hi Nell. wish I could meet you

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Granny's House, it would be great wouldn't it? I have just sent you an e-mail, sorry it took so long, okay? hope to hear from you soon, nell

    • E.Welch profile image

      E.Welch 6 years ago

      Nell, my husband loved this hub. He and my Son have been doing this. Great tips.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, E Welch, it is a good idea isn't it? anything that will help the purse strings! lol thanks again nell

    • profile image

      TheIrrationalist 6 years ago

      I really appreciate this one Hub. One thing I like to look out for is cupronickel. That is the stuff they make silver plated stuff out of... It actually has 70% copper and 30% nickel. and because nickel is 3 times as expensive at copper, it really adds up!! I wrote about it on my website.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Theirrationalist, thanks for stopping by, I wondered what silver plate was made of, thanks for the info, I will certainly come over and take a look at your site, thanks so much nell

    • The Jet profile image

      The Jet 6 years ago from The Bay

      Great and interesting hub. I'm sure it'll come in handy one day.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, The Jet, thanks, glad you liked it, nell

    • sassyk73 profile image

      Karen A. Harris 5 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

      Great hub :) My hubby does the scrap metal. You are so right an excellent way to earn extra money. Vote up! Very useful hub!

    • onceuponatime66 profile image

      Jackie Paulson 5 years ago from USA IL

      Thanks for the info, I always wondered how to clean my pennies.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, sassy thanks so much! glad it was helpful, cheers nell

      Hi, once, thanks for reading, cheers nell

    • profile image

      Scrap Metals 5 years ago

      This is amazing. we can actually earn dollars out of the scrap metals? wow, i used to put give it to my neighbor. now i have an idea what to do in my scraps. thanks for sharing this info.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Very amusing Scrap Metal!

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 5 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      Awesome Nell!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Jlava thanks for reading! cheers nell

    • Jolinaroxas13 profile image

      Jolinaroxas13 5 years ago from New York

      Great and interesting hub. I'm sure it'll come in handy one day. Nice iformation

      Here i have unique methed that How I Make $1000 A Week on CPAlead??

      http://earnonlinemoneys.com/2011/09/26/how-i-make-...

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Jolinaroxas, thanks for reading, I will go take a look, cheers nell

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Nell, on this side of the Pond, since the economy tanked there's been an epidemic of copper theft. Vandalizing air conditioner units, since they're outside, is one method. Many businesses and SCHOOLS have had to not only replace the damaged units but also go to the expense of securing them in theft-proof enclosures. Construction sites are also a favorite target.

      Once the copper is stripped and cleaned, there's NO way to identify where it came from. It all looks the same in a scrap yard.

      Meaning unless the perps are caught in the act, or an associate rats on them, they get off scot free.

      So PLEASE, if you're a copper scrapper, only do so with copper you've come by LEGALLY, i.e. in old fridges or the wiring from cast-off electronics.

    • Jolinaroxas13 profile image

      Jolinaroxas13 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Nell Rose. By the way i have also posted comments on your other pages but you doesn't approve my that comments.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Jama, Its the same over here, so that's great advice, we always scrap old wire, i.e. tv ariels etc, but I think the scrap yards are getting wise to the situation, thanks for the info, we will keep an eye out too, cheers nell

      Hi, Jolinaroxas, I am a bit behind today, but I did see your other comment yesterday, thanks for that, I will be over shortly okay? cheers nell

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Jolinaroxas, I came over but you haven't written any hubs yet, let me know when you do, and I will come over and read, okay? thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      By the way, Jolinaroxas, I did answer your comment above? its just underneath your comment, Okay?

    • profile image

      Kyle white 5 years ago

      I have tons of copper wire from my job being an electrician, im s tripping it all down taking the sheathing off, but when its all said and done il have about 100 pounds of just pure copper, should i turn it into a giant ball? or make smaller balls so the scrapyard doesn't think im trying to hide other metal inside of it?

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Kyle, thanks for commenting, the best way to do it, I just asked my ex who works in the scrap yard, he says its best to make smaller balls out of the wire, not because of the fact that something may be hidden, but purely because if you make smaller ones you will be able to scrunch them up better than a big one, therefore making them weigh more, and its the weight that brings in the money, okay? good luck!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, dewie, ha ha thanks for the laugh!

    • weezyschannel profile image

      Lisa 5 years ago from Central USA

      Nice to know Nell! I'm thinking of everything now that I can take apart. LOL

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, weezy, not the TV! oh no! lol its amazing what you can find to scrap, just hit the garage! lol thanks again, nell

    • Jonathan Grimes profile image

      Jonathan Grimes 5 years ago from Devon

      Great hub an never thought of wrap, copper in that way.

      Thanks for sharing

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Jonathan, yes we have been doing scrap for a long time, its not something that I would have thought of years ago, but it certainly comes in helpful if you are broke, or just need to clear out the garage, thanks for reading, cheers nell

    • profile image

      Kyle 5 years ago

      what is a reddish color copper? i know the bronze color but i have come acrossed some red color copper? is that the same as the bronze color?

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Kyle, I wasn't sure, so I asked my friend at the scrapyard if there was a difference, from what I gather the reddish one has added aluminium, so it would make it slightly less money, or second grade, okay? hope that helps, nell

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I remember my little brothers and I gathering scrap metal as kids, just don't remember the benefits, lol. Guess this has always been sort of a heaped up world of junk, huh?

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Jackie, yes you are right there! lol! it seems we all did things when we were little, but now I know how to get money out of it, thank goodness! thanks as always, nell

    • profile image

      Luke 5 years ago

      wadding the copper into balls will not make it weigh more, just more dense

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks Luke, I understand thanks, its just easier to scrunch them up, its still going to be the same weight, what I actually meant to say is that if its loose you are more likely to lose some, sorry if I didn't make that clear, thanks for reading cheers nell

    • profile image

      Tim 5 years ago

      Luke, density is basically wieght(mass) per a specified area ( poor word choice i know.) While it does not make the metal itself wiegh more, it will allow you to fit more wiegh into a specified area ie: a 5-gal bucket filled to the brim of tighly wound wire, will wiegh more than the same bucket filled with loosely coiled wires. does anyone else take 26D( Satin Chromium ) coated brass hardware components to a wire whell or am i wasting my time? is bare bright a classification specific to copper?

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Tim, give your local scrap dealer a ring, I am sure they will be able to tell you each and every type of copper, good luck and thanks for reading, cheers nell

    • profile image

      Aussie Scrapper 5 years ago

      Do NOT burn the copper to strip it.

      A- It is bad for the environment and your health (as it releases the chlorine content of the insulation)

      B- It is illegal in many of the US states, and from what I know here in Australia it also is.

      C- Many scrap yards these days will not buy any copper wiring that shows signs of being burnt.

      Some might say "well scrap yards will still buy it anyway" but many of them won't these days, this is dependent on their contracts with the refineries in which they sell to, as a lot of the refineries will not deal with burnt copper.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Aussie, I refer to the burning of the copper only if it is taken to the scrap yard to do. Not many people use that method anymore, and as I mentioned above, it makes it grade 2 copper anyway if you burn it. But you do have good points there, so much appreciated for your reading and leaving good advice, thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi cable, thanks for reading, cheers nell

    • profile image

      Steve C. 5 years ago

      I wonder were you can bring in copper or steel by the bucket fulls and sell it that way in Syracuse New York? That would be a great help. If I had a large amount I would worry about it but I only have bucket fulls.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks Steve for reading, I have no idea but it sounds like a lot of fun! lol!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Thanks claude, glad you liked it, cheers nell

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      What a great idea. I'm going to tool around the house right now and see if I can find any scrap. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Thanks alocsin, always nice to see you, thanks!

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

      I kid you not I have a massive bin in my garage that's completely full of wires!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi monica, lol! you send that over to me? thanks!

    • profile image

      Les 4 years ago

      Just wanted to suggest hand tools for stripping copper wire are the Scavenger Series copper wire recycler tools, found on youtube, check them out

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Thanks Les!

    • profile image

      Niko 3 years ago

      is there is any copper scrap seller ?? i need big quantity. if yours price is well :)

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Sorry niko, I just write about it, maybe you should look a bit more locally?

    • onceuponatime66 profile image

      Jackie Paulson 3 years ago from USA IL

      I did tweet this one. Copper is such a great topic.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Thanks oneuponatime, glad you liked it, nell

    • SpaceShanty profile image

      SpaceShanty 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Nell Rose,

      Firstly I want to congratulate you on creating a Hub with excellent Google search placement, I think it was in position No. 5 when I was seaching for info. on trading scrap copper wire.

      Secondly I have a quick question. I am thinking about making some cash from dealing copper wire. I am thinking about buying it with the PVC covering and stripping it for more money. I just want to ask what thickness of wire is considered 'Bright copper wire' and commands top dollar, is it just the type used in houses to bring power to the outlets or is any stripped wire, including power cables from electrical appliances regarded as bright copper wire?

      Many Thanks in advance.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Wow! Thanks SpaceShanty, well who would have guessed? lol! my husband is the scrap merchant so I have the answers straight out of the horses mouth so to speak!

      Just asked for clarification from hubby! bright wire whatever the thickness will always be worth more money purely because its 'clean' whereas burning wire makes it 'second class' wire. Hope that helps, and thanks!

    Click to Rate This Article