All copper scrap isn’t the same! There are many different types of copper scrap, and we’re going to tell you more about them today. We’ll also share other helpful tips for scrap copper sellers, so you can get the most money for your materials.
What is Copper?
Copper is a reddish-orange metal that is abundant in the Earth’s crust. It’s been used for centuries because it’s highly malleable and conducts electricity well. Today, copper is still widely used in electrical wiring, plumbing, and other construction applications. It’s also popular for jewelry, coins, and other decorative items.
Copper is usually found in nature in the form of copper sulfides or copper oxides. To be used commercially, these minerals must be smelted to extract the pure copper metal. Once extracted, the copper can be cast into various shapes or rolled into thin sheets.
What is Scrap Copper?
Scrap copper is simply any piece of copper that is no longer being used for its original purpose. It can come from electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, old coins, jewelry, or any other source.
Why Recycle Copper?
The process of recycling copper uses far less energy than mining and processing new copper ore. Plus, recycling copper cuts down on pollution and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Not to mention, recycling copper scrap or other types of scrap metal is a great way to earn some extra income. Whether you do this occasionally or it’s a dedicated hobby of yours, you can rest assured you’re doing something good for the environment while also earning some extra cash.
Copper is also a highly sought-after metal by scrap yards and recycling centers. That’s because copper is one of the most valuable metals you can recycle. Many scrap yards pay more for copper than any other type of metal!
Other benefits of recycling all scrap metals include:
- Reduced waste in landfills: Every year, millions of tons of scrap metal end up in landfills. This takes up valuable space and can pollute the environment.
- More jobs in the recycling industry: The more scrap metal that’s recycled, the more demand there is for workers in the recycling industry.
- Conservation of natural resources: It takes a lot of energy and water to mine metals from the ground. Recycling scrap metal conserves these valuable resources.
Now that you know a little more about scrap copper, let’s take a closer look at the different types of copper scrap.
Types of Copper Scrap
There are four primary types of copper scrap: bare bright copper, grade #1 copper, grade #2 copper, and light copper (AKA grade #3 copper).
Bare bright copper
This copper scrap is the most valuable type and includes clean, unalloyed, and uncoated copper. It’s often used for electrical purposes because it’s bright in color and hasn’t been tarnished by exposure to the elements. It contains 99.9% copper, making it the purest form of metal. It’s also called “bright and shiny copper,” and it’s also the most profitable type of copper scrap! Further, it can’t be any thinner than 16 gauge—copper piping not included! Finally, it must be pure, without signs of tarnishing, paint, or other impurities.
(Get the answer to “How much is copper worth?” next)
Grade #1 copper
Next to bare bright copper, this is the second of the most profitable types of copper scrap. To fit into the grade #1 category, it must be at least 1/16th of an inch in diameter and clean, uncoated, and unalloyed.
This type of copper is also known as “clean copper,” and it’s comprised of bus bars, clippings, commutator segments, and wire. It’s similar to bare bright copper, but a few tarnished or discolored spots are acceptable. Grade #1 copper still contains a high percentage of copper (at least 92%), making it a valuable scrap option.
Grade #2 copper
This type of copper is often used in construction because it’s less expensive than other types of copper—you can also spot it by its “dirty” appearance compared to bare bright copper or grade #1 copper. It includes pipes and wires that have been soldered, as well as plumbing tubes that have been painted. It must be thinner than a 16th of an inch in diameter and free of insulation to fit in this category. Grade #2 copper still contains a significant amount of the metal (at least 94% copper), making it a good choice for scrap sellers—the third most valuable grade.
Light Copper (AKA grade #3 copper)
This is the lowest quality type of copper scrap and includes tarnished or discolored materials. It may also include copper that has been painted or soldered. Light copper contains at least 88-92% copper, making it yet another good option for scrap sellers. You can often find this type of copper scrap in kettles, downspouts, and gutters.
Where to Find Different Types of Copper Scrap
We’ve covered a lot about the different types of copper scrap. Next, let’s talk about where you can find them. Here are a few ideas:
- Look for copper pipes and wires at construction sites
- Check with local businesses that use copper in their products or operations.
- Ask family and friends if they have any unwanted copper materials that they’re willing to part with.
- Scour garage sales, flea markets, and other second-hand stores for copper items.
- Look for copper coins (like pennies) that are no longer in circulation.
Products that Contain Copper Scrap
As we mentioned earlier, copper scrap is often used for electrical purposes. But that’s not the only way that it’s used. Here are a few other examples:
- Pipes and tubing are commonly used in plumbing applications.
- Copper wires are used in a variety of electrical applications, including electrical wiring
- Coins – both new and old – often contain copper scrap
- Some types of jewelry contain copper scrap
- Copper sheeting is often used in roofing and flashing applications
(Learn more about copper wire recycling next)
Tips for Selling Copper Scrap
Now you’re ready to sell. Here are a few tips to help you get the most money for your materials:
- Check the current scrap metal prices before you sell. This way, you’ll know how much your copper is worth, and you can get a fair price for it.
- Find a reputable scrap metal buyer. This is important because not all buyers will give you the same price for your copper. It’s always a good idea to compare prices before you sell.
- Bring your ID with you when you go to sell your copper scrap. Some states require ID for all scrap metal transactions, so it’s best to be prepared.
Determining Copper Purity
It’s also important to know how to determine the purity of your copper scrap before you sell it. The easiest way to do this is by using a copper testing kit, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Another option is to take your copper scrap to a local scrap yard or recycling center and have it tested there. Most places will do this for free or for a small fee.
When it comes to copper purity, the higher the percentage, the more money you’ll get for your scrap. So, if you have a higher purity copper scrap, get it tested to get the best price for it!
Additional Tips for Selling and Collecting Scrap Metal
The types of copper scrap we’ve covered in this post are just some of the most profitable scrap metals you can recycle! But before we go, here are some other tips for selling scrap metals and making the most money for them.
- Clean and sort your scrap metals before you sell them. This will help you get a better price for your materials and make the selling process easier.
- Store them carefully: Most types of scrap metal are best stored in a cool, dry place. Cover them with a tarp or tarpaulin if you’re storing them outdoors to protect them from the elements.
- Keep an eye on the market: Scrap metal prices can fluctuate, so it’s always smart to keep an eye on the market and sell when prices are high.
- Separate your metals: It’s also a good idea to separate different types of scrap metal. This will make it easier to sell them and get the best prices for each type of material.
- Don’t overlook small pieces of scrap metal: Even small pieces of scrap metal can add up and be sold for a profit. So, don’t overlook them when you’re collecting materials!
Earn More for Different Types of Copper Scrap
Now you know more about the different types of copper scrap and how to get the most money for them. So, what are you waiting for? Start collecting your materials today and earn extra cash by recycling copper scrap!
If you’re looking for commercial scrap metal recycling in Florida, Scrap Gators is the place to be. We’ll help you get the most money for your materials and can even pick them up from your location and help with your commercial clean-out. Contact us today to learn more!