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What Are the Best Tips for Selling Scrap Metal?

Different types of scrap metal have different values.
Aluminum from food and soda cans are common items sold at scrap metal centers.
Galvanized steel can often be sold for scrap metal.
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  • Written By: Drue Tibbits
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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Selling scrap metal not only generates income, but it also helps the environment by returning waste goods for recycling. The amount of money gained from a truckload of scrap metal can be significantly increased by following a few simple tips. It is not just the type of metal that determines what it's worth but also the grade of metal and its condition. Additionally, the prices for scrap metal fluctuates often, sometimes changing from day to day. To get the most for scrap metal, it should be separated, sorted, and sold when the market is paying the most.

The easiest way to find out what a scrap yard is paying for a particular metal is to call them. Most scrap yards provide their current rates. By getting in the habit of contacting them often, patterns often emerge that indicate which way the metal market is trending. Before selling scrap metal, it is helpful to contact several different scrap yards in the area. It is not uncommon to find wide differences in what the scrap yards are paying, even when they are located close to each other.

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One of the ways metal is graded is by its condition. A load of aluminum fetches a decent price, but if that same aluminum has embedded screws or is painted, it will earn substantially less. It pays to sort the metal before taking it in, as a scrap yard only pays the going amount for the least-quality metal in the load. If a load contains a combination of clean aluminum and painted aluminum, the scrap yard will count the entire load as painted aluminum. Along the same lines, if a load contains a combination of different metals, such as galvanized steel and stainless steel, the entire load will be counted as galvanized.

Some scrap yards only accept certain types of metal, while others take almost every kind. The most efficient way of selling scrap metal is to find out in advance which scrapyards take which kinds of metal and which will take combination loads. In addition, it helps to inquire whether they have minimum weights they accept or if they will take small quantities. Sometimes, selling scrap metal involves a trade-off. It may take more time to remove screws, scrape off paint, or strip the coating off of copper wire, but in the end, the payoff may be much larger.

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