How much can you make from Scrap Metal?

How much can you make from scrap metal?

Have you ever wondered just how lucrative the world of scrap metal can be? If you’ve got a truck and a bit of spare time, you could pocket an extra $100 to $500 each month. In this thrilling journey, we’re about to embark on, we’ll explore how to make money from scrap metal and discover if it’s the perfect side gig for you.

You’ll be astounded to learn that countless products with valuable metal components are discarded when they no longer serve their original purpose. Rusty pots and pans find their way to the trash, abandoned metal furniture litter alleys, and old bicycles are disassembled and dumped, among other things. Instead of breathing new life into these metals, they occupy space in landfills, wasted and forgotten.

This is a tragedy because metal is remarkably durable and can be recycled repeatedly without losing quality. Scrap metal recycling reduces waste and conserves energy and natural resources. For instance, remelt steel scrap requires significantly less energy than to craft new items from raw materials. Repurposing scrap metal also helps save precious landfill space.

The critical distinction between metal and traditional recycling lies in how they’re acquired. While municipal programs funded by taxpayers typically collect paper and plastic, metals are purchased by scrap yards for melting. This means that scrap metal holds inherent value, providing an excellent opportunity for savvy scrappers to earn extra cash.

Why the World of Scrap Metal Recycling Thrives?

In a world overflowing with metal waste and a growing demand for steel in sectors like automotive and construction, scrap metal recycling emerges as an eco-friendly solution. Not only does it reduce the burden on our landfills, but it also diminishes our dependence on mining for raw materials.

Your city boasts one or more metal recycling facilities, or at the very least, collection centers where you can drop off your metal and get paid for your efforts.

Distinguishing Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

In this fascinating domain, metals are categorized into ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous metals, which include everyday items like appliances, furniture, and transportation parts, are often magnetic but less valuable than their non-ferrous counterparts. Non-ferrous metals, such as precious metals, aluminum, lead, copper, and more, command higher value due to their recyclability without altering their chemical properties.

Though non-ferrous metals make up only a fraction of the scrap metal industry’s volume, they contribute to a significant portion of its revenue, thanks to their higher worth.

Unlocking the World of Scrap Metal Types

  • Copper: A precious metal often found in household plumbing, electrical wires, and appliances like washers and air conditioners. The average price/pound is $3.10.
  • Aluminum: Slightly less valuable than copper but abundant in items like cookware, kitchen appliances, and even car engines. The average price/pound is $0.70.
  • Brass: Relatively valuable compared to other scrap metals in light fixtures, doorknobs, and furniture. The average price/pound is $2.00.
  • Steel: While steel is common, its value is lower than other metals. It can be obtained from household appliances, pipes, beams, old TVs, and computer towers. The average price/pound is $0.05 and for stainless steel, it is $0.30.
  • Lead: Valuable but less common, you can scrap lead from sources like wheel weights and piping, but handling it requires caution due to its toxicity. The average price/pound is $0.40.
  • Silver and Gold: Precious metals that command high prices are often found in jewelry, silverware, and antique items.

Essential Tools of the Trade

To embark on this profitable journey, you’ll need a few basic tools:

  • A Truck: Ideal for transporting large items like appliances and machinery parts.
  • A Magnet: To help distinguish ferrous from non-ferrous metals.
  • Wrench and Screwdriver: For removing non-metal parts and separating different metal types.
  • Dolly: Essential for moving heavy appliances and scrap metal.
  • Tie-Down Straps: To secure your loads during transportation safely.
  • Scale: Useful for weighing your metals before heading to the scrapyard.

Staying Safe in the Scrap Metal World

Safety is paramount in the scrap metal trade:

  • Protective Clothing: Wear a helmet, industrial gloves, and eye protection to shield yourself from sharp edges and debris.
  • Secure Your Loads: Use ropes, bungees, and chains to prevent your scrap from falling during transport.
  • Other Safety Equipment: Depending on your work, you might need ladders, harnesses, and a first aid kit.

Maximizing Your Earnings

Focus on high-value metals like copper, brass, aluminum, lead, silver, and gold to boost your scrap metal income. You can also consider repairing and reselling appliances or separating different metals to sell them separately.

Selling Your Haul

Where you choose to sell your scrap metal is vital:

  • Local Scrapyard: They buy scrap metal in bulk and often offer competitive prices.
  • Local Recycling Centers: Prices may vary, so compare rates from different recyclers. Some pay immediately, while others offer delayed payment.
  • Online Platforms: Websites like Craigslist and Facebook can be excellent for selling refurbished appliances.

Valuing Your Scrap

The worth of your scrap metal varies based on the type and location, with prices ranging from a few cents to over $2 per pound. Be aware that prices fluctuate, so it’s wise to confirm rates beforehand.

Legal Considerations

Check your local and state laws, as you may need a license to sell scrap metal in some areas to prevent the trade of stolen metals.

Scrapping Strategies

To find your scrap, explore Craigslist, connect with local manufacturers and businesses, inform friends and neighbors of your venture, and check your property for potential sources.


Whether you’re feeling the pinch in your budget or chasing ambitious financial goals that seem out of reach, the quest to make money beyond your 9-to-5 job has never been more enticing. The best side hustles allow you to set your schedule, be your boss, and earn a tidy sum while doing something meaningful. Surprisingly, one of the most underrated money-making ventures involves recycling scrap metal. It might not sound glamorous, but it’s an incredible opportunity to line your pockets on your terms while contributing to a greener planet.