This post may contain affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission when you use them. Thank you for supporting me in this way! View my full disclosure here.
So what’s all this scrapping about, anyway?
You have time. You need money. Maybe you’re unemployed. Perhaps you just want to benefit the environment and stop throwing all that metal into the trash can. You may just have the makings of a metal scrapper.
I’ve compiled some tidbits of information to help you make the most of your metal collecting adventures. And trust me, they really are adventures.
The first time I ventured into the metal yard with a teetering truck full of junk, I whispered to my husband, “I’ve never seen one of these before – except in movies where the bad guys hang out.” He laughed heartily at me of course. Nevertheless, I soon was shamelessly collecting metal like the best of them!
It can become so addicting that you can easily get sidetracked while on a brief outing… “But it was an entire weight set just sitting there by the side of the road!”
PLEASE please be wise. Look to your SAFETY first and be sure you are not violating any rules if you are collecting from around dumpsters! Disclaimer: I am not in any way responsible for any injury you may sustain while on this adventure. Scrap at your own risk.
Take a magnet with you to sort as you collect, it saves time later because you must have it sorted into categories before arriving at the metal yard.
Sort and separate the various metals. Bring several containers with you to categorize your finds.
If you are in the metal line, you want to be sure that the item you are bringing is magnetic. You don’t want to wait (because there is always a line!) to sell your collection only to be moved to the back of the line because the metals were not sorted. Imagine dusty, hot, dirty, stinky. That’s a metal yard.
Scrap Facts & Tips
- Check your locality for any laws that the city may have regarding scrapping.
- Copper and Aluminum have a higher value.
- If it’s magnetic, the value is lower.
- Vacuum cleaner cords, small appliance cords and TV wires are all copper and worth snipping off! While it is time consuming, if you remove the wrapping around the cord, you will get paid more money. You are the judge if it is worth your time.
- The more clean the metal is, the more money. By “clean” I mean removing anything that is not metal from the item. Plastic, rubber, concrete, and wood are all removable items.
- The larger metal yards tend to pay more.
- Apartment complexes have many dumpsters to root through. Be safe! You want to glean metal from around instead of inside the dumpster! It’s best to show up the day before pick up if you can collect that information from a renter.
- Check Facebook Marketplace and the free column of Craigslist CONSTANTLY while driving around for recent scrap postings. Try these keywords:
Scrap, Metal, Grill, Frame, Water heater, Chain fence, Appliances, Basketball Hoop, Camper, File Cabinet, Gutters, Barrels, Scrappers.
- Get there as quickly as you can after posting, more than once we arrived at a posted location only to see someone loading it into their own truck.
- Large appliances have a lot of wires and a large motor. Often the copper, aluminum and metal are all in one package and need to be separated to get the most money. The housing is usually metal.
- Many times gutter replacement companies do not recycle the the old gutters they remove at job sites. Getting connected with a few from your area will save you a lot of footwork, and will give you a regular supply to take in. You may even be able to arrange a regular schedule, or a pickup from their warehouse.
- When sorting aluminum, you need three piles. Cans, foil, and everything else (plate, solid, etc.)
BE SURE to have the title of any vehicle you bring to recycle.
- Bring plenty of tie downs and bungee cords for securing things
- A few boxes for small pieces. You could also use 5 gallon buckets. Heavy duty plastic bags are good for things like sticky cans.
- Wire snips, pliers and wrenches, and a small ratchet set all help to break down and sort out what you collect. A screwdriver set is also essential. John also uses a combination wrench set like this.
- A mask for dust/smell protection – you will be by dumpsters!
- Gloves for protection. My husband likes these for hand protection on heavy stuff, and uses these for taking metal apart.
- Footwear that will protect you well. John has worn through 3 pairs of these, they are his favorite.
- Bring some fun music to listen to to get into the spirit!
Bonus Tip! Have your ID ready at the gate!
Are you ready?
Swallow your pride. You can do this! You are benefiting the environment, but you are also stretching yourself. If you need the money, you can make the time. It’s a win/win situation.
One Christmas my small family was going through a brief period of unemployment while switching from one career to another, and this is how we were able to purchase Christmas gifts for our children.
I’ll never forget the fun memories we made together with loud Christmas music playing in the old Trooper. The kids had books and my husband and I were bundled up in the cold and snow, getting gutters from a roofing job.
With the cash we collected from the aluminum we bought our kids a little play kitchen off of Craigslist. I sewed some chefs hats and aprons from fabric scraps I had on hand, and we were the merriest family in all of Colorado that Christmas. Our children had no idea that things were tight. They had a daddy and mama who were not too proud to get their hands dirty.
This may be just the thing you need to make up the discrepancy between your income and bills. Some people even make this their main source of income!
Scrapping is not for everyone. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. My sisters laughed when I told them stories of our metal adventures. They never would’ve thought that one day their sis would be a “dumpster diver”.
I admit, I was grateful when my husband’s job provided the income we needed in a more “normal” way. But in the meantime? We were together, we made memories, we taught our kids values, and we met our financial needs.
How about you? Are you a metal collector? What tips do you have to share that you have picked up along the way? Is this something you can see yourself doing in your spare time for a little extra cash?