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How To Strip Insulated Copper Wire

Updated on October 27, 2015


So you have some insulated copper wire and want to strip that insulation off to make more money from your scrap. The good news is there are multiple ways to get that plastic or rubber coating off which we will discuss some of them here. There are also some ways that you should not use which we will also discuss in this article. You do not need to break the bank getting special equipment and tools but if you have enough scrap there are some options that could speed up the process and make it easier to get that copper.

Use A Utility Knife

One of the cheapest ways to strip a small amount of insulated copper wire would be to use a utility knife or other sharp knife. You can get them cheap and the blades are not expensive either. To do this strip one or both ends part way so there is enough visible copper wire to secure it for the next step. If you only strip one end you will have to hold the other end firmly with your hand so it does not slip. You can also not strip the ends at all and just remove the remaining insulation when finished..

Secure the ends to something like a clamp or even wrap them around something. Make sure it is secure and will not come off. Then just take your blade and place it against the copper so it cuts the insulation and slide it down to the other end and remove the insulation with your fingers and put the copper in your scrap pile.

Do not cut towards yourself or others to avoid injury. Do not use your foot to hold it on the ground as you will cut towards your leg and risk injury. Utility knifes are very sharp so use caution and common sense when using.

Use A Wire Stripper

An easier and safer way to strip insulated copper wire would be to use a cable or wire stripper. There are many different types to choose from and you can see some suggestions on this page. Some are motorized, others will attach to a work bench or have other benefits. Prices can vary depending on what one you need. I would not advise getting the ones that only strip the ends of the wire as it will take longer to strip and certain types of wire will not be able to be stripped. You may also have to cut the wire into smaller pieces. If you don't mind this then they can be cheap though.

Get A Wire Stripping Machine

If you have a lot of insulated copper wire you could invest in a wire stripping machine. This would probably be the fastest way to strip insulated copper wire but it is also the most costly. Unless you have a large amount on a regular basis this probably is not the best way to go. If you have a lot on a regular basis this would probably be worth a look. Just make sure you have the space to put it. You do not need a warehouse to have the space for a wire stripping machine. There are some small enough to put in a garage

What Not To Do

Do not burn your insulated copper wire to remove insulation! Not only does it produce toxic fumes and bad for the environment it will make the price you get for your copper go down. It leaves residue and stuff on the wire that will downgrade your copper and you will probably get the worst price for it. It is also illegal in many areas. I have also heard of people using chemicals which is another bad idea as this could be dangerous as well as illegal.


If you heat the insulated copper wire it will be easier to cut the insulation. You could use a heat gun which would be easy. Or you could leave it out in the sun on a hot day. I have even heard on someone that boiled it in water. Just be sure not to over heat it as not to burn it. Also if it melts it might stick to the copper making it possibly worth less. Just use caution and start with a small amount to test and get the hang of it.

How Much Insulated Copper Wire Per Month

Less Than 10 LBS
10 To 100 LBS
Over 100 LBS
Use A Utility Knife
Use A Wire Stripper
Use A Wire Stripping Machine
Inexpensive, Safer, Easier
Expensive, Easiest
General Idea of which way to try


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