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How To Sort Scrap Metal For Recycling

Updated on June 29, 2010


Scrap metal can be sorted for recycling using a simple method. There are numerous types of metals out there but this article will focus on a few common types that most scrap metal recyclers will accept.


Pull out any scrap metal that is magnetic and put it into a pile. This stack will be your iron, steel and other ferrous metals which means they have iron in them. Iron and steel can be sold together ans many times scrap metal recyclers classify these as the same when you recycle scrap metals. Iron and steel will be the least valuable metals discussed in this article.


Pull out any red metal. This will be either copper or red brass. If you have wires, pipes or cables it will be copper for sure. Some times in plumbing and other parts there will be red brass. Red brass will be a different shade of red than regular copper as red brass has some copper but is not pure copper. Put all your copper into one pile. If you have red brass put that separate. Copper will usually be the most valuable of the metals I will discuss in this article.


Separate any yellow colored metal. This will be brass unless you have some gold in your pile. Gold will be more golden color while brass will be more yellow. Put all your brass into one pile. Brass is the second most valuable metal I will discuss in this article.


Separate all the aluminum. Aluminum will be light weight compared to the other metals and will be a silver color. Take a look at an aluminum can to see the color.


Take out any lead you have. This will be very heavy for it's size and dark gray.


Separate all the clean metals from the dirty. Clean metal will be worth more than dirty metal. Dirty metal will have dirt, rust, other metals or contaminates mixed with the metal. And example would be iron nails in aluminum sheet. This would be dirty aluminum sheet. 


Separate aluminum sheet, from regular aluminum. Aluminum sheet is less valuable than regular aluminum. Put aluminum cans in a separate pile by themselves. An example of aluminum sheet would be aluminum siding. 


Recycle the metals. After all metals are sorted recycle them at a scrap metal recycler.


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    • profile image

      Sathish Shetty 

      5 years ago

      Im sure through from these life become easy...

    • profile image

      The Irrationalist 

      7 years ago

      Not bad! way to get things done! :D

    • profile image

      Scrap Stainless Steel 

      7 years ago

      I love it how you get straight to the point with your hubs. They are a credit to the scrap metal industry ;)

    • profile image

      Scrap Brass 

      7 years ago

      Another fine hub. Thx.

    • Jezhug profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      Great break-down. Thank you, a very well written hub ;)

    • Tim_511 profile image


      7 years ago from Huntington, WV

      Nice overview. I'm not sure how to tell the difference between red brass and copper, but it might be obvious with both in hand.


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