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Scrap Electrical Contacts Recycling

Updated on March 26, 2015

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Scrap Electrical Contacts

Electrical contacts are used in all electronic devices engineered and manufactured today - thermostats, stoves, washing machines, heaters, circuit breakers just to name a few. They can be found in electrical switches, relays and breakers. Electrical contacts are installed in moving and permanent components in many technological devices, such as automotive and aerospace components, high- and low-power contact joins, sliding and breaking contacts, and electro-mechanical systems. Braunović defines electrical contact as a the interface between the current-carrying members of electrical or electronic devices that assure connectivity of electric circuit.

Scrap Electrical Contacts


Both electrical and mechanical wear contribute to the loss of contact material. In order to increase the corrosion resistance and lifetime of electrical contacts, manufacturers use precious and semi-precious metal alloys. Silver, fine grained silver, mixes of silver with nickel, iron graphite, cadmium oxide, and tin oxide are used in the electrical contact manufacturing.

Places where electrical contacts can be easily found

Electronic switches
Washing machine switches
Switch gears
Electric forklifts
Dryer switches
Electrical circuit breakers
Railroad trains
Motor starters
Electronic switches

In order to ensure proper working conditions of electrical contacts they need to be replaced regularly as both electrical and mechanical wear occurs. Each device how has its own manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule. Instead of disposing of worn-out electrical contact – collect and recycle them!

Typical Alloys used for Electrical Contacts


Fine grained silver




Silver-Cadmium Oxide

Silver-Tin Oxide

Recycling Scrap Electrical Contacts

In order to recycle scrap electrical contacts you need to remove them first. Look for button-looking, shiny, circular object like the one in the picture below. Using a pair of vise grips heat the back of the contact until the silver solder melts and drop the silver contact into a bucket of water. Collect a minimum of 15 lbs. before sending it to the refinery.

Removing silver contacts from circuit breakers


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