Scrap metal recycling is not only an environmentally friendly practice but also a lucrative venture. Various metals have different values, and knowing which ones fetch the highest prices can maximize your earnings. This article explores the most profitable scrap metals and provides tips on where to find them and how to prepare them for sale.

Key Takeaways

  • Aluminum and aluminum cans can earn between $0.15 – $0.50 per pound.
  • Copper wiring and tubing are among the most valuable scrap metals, fetching around $4.00 per pound.
  • Brass is also highly valuable, with prices ranging from $2.30 to $2.75 per pound.
  • Scrapping junk cars can yield metals like aluminum, steel, and copper, offering a good return.
  • Car batteries contain valuable metals like lead and can earn approximately $0.22 per pound.

Aluminum and Aluminum Cans

Average Market Prices

Aluminum prices tend to move a little from month to month, but are less likely to see dramatic changes than copper. Aluminum cans are among the easiest items to scrap since they can be found in abundance and are lightweight for transportation. While aluminum cans aren’t worth as much as other metals, they are extremely easy to come by and to collect enough to make it worth it to recycle them.

Common Sources

Aluminum is not just found in cans. It can also be found in other items, including siding, tire rims, car grills, cookware, wires, and more. If you have more than one type of aluminum, like cans and a piece of a gutter, separate them. Since these are priced differently, it’s easier for the recycling center to calculate the value when they are sorted.

Recycling Tips

Removing labels from cans is also easy, making them a great target for those looking to get into metal scrapping. Aluminum cans are an example of closed-loop recycling: aluminum cans that are recycled are used to make more aluminum cans, not turned into other products. If you regularly drink sparkling water, soda, and other canned beverages, you can save the cans and exchange them for a small amount of money.

Copper Wiring and Copper Tubing

Why Copper is Valuable

Copper contains many useful qualities that make it valuable to a number of industries. Copper is significantly durable and resistant to high temperatures, so is commonly used to make pipes. It is also a great conductor of electricity and so most electrical items will usually host a small amount of copper. A lot of this is found in the wiring, and so scrapping wires can be a good way of recycling copper.

Where to Find Copper

You can find copper in plumbing fixtures such as your kitchen sink, electrical wiring, pipes, and electromagnetic items. If you are doing a remodeling project that involves tearing down some parts of your home, you will likely find some copper items in the rubble. Old boilers and building gutters are often made of copper, while copper wires can be found in everything from washing machines to dishwashers, cameras, blenders, computers and much more.

How to Prepare Copper for Sale

Different grades of copper fetch different prices. Copper sheet, for example, is more valuable per pound than plastic-coated copper wire because there is a higher copper content. You may also want to remove insulation from copper wiring to sell it at a better price. Be aware, however, wires will usually contain thick plastic insulation and so the weight of the copper will be less than expected.

When scrapping copper, always separate it by type and remove any non-copper materials to get the best price.


Brass is a versatile alloy primarily composed of copper and zinc, often found in household items and plumbing components. Its shiny appearance makes it popular for decorative items like taps, lamp fittings, and doorknobs. Mechanical bearings and gears might also be made of brass.

Market Value of Brass

The market value of brass can vary, but it generally fetches a good price due to its copper content. For instance, mixed metal prices can be around £170.00, while specific brass items might be valued higher.

Common Items Made of Brass

  • Taps
  • Lamp fittings
  • Doorknobs
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Mechanical bearings and gears

Recycling Process

Recycling brass is straightforward. Start by sorting brass items from other metals. Clean the items to remove any non-metal parts. Finally, take the sorted and cleaned brass to a scrap dealer for recycling.

Brass is increasingly common in household décor such as taps, light fittings, lamps, etc. It’s also found in plumbing fixtures, so if you’re renovating your house, you might have a pile of brass to recycle.

Scrapping Junk Cars and Car Parts

Scrapping a junk car can be quite profitable due to the variety of metals it contains. Metals like aluminum, steel, and copper are commonly found in cars and can be recycled for cash. The process involves draining fluids, crushing, and shredding the car, followed by separating the metal contents from non-metals.

To maximize your return, it’s essential to dismantle the car properly. Here are the steps:

  1. Remove all fluids, including oil, coolant, and brake fluid.
  2. Take out the battery and tires.
  3. Dismantle valuable parts like the engine, transmission, and catalytic converter.
  4. Separate metals like aluminum and steel for recycling.

Before you scrap your car, ensure you comply with local regulations. This may include providing proof of ownership and notifying the DMV. Some regions require you to remove the license plates and return them. Always check with your local authorities to avoid any legal issues.

For those in Wolverhampton, Mainline Salvage is the no.1 choice for car scrappage. Scrap your car for cash today!

Car Batteries

Metals Found in Car Batteries

Car batteries contain valuable metals like lead, plus you can often get cash for the plastics too. The average price is $0.22/lb.

Environmental Benefits of Recycling

Recycling car batteries has significant environmental benefits. It helps in reducing landfill waste and conserving natural resources. Proper recycling ensures that harmful chemicals do not leak into the environment.

How to Safely Remove a Car Battery

  1. Wear protective gloves and goggles.
  2. Disconnect the negative terminal first, followed by the positive terminal.
  3. Carefully lift the battery out of the car, keeping it upright to avoid spills.
  4. Store the battery in a cool, dry place until you can take it to a recycling center.

Contemplating scrapping your car battery? Find out everything from average prices to how to recycle scrap batteries here.


Current Market Prices

Nickel is a highly valuable metal in the scrap industry. Current market prices for nickel can fluctuate, so it’s essential to stay updated. You can get the latest nickel scrap prices charts and hundreds of market-reflective nickel scrap prices, plus nickel scrap price trend outlooks.

Sources of Nickel

Nickel can be found in various sources, including:

  • Old batteries
  • Coins
  • Stainless steel items
  • Electronics

Recycling Challenges

Recycling nickel presents several challenges. The metal is often found in alloys, which can complicate the recycling process. Additionally, separating nickel from other metals requires specialized equipment and techniques.

Recycling nickel is crucial for reducing environmental impact and conserving natural resources.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a type of steel that contains chromium, which gives it excellent corrosion resistance and durability. It is commonly used in kitchen appliances, cutlery, medical instruments, and construction materials. Stainless steel scrap is highly recyclable and can be found in various forms, including sheets, pipes, and appliances. The value of stainless steel scrap depends on its grade, which determines its composition and properties. Higher grades of stainless steel, such as 304 and 316, are more valuable due to their higher chromium and nickel content.

Stainless steel is a fairly common metal, so it may not fetch as much money as other metal types. However, because you can find it in large volumes, you still stand to make a significant profit from stainless steel. Some sources of stainless steel include:

  • Old car parts
  • Cloth hangers
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Pipes
  • Refrigerators

To maximize the value of your stainless steel scrap, ensure it is clean and unalloyed. Contaminated or mixed stainless steel scrap is less valuable. Here are some tips for recycling stainless steel:

  1. Separate stainless steel from other metals.
  2. Clean the stainless steel to remove any contaminants.
  3. Sort the stainless steel by grade to get the best price.

Stainless steel scrap is in high demand due to its properties and versatility, making it one of the most valuable scrap metals.

Stainless steel is a versatile and durable material used in a wide range of applications, from household appliances to industrial machinery. If you have any unwanted stainless steel items, don’t let them go to waste. Visit our website to learn more about our free scrap metal collection services and how we can help you recycle responsibly.


Scrap metal recycling is not only an environmentally friendly practice but also a lucrative one. By focusing on high-value metals such as copper, aluminum, brass, and steel, individuals can maximize their earnings. Additionally, items like car batteries and ballast can also provide significant returns. Always remember to stay updated with current market prices and consult local scrap yards for the best advice. With the right knowledge and approach, turning scrap into cash can be a rewarding endeavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most valuable scrap metal?

Copper is generally considered the most valuable scrap metal. Depending on its form (e.g., wire, pipes), it can fetch up to $4.00 per pound.

What appliance has the most copper in it?

Large appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners typically contain a significant amount of copper, especially in their motors and wiring.

How much can I get for aluminum cans?

Aluminum cans can fetch an average of $0.15 to $0.50 per pound, depending on the current market prices and your location.

Are car batteries worth scrapping?

Yes, car batteries contain valuable metals like lead and can fetch around $0.22 per pound. Additionally, recycling car batteries is environmentally beneficial.

What are the legal considerations for scrapping a car?

When scrapping a car, you must ensure that you have proof of ownership and follow local regulations, which may include notifying the DMV and removing the license plates.

What metals are found in junk cars?

Junk cars contain a variety of valuable metals, including aluminum, steel, and copper. These metals can be recycled for cash.