Collecting and recycling scrap metal is a lucrative side-hustle that allows you to earn money from discarded items like cars, appliances, and electrical equipment. However, to maximize your earnings, it’s essential to know which types of scrap metal pay the most. This article will guide you through the most valuable types of scrap metal and how you can benefit from recycling them.

Key Takeaways

  • Copper is one of the most valuable scrap metals, especially in the form of wiring, tubing, and pipes.
  • Aluminum is popular due to its lightweight nature and profitability, with items like cans, sheets, and siding being highly sought after.
  • Brass offers a good return on investment, particularly from fixtures, plumbing, and hardware.
  • Precious metals like platinum, gold, and silver can yield high returns, making them worth the effort to collect.
  • Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and easy to recycle, making it a beneficial option for scrap collectors.

The Value of Copper in Scrap Metal

Copper Wiring

Copper wiring is one of the most valuable items to scrap. It can earn as much as $4.00 per pound, making it a top choice for scrappers. Copper is king when it comes to scrap metal due to its high value and relatively light weight, which makes it easier to handle compared to heavier metals like steel or iron.

Copper Tubing

Copper tubing is another highly valuable scrap item. Its versatility and high demand in various industries contribute to its worth. To maximize your earnings, ensure that the copper tubing is clean and free from any contaminants. This will help you get the best price at the recycling center.

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are also a lucrative option for scrappers. They are commonly found in plumbing and heating systems, making them relatively easy to source. Separating uncontaminated copper from soldered or painted pieces can significantly improve the value of your scrap copper. Always inform the recycling center operator about the type and condition of the copper you have to avoid it being graded as contaminated.

For most scrappers, copper is the king of scrap metal because it gains as much as $2 to $4 per pound. When it comes to scrap metal, that’s a pretty high amount, especially compared to other metals like aluminum or brass.

Why Aluminum is a Popular Choice

Aluminum is one of the most versatile and widely available metals, making it an excellent option for those looking to start scrapping metal. Recycling aluminum reduces waste, saves energy, provides revenue to companies and individuals who choose to recycle it and also conserves natural resources. Whether it’s soda cans, bicycles, or even car parts, aluminum can be found in many household items and is always worth something when scrapped correctly at a recycling center.

The Profitability of Brass

Brass is one of the metals that are less popular, yet very easy to find in most households. Lamp fittings, taps, or doorknobs, these are all products that can contain brass. Brass is also frequently used in plumbing components, so when you replace your dishwasher, take out its pipes and exchange them for money.

Brass Fixtures

Brass fixtures are commonly found in households and can be a good source of scrap metal. Items like lamp fittings, taps, and doorknobs often contain brass. Because it is not easily available, scrap metal dealers may buy brass at a high price.

Brass Plumbing

Brass is often used in plumbing components. You might find that some of the fixtures connecting things like dishwashers to the pipes are made of brass. Mechanical bearings and gears might also be made of brass.

Brass Hardware

Brass can be found in many places, including bed springs, door locks, candlesticks, trophies, and hinges. However, brass is often mixed with other metals like steel or aluminum, so it’s essential to take the time to sort through what you’ve gathered before taking it in for scrap, so you’ll know how much your items are worth.

In fact, most old items that glitter are most probably made out of brass, and you can take them to rubbish collection or waste removal and get a fairly high price.

Scrapping Precious Metals for High Returns

Scrapping precious metals can be incredibly lucrative, especially when dealing with items like platinum jewelry, gold items, and silverware. Platinum is valued at over $990/oz, making it one of the most profitable metals to scrap. Gold follows closely at $1,886/oz, while silver is valued at over $22/oz. These high values make precious metals a top choice for those looking to maximize their returns.

Platinum Jewelry

Platinum jewelry is not only valuable but also in high demand. Its high price per ounce makes it a prime target for scrappers. When scrapping platinum jewelry, ensure that you sort and separate different types of metals to get the best price.

Gold Items

Gold items, including jewelry and coins, are always in demand. The high value of gold makes it a profitable option for scrappers. Remember to check the purity of the gold, as higher purity items will fetch a better price.


Silverware, including utensils and decorative items, can also be quite valuable. While not as high in value as platinum or gold, silver still offers a good return. Make sure to clean and sort your silverware to get the best price.

One of the essential tips for maximizing returns on scrap metal recycling is to sort and separate different types of metals. Sorting metals into categories can significantly increase your profits.

The Benefits of Recycling Stainless Steel

Recycling stainless steel offers numerous advantages, both economically and environmentally. One of the main advantages of recycled stainless steel is its sustainability. By using scrap metal instead of mining new materials, it helps reduce the demand for raw resources and minimizes environmental impact. Additionally, metals like steel are infinitely recyclable, meaning they can be reused without losing their structural integrity or durability.

Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel is commonly found in household appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers. These items often contain valuable stainless steel components that can be recycled. Collecting and recycling these appliances not only provides a source of income but also helps in reducing waste and conserving natural resources.

Stainless Steel Utensils

In the kitchen, stainless steel utensils, cutlery, and cookware are prevalent. Items like old cutlery and catering equipment are worth scrapping due to their stainless steel content. Recycling these items ensures that the metal is reused, contributing to a more sustainable environment.

Stainless Steel Scrap

Stainless steel scrap can come from various sources, including construction sites, automotive parts, and even old coat hangers. While it may not be as valuable as some other metals, it is still worth taking to a scrap yard. The accessibility and commonality of stainless steel make it a reliable source of recyclable material.

Recycling stainless steel not only provides economic benefits but also plays a crucial role in environmental conservation. By opting for recycled materials, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable future.

Lead: A Heavyweight in Scrap Metal

Lead is one of the most profitable metals you’re likely to find. However, it is one of the most difficult to obtain in its pure form due to its toxic nature. If you do want to scrap lead, ensure you take all the relevant precautions. It is also extremely heavy, making it tricky to transport, but most scrap metal merchants will be keen to recycle it.

Lead Pipes

Lead pipes, often found in older homes, are a valuable source of scrap lead. Removing these pipes not only provides a good return but also improves safety by eliminating a potential health hazard.

Lead Weights

Lead weights are another household item that might be knocking around and are well worth bringing in. These weights are commonly used in various applications, from fishing to balancing tires.

Lead Sheets

Lead sheets are used in construction and other industries due to their malleability and resistance to corrosion. Recycling lead sheets can be quite profitable, given the current market prices for lead.

Iron: Abundant and Recyclable

Iron is one of the most abundant metals on Earth and is widely used in various industries. Recycling iron is not only environmentally friendly but also economically beneficial. Iron yields a decent return at approximately $87.00 per ton or $0.0435 per pound, making it a viable option for scrappers.

Iron Fencing

Iron fencing is a common source of scrap metal. It is durable and often found in large quantities, making it a lucrative option for recycling. When scrapping iron fencing, ensure that it is free from any non-metallic materials to get the best price.

Iron Tools

Old iron tools are another excellent source of scrap metal. These tools are often made entirely of iron and can be easily recycled. Look for items like hammers, wrenches, and other hand tools that are no longer in use.

Iron Appliances

Household appliances such as washing machines, stoves, and refrigerators often contain a significant amount of iron. These items are usually heavy, so they can yield a good amount of scrap metal. Before recycling, make sure to remove any non-metallic parts to maximize your return.

Recycling iron is a straightforward process that can provide a decent return while helping to reduce environmental impact. You might be surprised by the abundance of valuable scrap metal lying around in common household items.

Iron is one of the most abundant and recyclable metals on the planet. At Avram Scrap Metal Collections, we specialize in collecting and recycling all types of iron and other ferrous metals, ensuring they don’t end up in landfills. Whether you’re a homeowner or a business, we offer free collection services to make recycling easy and hassle-free. Visit our website to learn more about our services and how you can contribute to a greener planet.


In conclusion, the scrap metal industry offers a lucrative opportunity for those willing to invest time and effort into collecting and recycling various types of metals. Among the most valuable metals, copper stands out as the highest paying, often referred to as the ‘king’ of scrap metals due to its high demand and significant return per pound. Other metals such as aluminum, brass, and high-grade steel also offer substantial returns, making them worthwhile targets for scrap collectors. By understanding the market value of different metals and staying informed about current prices, individuals can maximize their earnings. Always remember to prioritize safety and consult with local scrap yards to get the best advice and prices for your scrap metal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest paying scrap metal?

Copper is generally considered the highest paying scrap metal, fetching around $4.00 per pound depending on the form (e.g., wiring, tubing).

Which scrap metals will earn you the most money?

The most valuable scrap metals include copper, aluminum, brass, and high-grade steel. Precious metals like platinum, gold, and silver are also highly valuable.

What appliance has the most copper in it?

Large appliances like refrigerators and air conditioning units typically contain the most copper, especially in their motors and wiring.

How much can you earn from recycling aluminum cans?

Recycling aluminum cans can earn you between $0.15 to $0.50 per pound, depending on the current market rates.

Is brass a profitable scrap metal to recycle?

Yes, brass is quite profitable to recycle, earning between $2.30 to $2.75 per pound. It’s commonly found in fixtures, plumbing, and hardware.

What are the benefits of recycling stainless steel?

Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and easy to recycle, making it a popular choice. It typically earns around $0.23 per pound.