I used to be fascinated by the scrap metal trucks driving around town and often wondered how the world of scrap metal worked.
How much money are they making each day?
How much is the metal actually worth?
What do they do with it?
Then one day a few years ago I decided to find out for myself.
But first, if you only get one thing from this page, check this out.
The money in scrap metal is found in appliances!
But it’s from scrapping the appliances, it’s after you do a basic repair and resell the machine. You will get 20 times the $ if you repair the machine yourself. If you are interested in learning how to buy, sell and repair appliances for yourself, or for a part-time or full-time income, we’ve built an entire training course at Tradeskills.io. Check out the below case study video I made on how to make $200 in 30 minutes repairing a dryer.
Scrap metal yards purchase metal based on weight. You drive into the scrap yard and stop your vehicle (and trailer sometimes) on a large scale where they record your weight. You then drive over to the discharge pile and either unload your metal by hand or a giant excavator with a powered magnate can pick it up for you. I often will just unload it by hand as one slight error by the excavator operator can severely damage your truck or trailer.
After unloading the metal, you drive back out to another scale where you are weighed again, and either are cut a check or given a little atm card that’s redeemable for cash at the scrap yard atm. Depending on the time and day of the week, it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes to get in and out of the scrap yard.
What kind of metals are there?
Ferrous and non-ferrous.
Ferrous metals simply contain iron or alloys of iron such as stainless steel. This makes up the majority of scrap metal that is turned in.
The primary non-ferrous metals include aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, tin, titanium and zinc, and alloys such as brass. non-ferrous metals are worth a lot more per pound than ferrous metals and are often worth separating.
How much is scrap metal actually worth?
Currently, the closest scrap yard to me pays $195 per ton, or per 2,000 pounds for ferrous metals. This breaks down to approximately $10 per 100 pounds of metal. The price that scrap yards pay fluctuates with worldwide supply and demand and can change daily.
– Ferrous metal (most common)- $195/ton or approximate 10 cents per pound or $10 per 100 pounds
– #1 Bare Copper – $2.85/lb
For copper with the shield still on (like a power cord) they will pay you a % of the $2.85/pound, or approximately 60% of the weight. Most power cords have bare copper inside, as well as copper pipes that are used in plumbing.
– Aluminum – .50 cents/lb
You will often find aluminum in old windows and patio furniture. You have to break out the glass before you can turn in the aluminum.
Average Scrap prices for common items?
- Washing machine $18-$22 average weight 200 lbs.
- Dryer $8-$10 average weight 100 lbs.
- Refrigerator with top freezer $16-18 average weight with the compressor taken out 175 lbs.
- Side by side refrigerator $24-$28 average weight with the compressor removed 250 lbs.
- Ovens and ranges $11-$18 average weight 125 lbs.
- Full-size Gas BBQ $16-20 average weight 180 lbs.
- Cast iron bathtub $30-$40 average weight over 300 lbs.
All of these examples are for newer appliances. Many older appliances were made with thicker gauge steel and can weigh significantly more. For refrigerators and freezers, the compressor and freon must be removed by a licensed professional before they can be scrapped. It is much simpler, and often more profitable to look up your local utility company and ask them if they have an old refrigerator/freezer purchasing program. Many states have programs that pay as much as $40-$50 for them and they will pick the refrigerator or freezer up from your home.
Can you make a living collecting scrap metal?
Yes. It’s not uncommon for scrap collector to make $100-$200 cash per day. If you can get 1,000 lbs of metal in a day you’ve made $100 cash. It can be hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. A few years ago I picked up two die cast molds from a company that just wanted to get rid of them. They were extraordinary, heavy, weighing almost 1,500 lbs between the two of them. I walked away from the scrap yard with a check for $179.80 for those two cubes. Forty-five minutes earlier I was being smirked at by the guys who were giving me the metal as if I was a little crazy for taking such useless items off their hands.
Best methods for making a living collecting scrap metal?
1. Use a utility trailer with a ramp. Scrap metal can be messy and will rough up the back of a truck pretty quickly. Plus, it can be pretty difficult loading really heavy items into a truck.
2. Get metal from the craigslist free section. There is a lot of scrap metal given away on the free section every day. You must be quick to respond though.
3. Establish a recurring network of metal sources. Go to one apartment complex each day and meet the maintenance person. Give them a business card and tell them to call or email you whenever they have metal to get rid of. Be polite and show up looking professional. Shave. If you are pleasant to deal with and show up on time you can establish a lot of sources for scrap metal.
4. Don’t scrap everything. I got into buying and selling appliances because I realized some appliances aren’t worth scrapping. Some washers and dryers can be worth 10 times more if you spend a few dollars and repair them, and a little bit of time cleaning them up. At least set them aside and sell them to someone that repairs appliances. Metal shelves are often worth reselling, as well as lawnmowers and other power equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get paid for the metal?
The scrap yard will issue you a check or an atm card to get cash immediately for all your ferrous metals. For all non-ferrous metals, I believe most states issue you a check after two business days. This came about as an attempt to curb widespread theft of expensive metals across the country.
Do I need to take the plastic or rubber pieces off my appliances before I scrap them?
No. Scrap yards set their prices knowing that a certain percentage of what is brought in will be other materials. However, large pieces of wood, concrete or other heavy non-metallic materials will not be accepted.
Is there a minimum or maximum amount of metal I can bring it?
No, the scrap yards will buy any amount.
What about lawnmowers and other equipment with gas tanks?
They have to have the gas emptied out. Oil tanks need to be cleaned prior to scrapping often times need to have holes drilled in them.
Though we don’t collect scrap metal for a living, we do go to the scrap yard with a large load of old appliances a few times per week. The money we make from the metal pretty much pays for all our gas that we use. Let me know if you have any questions or there are any points or tips that I’ve left out. Hope you all are doing well and have a good weekend!
I think everyone needs to know this information. Thanks for posting Ryan.
Yes the info on scrapin is real i have been a scrpper for 20 years i will never work for somebody else. Scrapi.n also allows you to be your own boss work when you want. The money is great ask ask one mans junk is another man paycheck.$$$$$$$$ get cho scrap on
Hi Ryan! Not sure if you remember me but you coached me last year. Anyway, since we were still renting, we actually decided to get more into the scrapping business first. In the spring and summer last year, we put up a website and a page on Facebook and were making on average about $500 a week. One manager of a golf course even called us to pick up aluminum cans he had….about $200 dollars worth! So it can be very lucrative if you know what you’re doing. Now that we own our own house out in the country, we would like to start with appliances. Business on the scrapping side is starting to get busy again so I
m sure we’ll be getting some free appliances thrown our way!
I totally remember you, that’s awesome! Well done. Repairing appliances you get when doing scrap metal is a very wise decision, as it will greatly increase your profits. Keep me posted on your you guys are doing!
We will let you know for sure! Also, we will purchasing membership to your Appliance School as soon as we sell a few appliances. Your knowledge was invaluable.
Awesome, it will be great to have you!
What if you have an old car …. Can that be taken in ?
Yeah, but each yard has guidelines for what needs to be done to it prior to bringing it in. You might get more for parting it out though.
Do you have to break the steel apart from the wire from the aluminum, etc.? Or can you just take it into the scrap yard and they do all that? It sounds from your article like you just go in, weigh, unload and then weigh again. Do you have to separate anything?
You have to separate what you want to get paid more for, like aluminum, copper etc. If you don’t separate anything they will just pay you tin price. They also have different areas within the scrap yard to unload and weigh the different types of metal.
Hi Ryan How do they know what types of metal is brought in and what to pay since different types ie: aluminum, copper, have different payouts as I read they weigh the vehicle then pay the difference in the weight thx in advance
If you have other types of metal, you will drop that off and get it weighed separately than the rest of the load.
I have 4 huge old boilers in one of my building( the ones from 1920’s used to shovel coal in), plus the piping and many old motors. It will take alot of labor do you think it’s worth it. I think the boilers are cast iron
I think it would probably be worth it. How much weight do you you think there is?
One time I sold 69 pounds of aluminum wire and made $52.40
Thanks, Ryan this is very useful information. I am going to try to get it to work for me.
Awesome, glad to help!
Hi Ryan, I’m trying to scrap metal and aluminum as part time, and I was able to get metal hangers from a hospital to recycle them at the scrap yard, I get at least 200 hangers a week if not more, but the guy at the scrap yard said that I needed to have at least 50 boxes or 100 pounds of hangers, and they must be cut in sticks and put in the boxes, not just give them as hangers in order for him to consider them. Do you think that would be a good deal for me to get into? It looks time consuming to cut them down and save up the amount he said. Thanks.
That’s weird that they would want you to cut them up like that. If you have to cut them all up, I wouldn’t do it. That’s a lot of time and effort for not very much weight/$.
Yea I thought the same thing, its was weird but this was information that someone else gave me, I have not gone myself to this scrap yard yet, but if I let them know that I have over a hundred pounds of the metal, do you think they would consider it as is? I have them in bags right now. I also was wondering if the machines they use can handle it, I heard that because of the way hangers are shaped it get tangled in the machines, but that’s just hear say lol. Thanks for your advice, I might try going to another scrap yard and see what they say.
Our scrap yard here takes all metal. I would call yourself and see what they say. It will probably be fine.
Hey I’ve been reading a lot of your stuff ur very knowledgable about this I have a lawn mower old TVs and a dryer I just want to know how much u think I’ll get for it bc I just got a new v8 truck nd I wanna know if it’s even worth driving to a scrap yard
Most places won’t take Tv’s. The mower would be better off either being fixed, or parted out by someone that fixes them then scrapped. The dryer is worth about $10, depending on metal prices in your city. It might not be worth it on that small of a load.
I noticed something wierd the last time I was at the scrap metal yard. A truck from a local appliance shop dumped a bunch of older washer and dryers. This shop only sells new appliances, So I imagine they dumped the older ones that they hauled away from their customers.
Do you think it would be worth offering to buy their old washers and dryers for slightly more than scrap prices? Is this something you have ever tried yourself?
Great question. Places like that usually sell the more desired used appliances that they haul away to other used appliance shops. The ones that no one wants, or that aren’t worth fixing are the ones that often end up at the scrap yard. I take a load a week myself, and you could be watching me dump 6-8 appliances at a time. Not every appliance is worth fixing. That being said, it still could be worth at least asking them what they do with them, and if they sell them, ask them for how much. The trick is being very picky about which make/models you want and that are worth repairing. I go over that in detail in the ApplianceSchool
We have bought from places like this before, but the machines were often picked through so we stopped. But every city is different.
Great info! I am a property manager for an apartment community and want to start scrapping part time. The problem is that I don’t have a pick up or trailer. I have a VW jetta(leased) with a OK size trunk, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it for me to start this way. If yes, how do I prevent damage to my car? Will a trunk be a large enough space to get started? Any suggestions would be appreciated?
I wouldn’t use a nice car like that unless you are just taking in high value copper wire and other more expensive metals, and even then you don’t want to scratch up your car. I would save up a decent sized load and then borrow a friends truck, or…get a small tow hitch and smaller trailer to pull behind your car to take the metal in. But that’s just a temporary solution. Long run you want to get a little pickup truck to do the hauling. Start selling appliances as well and you won’t have any problem paying for that truck!
I have an old free-weight set. 300 lbs. of weights, plus bar (all in good shape) and the bench and other attachments. Just wondering if I could get any cash for it?
In Portland where we live you could get $25-$30 for it. Just depends on the size of city you live in, and how far the metal needs to be transferred to it’s next location.
How are you Ryne, do you think is good idea to start small scrap metal business buying scrap from small location.
I think that sounds like a great idea. Especially if you are the only one around doing it, you will end up with a lot of appliances, many of which could be repaired!
Hi Ryan. I currently have about 10 metal candy machines. These are the kind that you put quarters in and they dispense candy and gumballs. they are very heavy. Do you think the scrap metal yard would pay for these? If so, how much do you think they would give? Thanks
Depends on the city you are in. Just give them a call. My scrap yards in my city pay about $10 per 100 pounds. You have to decide if they are worth more selling them to someone that might use them over just scrapping them, obviously. Your call. Hope that helps!
Hey Ryan, what about whole cars?
You can get hundreds of dollars when scrapping whole cars. Obviously depends on how big the car/truck is etc.
what does a broken fridge usually fetch? I have several to get rid of
Completely depends on the size. Anywhere from $10-$30 or so.
I have a cast iron laundry tub how much would that scrap for?
$20-$30 depending on which city you are in.
Hey ryan how do I break down a stove do.junk yards.take.lawnmowers as well
They will take stoves whole, in one piece, just like the rest of appliances. No need to break it down. Lawn mowers just need to have the gas drained out of the tank. Hope that helps!
I have a bunch of metal lifting weights. A 45 lb bar and 45, 35, 25, 10, and 5 lb plates to go along with it. Can that be scrapped for cash?
You could scrap them for cash but you will get a lot more for them selling them on Craigslist.
How much money will you get out of a van sliding door and a passenger door
Maybe 10-20 dollars tops.
Another option for people who don’t have a trailer if you stock pile your metal in a shed then or come across a lot of valuable metal just rent a trailer from a a uhaul or another rental service it’s like $10 for the day for a trailer here in Canada but we don’t have refrigerators cause we live in igloos lol cheers hope that helps
I would like to start trying to make a living by scrapping. I live in a little travel trailer on someones property and I cant have anything there. My question is where can I keep this stuff till I have a load. Or do you think I could do it piece by piece.
I would just pick up larger loads of scrap and then take them to the scrap yard at the end of the day. Don’t mess around with smaller loads that you would have to possibly pay to store somewhere. It wouldn’t be worth it in my opinion.
What about an a/c unit, 2.5 ton? Since there’s no way to know if it works without connecting and filling with R22 it would be hard to sell as working. It was supposedly working when removed from a home. When needs to be removed before taking to a scrap yard or what do you suggest?
It’s better not to mess with AC’s as most yards won’t accept them unless you have proof you had the refrigerant removed.
What do you have to do to a vehicle before scrapping,
I would call your local car crusher or scrap yard and check with them just to be safe and not waste any time.
Wow! Fantastic stuff !
When considering metal scrap recycling, it is important that people understand why to do so. Of course, most people do realize that recycling of used metal commodities allows preserving natural resources and energy, but few people know precisely, how beneficent it is to recycle metals. In your article you give an accurately elaborated list of reasons for scrap metal recycling, which must motivate people to treat their waste more responsibly. It is also very important for people to understand, that scrap recycling, as you’ve remarked, is a driving force for economy, as the industry creates thousands of green jobs worldwide.
Hey Ryan! 🙂
First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for the awesome article! :3
Secondly, I’m very interested into getting into scrapping metal for a few dollars here and there, but I’ve got a few question.
*I live fairly close to a scrapyard geographically (2.6 km) – do you think that it’d be worthwhile to pick up a large appliance from a neighbour throwing it out (stove, washer, etc…) and lug it to the yard with a dolley?
*I’m currently not of the age of majority where I live – this won’t be a problem for turning in scrap, right?
*Earlier, you said that scrapyards would take any amount – did you mean anything within reasonable limits, or would they turn me away if I showed up with only two or three pounds of aluminum, or a single lead-acid battery?
*The yard I live near buys “electronics and computers”, would that be likely to include circuit boards and other similar components like CD drives?
*What is “Irony Aluminum”, and how can I tell the difference between No.1 and No.2 Steel, or No.1, No.2 and No.3 copper?
*Do you think it would be possible to make a living from scrap without driving (as in, using a dolly, bike trailer, or similar non-motorised devices) or is a car a must to make scrapping into your day job?
Hmm, never mind on that first one. After a quick check ($70.00/metric tonne on appliances) I worked out I’d be getting around $4 for a stove if I was lucky. Sorry about that 😛
Will scrap yards take nails that are rusted?
My grandfather owned a fishing tackle business and I have a large metal trashcan full of lead that has been melted down into bars. Where is the best place to sell?
I would just call your local scrap yard or buyer and ask if they purchase lead.
Are the below prices still a good rule of thumb…
Washing machine $18-$22 average weight 200 lbs.
Dryer $8-$10 average weight 100 lbs.
Refrigerator with top freezer $16-18 average weight with the compressor taken out 175 lbs.
Side by side refrigerator $24-$28 average weight with the compressor removed 250 lbs.
Ovens and ranges $11-$18 average weight 125 lbs.
Full size Gas BBQ $16-20 average weight 180 lbs.
Cast iron bathtub $30-$40 average weight over 300 lbs.
Prices have gone down quite a bit and I would say they are about at 1/4 of your above examples.
Did you mean 25% less? Or 25% of his quote as in 75% less? That would be like $2.50 per 100lb, $25 per ton, as in, what would be the point in messing with any of this? Could you please clarify?
Yeah, 25% of the price from a few years ago. Yeah it’s probably about $2.50 per 100 lbs and not worth it except for the money you would save having to pay to dump the metal at a local garbage dump.
I have a rather large metal/steel barn that I want removed from my property. It fits 2 cars and has partial second level. Have no idea what it could weigh but what kind of pricing would that get in NY if you know and would a scrapper break it down and split the money with me generally, or how would that work? Thanks for any advice on that.
Unfortunately the labor involved in such a project would consume the $ that you would get for the metal.
which metal recycling center would pay more in clackamas or portland?
Probably Metro Metals in Portland
What bout lead tire weights. Are they worth scrapping
Probably not worth separating them away from other metals that you are recycling.
Do you have to cut up appliances into pieces before scrapping them? And what if the metal is coated with paint, does that have to be removed?
Nope, you can scrap them as is.
Will scrap dealers take old farm stuff like disks plow rusred up ?
Yup if it’s metal, including rust, they’ll take it.
Hey what about small window unit ac…. An microwave oven… An do they take the big gas heater that hang on the wall….
The window ac will need to have the freon removed, so probably not that.But the microwave and gas heater they will take.
Ive been scraping for 10 years and im a girl i have a biss account w my scrap yard the better u clean ur metal like taken screws out of ur aluminum the more u make and make sure its seperated prop its really hard work but yes the money can be good