If you have some scrap metal lying around you can make money by selling it to a nearby scrap yard that repurposes metal. This lets you recycle metals like iron, copper, and steel, plus other metals, and earn some cash. If you’re wondering ‘where can I find a scrap yard near me to sell metal?’, there are numerous local options.
With people becoming more responsible consumers, recycling is increasingly popular. Some scrap yards are a good option to sell old electronics for cash, but you can sell many other items, including:
- Old appliances
- Cast-iron bathtubs
- Full-size gas BBQ
- Out-of-commission cars
Learn more about scrap metal prices and how to maximize your earnings now.
Table of Contents
Scrap Yard Near Me: How to Make More on Your Metal
Are you wondering ‘where can I sell scrap metal near me?’ and make money? Here are the seven best ways to ensure you can earn more money for your junk.
1. Know What Your Metals Are Worth
Scrap metal recycling falls into two categories – ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
Ferrous metals include:
- Cast iron
- Stainless steel
Harder to come by, non-ferrous metals are worth more and include:
Prices and pay vary based on your location, but non-ferrous metals go for a lot more. For example, scrapping stainless steel may net you $0.10 to $1 a pound, but scrapping copper may get you closer to $2 or $4 a pound.
This is also why gold and silver are such popular buys.
Some states have laws in place regarding non-ferrous metals. For example, in South Carolina you need a license to sell non-ferrous metals.
These laws are established so people don’t steal precious metals and flip them for money. Some laws aren’t as black and white, so make sure to check with scrap yards nearby to ensure you aren’t doing anything illegal.
You can also consult the Institute of Scrap Metal Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) to learn more about recycling scrap metal and how it works.
2. Get Price Quotes
The best way to get more cash for your metal is to go to a scrap yard that pays you the most for what you have. If you live in a bigger city, you should have a few different places to take your metal.
Call around for the best rate.
Don’t forget to ask about the different price points for each metal. Aluminum cans might not make you a lot of money, but the copper wiring you found on the road just might.
What can I expect to receive for scrap metal prices?
Pricing varies for scrap metal, but it’s helpful to know what you can expect, on average.
- Cast-iron bathtub (300 lbs.) : $30 – $40
- Dryer (100 lbs.) : $8 – $10
- Full-size BBQ (180 lbs.) : $16 – $20
- Ovens (125 lbs.) : $11 – $18
- Refrigerator (175 lbs.) : $16 – $20
- Washing machine (200 lbs.) : $18 – $20
Check out the iScrap app for quick pricing on other scrap metal items.
3. Take As Much As Possible
The more metal you recycle, the more cash you will receive. Aluminum cans are easy to find, great to scrap, and even make you feel better because you’re keeping them out of landfills.
A few garbage bags of empty Coke cans isn’t going to net you much. However, having 1,000 pounds of metals including appliances, lawn mowers, and HVAC copper wire will earn you significantly more.
A scrap yard is often more willing to work with you and negotiate a fair price if you have a lot to offer.
Don’t worry about not getting all of your metal counted towards your pay. Metal scrap yards make it easy to see what you’re earning for your items.
The yard will weigh your vehicle before you drop off the metal. Then you’ll dump the metal into the yard in a designated area. After that, your vehicle will be weighed again and the difference in pounds will be converted to cash.
4. Borrow A Truck
If you only have a small car, you won’t be able to bring as much metal to the scrap metal yard. So instead of using your car, borrow or rent a large truck. If you want to sell used appliances for cash, for example, you will need a larger vehicle.
The best trucks are those with ramps.
Try to borrow a truck from a friend, if you can. Offer to split a bit of the metal profits as an incentive.
Renting a truck will eat into your profits. However, if you have enough metal, you could still net a profit.
5. Separate Metals
The best way to make more when you sell scrap metal is to separate your items. While you can lump some metals together, you most likely won’t receive the best return by doing so.
Label what you have, especially if the metals are non-ferrous and costly. You’ll get more back if you scrap copper by itself versus with other metals.
Also, strip down appliances and other large items like HVAC units. They have various metals running through them, so scrapping them as a whole could cost you money in the long run.
If you come across copper wire in plastic coating, make sure you strip the coating off. A magnet is a helpful tool to separate metals, because:
- Ferrous metals are magnetic
- Non-ferrous metals are not magnetic
By using a magnet you can easily separate the two. You can then break them down even further into groups for lead, steel, copper, aluminum, etc.
You can scrap dirty metal (think a gross oven), but you should clean your metal if you’re able, as it will net you more money.
6. Add In Copper and Aluminum If You Can
Because scrap yards pay little for certain metals, try to add more expensive metals to your haul so you can make more money. Copper is one of the most expensive metals that you can sell to a scrap yard, and it’s more common than you think.
HVAC units and copper piping could all work. Brass also pays well. Aluminum may not pay as well as copper and brass, but it’s easy to find.
*Related: Want to sell your car via private party? Read our guide on how to sell a car on Craigslist to learn how to get top dollar.*
Almost all of our items are made with at least traces of aluminum, so it shouldn’t be hard to safely pick it up from curbs or Craigslist ads.
7. Scrap Old Christmas Lights
Who knew old Christmas lights could make you some money? Those tangled cords and half-broken things could actually net you a pretty penny, as they probably contain copper.
While old Christmas lights won’t make you a fortune selling them at a scrap yard, they are a great item to add to your bags of metal, and they’re cheap to find.
Many people have old lights they want to get rid of, and even thrift stores and department stores sell them cheaply after the holidays.
By scrapping Christmas lights, not only are you taking them off people’s hands that don’t want them and keeping them out of a landfill, but you could also earn a decent profit if you can acquire enough.
How to Find Local Scrap Yards to Recycle Metal
If you want to recycle metal for money, you may wonder where to find a scrap metal place. There are multiple resources you can use to find a local scrap yard, including:
- Your local phone book
- Google – use terms like ‘metal scrap yard near me’, ‘local scrap yards’, ‘scrap yard near me open today’, ‘metal recycling near me’, and ‘junkyard near me’ to find a location near you
- Use the iScrap app to find local metal scrap yards
Most cities have scrap yards, so a few minutes of work should result in options to recycle metal.
Can You Make A Living Selling Scrap Metal?
If you’re willing to put in the effort, it is possible to make decent money on the side selling scrap metal. However, it is hard work and you need to be knowledgeable about what you’re doing.
While it’s not that difficult to earn several hundred dollars, it does take determination and a plan.
For most, it isn’t a way to replace a day job. But it can be a legit side hustle if you know what you’re doing.
Recycling scrap metal is a legit side hustle. If you have the desire and time, it’s a good way to make extra cash.
By following the above tips, you could get more cash for your metal and make some decent money. Scrap yards are always looking for new customers who can bring the metal to them, so don’t be afraid to recycle old appliances and other items when you can.
How much money have you made selling metal to scrap yards? What are other things you’ve done to make extra money? Would you sell Christmas lights for money?
Kim Suazo has been a freelance writer and business owner for over four years. When she's not writing for Frugal Rules, you can find her on other publications like Chime, Discovery, and Due. She also owns her own websites The Entrepremomer and Part-Time Profit, where she teaches overworked moms how to streamline their new businesses so they can scale without a team.