Sorting scrap metal can be challenging whether you’re a first-time recycler or a seasoned scrapper. For best results, we recommend the following system:
Set Up Your Containers
It’s best to have a separate container for each type and grade of scrap metal that you have, as this makes the sorting, delivery, and grading quick and easy. Clearly label all of the containers to avoid confusion.
Don’t forget that if you need containers—especially commercial-size, heavy duty ones—we can provide you with containers at no cost to you, and we can even drop them off at your location for bulk collection.
Use A Magnet To Sort Out Ferrous Metals
Ferrous metals (iron, steel) have iron and are magnetic, while non-ferrous metals (brass, copper, aluminum) aren’t magnetic. The quickest way to sort out ferrous metals is to run a magnet over your scrap materials and pull aside the items that are attracted to the magnet.
Sort The Non-Ferrous Metals
Once you’ve removed the ferrous metals from your scrap pile, you can begin sorting the non-ferrous metals. You’ll need an Analyzer to determine the exact type and grading, but our expert technicians can handle that part when you get to the recycling facility. For now, just sort the materials by look and feel.
Copper – has an iconic color, so it’s pretty easy to pick out. You’ll find it in wire, cables, and pipes. Be careful not to mistake red brass for copper if you come across that material in plumbing fixtures.
Red brass – has copper in the alloy so it’s on the same color spectrum, but it’ll be a different shade of red.
Brass – outside of red brass, the vast majority of brass is yellow.
Gold – it’s rare to come across gold in scrap materials, but you may find small amounts in electrical components and decorative design pieces.
Aluminum – this metal is often confused with steel, but the magnet test should easily separate your aluminum (non-ferrous) from steel (ferrous). Aluminum is a much lighter metal, has a matte silver color, and is usually softer/malleable.
Sort The Ferrous Metals
The most common ferrous metals that you’ll come across are going to be steel, stainless steel, iron, tin, and lead.
Steel – steel is typically a solid, strong material that’s notably heavier than the other metals. Steel that’s been subject to the elements may be rust colored.
Stainless steel – stainless steel is similarly heavy, though it’s important to note that stainless steel doesn’t rust.
Lead – lead is usually dark gray, and most commonly found in car batteries.
Tin – tin is often easier to spot by feel, as it can be bent and usually makes a crackling sound when you bend it.
Cast iron – cast iron will typically appear rusty when it’s been exposed to the elements for a while, and it will break into pieces if you drop it from a sufficient height (that’s actually one of the best cast iron tests if you’re trying to figure out what type of metal you’ve got). Cast iron can come from a variety of scrap items including castings, coil, old water piping, machinery plates, fireplace grates, sewer plates, stoves, sinks, bath tubs, gates, and some radiators.
Sort By Cleanliness
Clean metals are worth more than dirty metals that have rust, dirt, mud, and other contaminants. It’s best to remove the attachments and separate the materials as much as possible (e.g. remove rubber stripping, screws, plastic, etc.). If you have mixed materials (like aluminum gutters with steel screws), you’ll get a better price by separating them. Removing attachments doesn’t always have the greatest return for cheaper metals, but it can significantly affect the value of more expensive metals like copper.
Bring Your Containers To Cozzi Recycling
Once you have everything sorted, bring your materials to Cozzi Recycling or have Cozzi Recycling pick-up depending on the size of your load. Our expert technicians will weigh your materials and determine the type and grade using an Analyzer. If you’re unsure about materials and metals, our team can answer your questions and help you finish sorting. We ensure fair, honest, and optimum pricing, so you can trust that you’re getting top dollar for your materials.