If you have scrap metal that has been left just sitting around, it is highly likely that the metal has developed rust to some extent. When most metals are left out and exposed to the elements, they develop rust on their surface. Even though the appearance of rust on metal makes it seem as if the metal is ruined, most rusted metals are completely recyclable.

What is Rust?

Rust is a naturally occurring response that some corrosive metals have when they come in contact with both air and water over time. When metals such as iron and steel are exposed to water and oxygen, a natural reaction called a combustion reaction occurs and it leaves a reddish-brown flaky coat on the surface of the metal and combustion reactions will continue to occur so long as the metal is left out in the elements.

The process of rusting does not happen overnight, it can take days, weeks and even months, depending on the length of exposure to the elements. Rusted metals can be recycled, however, rust does diminish the value as it decreases the amount of usable metal, and if it gets to a point where a metal product has too much rust it may not be accepted.

Can I Recycle Rusted Metals?

Yes, ferrous scrap metals which contain iron and steel can be recycled if rusty, so long as the rust is not too extensive. When ferrous scrap metals are recycled, they go through a purification process which separates the salvageable metal from impurities such as rust and paint, but this process is only useful when more metal is recovered than rust. This means that if the rusting on a metal is extensive, only small amounts of metal can be recovered and due to that the metal may be rejected. If your scrap metal has extensive rusting that not only coats the surfaces but has for example caused large holes to form from the corrosion then the metal most likely isn’t worth recycling. Give us a call and we can discuss the extent of your rust and potential value of your scrap material

Getting the Best Scrap Metal Prices

The guaranteed way to get the best price for ferrous scrap metal is to prevent rust formation in the first place. This can be done by keeping your metal in a low humidity environment and using protective paints/coatings.

Most scrap metal recyclers will pay for items by weight, but they also consider things like the condition of the metal when it is brought in and this often means rusted metals bring a lower price than clean metals. In an effort to improve the condition of a metal, some people will try and clean the rust off and even though this may make the metal look better, far too often the cleaning goes too far. When the cleaning goes too far and too much of a metal has been cleaned off, this reduces the overall weight of the metal which means you will be making less money. This means, that if you have rusted metal laying around, leave the cleaning to the professionals to ensure you get the best price for your metal.

Top Tips for Recycling Rusted Metals

If you have scrap metal, here are a few tips to consider:

  • If you have scrap metal laying around and you aren’t ready to take it in to be recycled, you should cover it and protect from the elements to ensure you get the most money when you do bring the metal in for recycling.
  • Coat metals that are outside and being used (fences, lawn-furniture, etc) in a rust protection spray to prevent them from rusting which will help retain value.
  • If you have products with rust holes or other major rust damage, call Cozzi Recycling to confirm whether or not the product is recyclable before bringing your goods in or arranging pickup.

Cozzi Recycling

No matter the amount or size of the scrap metal you need removed and processed, Cozzi Recycling has the equipment necessary to get the job done. We have been serving businesses in Chicago and the surrounding areas for nearly 70 years, and we have always made it a priority to give our customers fair and honest treatment.