When most people think of selling scrap metal, they picture the loaded down pick-up trucks traveling down the highway with pieces of steel sticking out haphazardly from the overflowing bed. This is also where a lot of scrappers make their grocery money.
However, the real difference between the average scrapper and the successful businessperson is in their knowledge of the craft. Anybody can throw a bunch of junk into their trailer and make a couple of extra dollars, but the experienced scrapper knows that the real money in the scrap metal business is made in selling precious metals, such as gold, silver, and platinum.
Often, these precious metals, which can be valued at up to $1580 an ounce, can be found within larger pieces of machinery that is scrapped at the base scrap steel rate of near ten cents a pound!
Of course these precious metals are found in relatively meager amounts in these places, but it does not take much volume to net you a nice profit. The trick is to know where to locate the precious metals within the larger pieces of machinery. You have to do your research.
The easiest of the precious metals to find is copper (usually considered semi-precious). Almost all machinery and motors have copper inside them, due to copper’s conductive properties. 95% of the wires that you find will have copper inside them.
Whenever you find copper, it is worth saving. Copper has a current spot price of $3.60 a pound. Even copper that is sealed inside motors and transformers can be sold at significantly increased rates over their base metals by selling it as copper breakage. Most scrap metal dealers will have a set rate for copper breakage, or electric motors, which currently sells for about thirty cents a pound, or three times more than scrap steel.
I remember the first time I took a load of scrap to the scrap metal yard. I had a truck bed overloaded with steel, and several large boxes of stripped copper. I was very surprised when the boxes of copper netted me almost as much money as the truck bed full of steel.
Again, copper is very easy to find. Start by saving all of the power cords that you see. If you see electrical items for free at garage sales, you should at least be saving the power cords for scrap copper. If something breaks or stops working in your home, cut the power cord off and save it. You should also disassemble appliances for interior copper and other precious metals.
The question often arises, as to whether the thrifty scrapper is further ahead to simply throw copper wires into a box and sell it as insulated copper, or to strip the insulation off and get the higher value for the non-insulated ‘clean’ copper. After doing a fair amount of research, the consensus seems to be that standard house wires and similar sized wires should be sold as insulated copper wires. Larger wires that would qualify as #1 copper should be stripped and sold as clean copper. Generally, #1 copper is considered to be any bare wire that is larger than a standard No.2 pencil lead and has a single layer of insulation. Anything smaller than that is #2 copper. #3 copper is telephone wires and computer cables.
Of course, if you have lots of spare time, feel free to make the extra profit and strip insulation to your heart’s content, but remember – time is money.
Decorative solid copper items and copper tubing can also be found rather routinely at sales and thrift shops. Remember to keep your magnet with you. Non-magnetic clean copper can be sold for about $3 a pound. Non-magnetic copper coated ferrous metals are sold as copper breakage – thirty cents a pound.
You can also find gold and silver within the metal appliances and electronic scrap that you find discarded in various locations. This is where you can really make some extra dough. Silver currently spots at over $29 a troy ounce and gold sells for over $1580 a troy ounce. It does not take much gold or silver to make some nice money.
Where can I find this gold and silver, you may ask? Ah… That is question, isn’t it? There is a ton of information on locating scrap silver and gold on the internet. Several excellent links have been provided for you in the free internet links at the end of this document.
To make a long story short, there are several locations where you can consistently find silver and gold in electronics and machinery. Computers have a fair amount of gold in the fingers on the connectors of the circuit boards, and also within the CPU processor chips. The older the computer is, the higher the gold content, in most cases. Some of the older circuit boards are actually gold plated.
Another good place to find silver and gold is in electrical contacts. While these contacts are often small and worth only 25 cents to a dollar, some silver contacts in vintage industrial machinery can be worth $20 a piece. I have found solid silver contacts in 1950s industrial lifts that weighed almost two ounces, or over $50 a piece!
This can be to your advantage, because a lot of the free electronics and machinery you are going to find are going to be old rusty vintage items. It is quite common to find 1950s or 60s electrical junk laying there in the woods, waiting for you to take it home and disassemble it.
Some other common places to find gold and silver is in thin interior wires in vintage electronics, some gold faced diodes in computers, vintage rotary telephone and telecommunications items, vintage video game systems, and inside cellular telephones.
I have provided an excellent link for several publications that I have bought and picked up a tremendous amount of information from, regarding the harvest of gold, silver and platinum from electronics, dental scrap, and other sources. I highly recommend that you check them out.
You can also find gold and silver quite regularly at sales and thrift shops, once you know what you are looking for. You would be surprised at how many sterling silver items that you can find at thrift shops once you get a knowledge base and start looking for them. Many of the people that price the items in thrift shops do not use current spot prices to price with, and you can often get a great bargain just by knowing the spot price and how to identify different types of precious metals.
There are many books and internet pages devoted to identifying gold and silver in its different forms, and also how to evaluate the gold content by using scratch-tests and strike sets. By all means, please take the time to research in this area while you are reading about how to find “Almost Free” items.
This book is devoted to locating free or almost free sources of income. You will not find “karat” gold or sterling silver items very often for cheap, but if you have done your homework, it is very possible to buy these items and resell them for a nice profit, so do your reading on this subject.
What we are going to discuss in this book is where to find gold and silver for free! Yes, that’s right. I have found hundreds of dollars’ worth of gold and silver just lying around in the woods and in junk piles, just waiting to be reclaimed. Does it have the romance of panning for gold in a mountain stream Out West? No, it doesn’t. But the value is the same – gold is gold, plain and simple.
Where do we find this free gold and silver, you ask? Well, it’s all around you. Gold and silver are among the most conductive of metals, which make them highly useful in a wide array of electronics and machinery. Gold and silver also are very resistant to abrasion and they do not oxidize (rust), which makes them the primary metals used in electronic contact points, and shiny surface coating for decorative items.
What is most important in locating gold and silver is to understand where it has been used. This is accomplished through diligent research, including the reading of this book. Remember, it does not take much gold or silver material to add up to significant profits.
If you can collect enough gold plated items or gold contacts to add up to one troy ounce of gold, then you have “mined” enough material to equal seven or eight large truck-loads of scrap steel! Gold currently spot-prices at close to $1620 a troy ounce. Silver, which is used more than gold, prices at close to $30 an ounce.
The historical price of gold is also important to understand (and silver historically parallels the gold price). The price of gold per ounce stayed fairly constant at between $35-40 from 1935 all the way up until 1971, when the US Dollar was removed from the Gold Standard. After 1971, the price of gold jumped from $40 an ounce to $150 an ounce by 1974, and then up to $615 by 1980. Do you think there’s going to be a difference in how much gold was plated onto costume jewelry, gold rimmed plates, and eyeglass frames in 1968 when gold was $35 an ounce compared to 1995, when gold was $380 dollars an ounce? You betcha.
Even throughout the 1980s and 90s, gold stayed fairly steady at between $350 and $400, except for a spike in prices in the year 1980, when gold hit $615 an ounce. It wasn’t until 2005 that the price of gold really skyrocketed. So, there is still significant gold to be found in items that are not all that old, relatively speaking.
That being said, the PRIME decade for finding the most gold and silver in electronics and decorations is from about 1961 to 1971. This is the time period when gold and silver had the most uses, and electronics from the era were often heavily plated with silver, and sometimes gold. Manufacturers were much more lenient in the application of gold and silver – remember, gold was only $35 an ounce, compared to over $1500 an ounce today.
It is common to find electronics from the 1960s for next to nothing at garage sales, thrift stores, or even laying in junk heaps. I guarantee you that there are thousands of these items in landfills near you right now. The electronics from the 60s are now over fifty years old – most items are broken, missing pieces, or downright outdated. A few are collector’s items, but most are heavy, bulky clunkers that take up too much room in people’s homes. Their loss is your gain.
Any time you see electronics for free, you should be grabbing and running. This is especially true, if they are from 1960-1985, or so. Not only do electronics from that era contain more gold than newer models, their interior components are also more valuable to sell on EBay, as we have discussed earlier.