Jan 07, 2014, 08:05 PM
Platinum recovery/Spark plugs
I've been doing some research lately on recovering platinum from spark plugs. I was turned onto the idea after watching Nat Geo's "Meltdown" where Diego sold the scrap platinum needles out of old spark plugs for a hefty profit. I'm new to the scrapping business, and this is actually my first post on this site, so I'm really hoping that someone can answer my questions. I just acquired 4 large 5 gallon buckets full of old, unwanted spark plugs from a longtime mechanic. He's been saving them for years and he intended on just dumping the buckets into an old car for added weight at the scrap yard. The spark plugs date back from as early as the late 40's or early 50's (probably only a few dozen really old plugs). The majority of the plugs are newer, with a mixture of some older plugs. Given that I'm new to this, how can I tell if they're worth anything? Especially given the time that it will take to tackle this endeavor. Most of them are oily and greasy, so making heads or tails on what they are made of might be a pretty big proposition. How can I tell if they have platinum or other precious metals inside? Any way to tell from the naked eye? Any thoughts or remarks would be greatly appreciated!
Jan 07, 2014, 08:19 PM
be better off to getting the platinum out of catalytic converters
Jan 07, 2014, 08:53 PM
I know that there is a lot more platinum in catalytic converters, but they're also much more expensive to buy because people know the value of them.
Jan 07, 2014, 08:55 PM
How can you tell if the plugs are made out of platinum vs a standard plug?
Jan 07, 2014, 10:04 PM
The valuable part of the plug is a small insert around the end of a copper core. Historically, this has been made of gold, platinum or palladium. Telling what is in each plug individually would be difficult.
Jan 07, 2014, 10:23 PM
So, I would basically have to cut them all apart and have them sent to a refinery? What happens if it's smelted down and it has a mixture of platinum and other precious metals? I think I'm going to try the same method that I saw Diego use when tearing them apart. It will be a tedious task, but I think that I'm up for it. I'm hoping that a dremel and a vice will be enough to get the needle out of the case. Is that all that I should try to recover? Thanks for the input guys. It's greatly appreciated.
Originally Posted by allen_idaho
Jan 07, 2014, 10:24 PM
So, it should yield some money if I have them sent to a refinery? How much will be the question!
Jan 07, 2014, 10:47 PM
Jan 07, 2014, 11:54 PM
Thanks wvu. I read that forum some time ago when I first started researching this project. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of useful information online. I'm going to start working on them shortly. I'll keep you guys posted on whether it's worth the effort or not.
Originally Posted by wvwildman
Jan 07, 2014, 11:58 PM
Plugs today are also made of iridium. Is it worth much? How can you tell the difference from platinum? Just asking...
Jan 08, 2014, 12:20 AM
I'm curious about it too. Iridium is also worth money. The stockpile that I have should yield both, but we'll see. I literally have hundreds on top of hundreds of spark plugs. From the research that I have done, I don't see any way to tell the difference. I'm just curious as to what happens once my plugs are smelted. I mean, do they somehow seperate the difference in money between iridium and platinum? It will be a mixture of different things once it's smelted. Just curious how that works.
Originally Posted by austin
Jan 11, 2014, 02:23 AM
Consider a rotary cutoff tool. Cut the tip flush with the "body"-ceramic and all over a plastic box. Should be quick. Do 50 every sitting. Once you have a few ounces of the cuttings-process it like an ore-or take it to a refiner and get an assay of the cuttings.
If the materials had a lower melt temp I'd suggest meting it into a button for assay.
Jan 11, 2014, 09:30 AM
Very few sparkplugs out of the billions made are "platinum plugs" Some are silver, fairly uncommon, most are copper. The platinum ones are usually used in the more exotic high performance cars. They are fairly modern, the first ones I saw were in the early 1980s. The only way to tell is to get the manufacturer's code lists and read the numbers on the plugs. All plugs have the numbers on them and those numbers tell what the tip is made of. I think Bosch is the leading manufacturer of platinum plugs. I doubt if you'll find many if any platinum plugs made by A/C or Champion, and definitely not any older ones by these companies. I worked for Porsche since 1968 and do know about the platinum plugs. I agree with the others that cat converters are the main automotive source of platinum, and I think that identifying and recovering platinum from plugs will not be a very profitable venture. Modern Cats use less platinum than the older ones and the value as scrap is dropping as they use less.
Ya won't find nuthin' if ya don't hunt
Jan 11, 2014, 09:34 AM
If you just smash the ceramic part of a sparkplug with a hammer the central electrode just falls out, no need to bother cutting the whole plug bottom off flush with the ceramic.
Originally Posted by GTzer
Ya won't find nuthin' if ya don't hunt
Jan 11, 2014, 10:38 PM
Just a thought for concentrating the possible tips that could hold the PMs
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