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Thread: How to handle copper wire scrap??

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  1. #1
    us
    Nov 2004
    Rhode Island
    1,252
    38 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    How to handle copper wire scrap??

    Hi again! I'm a newbie to scrap metal, so please bear with me here! I was wondering what how you all handle copper wire as scrap. I tried an experiment in stripping tonight with snips, a utility knife and a wire stripper, and the large car battery cable stripped nice and easy, but I gotta tell you, the smaller stuff like the computer power cord was not fun, and I didn't even try the old phone wire I had lying in the basement.

    I can see cutting off all of the heavy, out cover, but it doesn't seem worth it to strip the smaller plastic inner insulation on the individual wires. What do you guys strip, and what do you leave the plastic insulation on?

    Thanks again!
    missybaby28307 likes this.
    "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one."

    -Alexander Hamilton

  2. #2
    us
    Mar 2004
    Florence, AL, Occupied C.S.A.
    Whites XLT, Tesoro Golden Sabre and Garrett Pro-Pointer
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    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    Build a fire and burn the insulation off. It will then sell as #2 copper.
    You can't scare me. I've been married. Twice!

  3. #3
    us
    Jun 2007
    Coventry, CT
    Fisher F2
    127
    1 times

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    Quote Originally Posted by dnewbury2
    Build a fire and burn the insulation off. It will then sell as #2 copper.
    Please don't do that. Its horrible for the environment.

    If you have time and energy, strip power cords etc..
    Don't worry about the phone cable, take off the outer most layer, and scrap the thin wires as is.. They generally aren't gonna be easy to strip.

    I strip everything I can, accept thin*phone cord/cat5 for example* wire.

    By the way, I use a utility knife*razor* to strip wire. Wire strippers in my opinion make things overly complicated, as you have to do it one tiny section at a time...
    FormerTeller likes this.

  4. #4
    us
    Feb 2008
    southern NJ
    842
    4 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    it's also illegal in most states. all it takes is one nosy neighbor and you'll have the EPA all over you.

  5. #5

    Mar 2008
    Washington, DC
    29

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    Kidd,

    I second Ghondi. Burning off the insulation is lethal for the environment. Please don't do it. I use a pocket knife to strip insulation, which works better for me than self described wire stripper hand tools. This works for the larger size wire, but not well for power cords.

    KW

  6. #6

    Feb 2007
    34

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    It is more of an issue of time vs money. Will it be worth your time? Check with your local scrapyards and see what they will pay with the coating on the wires for the different types of wire. Recycling centers classify wire into different categories. They normally classify 14 gauge or better differently than other wire and pay a better price for it not being stripped than other wires. If you aren't stripping the wire down all the way don't take off the sheath; you lose weight and money.
    Check with your local recycling centers and see what they classify as #1,2 copper. They don't classify stuff the same at all recycling centers.

  7. #7
    us
    Dec 2007
    Just south of St. Louis, Mo.
    Garrett GTAX 1000
    95
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    The insulation on wire is PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride). Burning the insulation releases the Chloride and turns it into Chlorine. It's nasty stuff, burns eyes and will take your breath away.

    I don't know about you but I spend 2 hours a day sitting in rush hour traffic each day. During those hours I will cut my wire into 10 inch lengths, straighten them and then strip the wire. The wire then makes it's way into large, heavy duty zip-lock bags. Once the bags get to 50 pounds they get cashed in. That's over $150 just for sitting in traffic and playing with a pair of wire cutters and a utility knife.
    missybaby28307 likes this.
    If it's not nailed down it's mine.
    If I can pry it loose it's not nailed down.

  8. #8

    Feb 2005
    474
    1 times

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    2muchstuff,

    That's a good idea!

    Cavers5

  9. #9
    us
    Nov 2004
    Rhode Island
    1,252
    38 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    Thanks everyone. I'm not going to burn it, that's for sure. I think I'll just make it a habit of removing the outer sheathing and leaving the individual wires in the plastic, it's just not worth my time to strip it all down. Thanks again, I appreciate the help!
    "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one."

    -Alexander Hamilton

  10. #10
    us
    Still a Treasure Hunting Fool!

    Mar 2006
    Oxford Hills of Maine
    Explorer SE Pro
    233
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    Quote Originally Posted by Treasurekidd
    Thanks everyone. I'm not going to burn it, that's for sure. I think I'll just make it a habit of removing the outer sheathing and leaving the individual wires in the plastic, it's just not worth my time to strip it all down. Thanks again, I appreciate the help!
    If you are not going to strip it to bare copper then leave the sheathing on as it will increase your weight and the $$$$$$$ that you get! Here in Iowa sheathed copper gets about $1.00 per pound. Strip it to bare copper and that price jumps to $3.00 per pound making it well worth stripping as much as possible!

    Eric
    Good Luck & Happy Hunting

    Hills Hunter

  11. #11

    May 2006
    Pioneer 505
    677
    1 times

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    I stripped a bunch of wire yesterday and got into a groove. Here are some tips: let your wire sit in the sun so that the insulation gets soft and pliable. You need a razor knife. Grab a wire and start cutting about 5 inches from the end. Lay the razor knife flat on the wire with your hand on a table. Start pulling the wire and shaving only the top part of the insulation off. You should be able to shave 12 inches at a time. Sometimes you can shave more. When you get to the end pry the rest of the remaining insulation from around the wire and pull down. Keep pulling until you get the the first 5 inches where you started. Now put your blade flat on it and shave it off the same way you did the rest. It was surprising how once I got the method down it went very quickly.
    2008 Silver Half Totals:
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  12. #12
    us
    Ace250man

    Jul 2004
    Shelbyville or any yard where the owner will let me detect!
    ace 250
    20,002
    78 times
    Metal Detecting
    Banner Finds (1)

    Re: How to handle copper wire scrap??

    now i know what to do with my copper wire
    and the copper tubing in my basement...
    ALLEN

  13. #13

    Apr 2013
    1
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I tried a few approaches and eventually came up with this simple thing. All you need is a small piece of wood (1/2"x1"x6"), a utility knife blade, and a bench vice. Using a bench grinder or file, put a bevel on one of the long edges of the piece of wood, then cut it in half. Turn one piece around and place against the other so that you have a small block 1"x1"x3" with a v-shaped groove running down the middle of one of the long sides. The groove is about 1/4" deep and a little wider than that. Place the utility blade between the pieces of wood so that its point sticks up at one end of the groove and its cutting edge faces toward the groove. Clamp in your vise and you're ready to go.

    Start about 4" from the end of the wire and pull the end through, then turn the wire around and pull the rest of it across the blade tip using the v as a guide. With a glove on, press down with your thumb directly above the blade tip to help push the wired down and cut the insulation. The blade tip should not stick up high enough to touch your thumb. You don't have to push down too hard for this to work. Wearing a glove also helps because I found it heats up a bit if you pull the wire through fast enough.

    You may need to make some adjustments at first to get it working, but I was able to strip both strands of 75' of speaker wire in less than 5 minutes (separate the two strands first). The finer the wire, the lower you need to drop the knife point, otherwise the wire will end up running between the knife and the side of the groove.

  14. #14
    Charter Member
    us
    Feb 2013
    Lake Champlain, Vt.
    2,280
    2373 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Separate the light gauge wire and extension cords into one bin and the heavy wire into another, for the difference in price,( about$1/lb.) Time is money, and I think you will realize more profit.

    Under no circumstances burn the wire. Here it is illegal, and the scrap yard will not buy, and will also under the law report you.
    "When the legends die, the dream ends, there is no more greatness." Tecumseh

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  15. #15
    ca
    Feb 2009
    2,327
    276 times
    Quote Originally Posted by GMD52 View Post
    Separate the light gauge wire and extension cords into one bin and the heavy wire into another, for the difference in price,( about$1/lb.) Time is money, and I think you will realize more profit.

    Under no circumstances burn the wire. Here it is illegal, and the scrap yard will not buy, and will also under the law report you.
    Looking at many VT recycling yard profiles on the net I haven't found one that says it doesn't buy burnt wire. Yes there is the postings of not to burn the insulation off as it's against the law in some areas.
    In dealing with 1000's of tons of red metals at the yard and seeing the broker's processing tons an hour never was it an issue, just the grade of the wire burnt. Fine wire like welding cable was #2 always when burnt, and there was always a loss when burnt. ( It brought a better price when just stripped and separated on it's own) Communication as well as most stranded wire fell into the #2 when it was burnt.

    I believe it's just as easy to sell off the low recovery wire as is, and strip the higher recovery wire for a bare bright price.

 

 

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