Identifying Valuable Metals When Sorting Scrap

Valuable Metals

Whenever you're sorting through items you find in a storage unit, you're probably accustomed to making multiple categories: items for quick resale, valuable antiques, things to sell at flea markets. If you want to maximize your profits, you should also make room for scrapping. Scrap metal keeps going up in value even as inflation robs profits in other sectors, and it's a great way to get the most from items that can't be sold as-is.

Sometimes, though, you'll get more money from selling whole items than from scrapping them. It's important to know what items to scrap and what should be sold as-is through eBay or to a collector. You'd hate to scrap something that turned out to be a priceless antique, and you'd also hate to sell something for less than its scrap value.

Here are a couple of tips for determining whether to scrap or sell something:

  • If you know that something is a valuable collector's item or antique, hold onto it until you can sell it for its true value. This takes some practice and experience. Go to a few good antiques stores or auctions to get an idea of what sort of items sell there. Spend time on eBay, talking to collectors or reading books about antiques. This will help you tell the difference between a real item and a knock-off.
  • Recognize what metals certain items tend to be made of. If you're familiar with the composition of normal household items, you'll know which ones will have the highest quantities of scrappable material. For example, speakers often have large amounts of copper and rare earth magnets, and computer chips have small amounts of gold.
  • Even when items can be scrapped, they're often worth more whole if they still work. For example, you can probably sell a working TV for more than you can scrap. The exception to this is jewelry. Old-fashioned costume jewelry made with gold, silver or other metals may be hard to sell due to outdated styles, but the metal has grown in value over the years. Once you ensure that a cheesy-looking piece of jewelry isn't a valuable antique, consider scrapping it for some quick cash.

Also be sure you know how to identify certain materials. You may not be able to tell the difference between them before you buy the storage unit, but you can test things while you sort them. A magnet is one of the most useful tools for identifying ferrous metals, which tend to be worth very little compared to softer precious metals. You can also gently scratch or file the surface of an item to see if it's solid or plated. If you deal with a lot of jewelry, an acid-testing kit might be a good investment; otherwise, finding a precious metal dealer you trust might be the best choice.

It takes some practice to sort through your merchandise, but it's well worth it. If you take the time to do your research and determine what's valuable and how to best capitalize on that value, you can increase your long-term earnings.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *