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The Value of Copper Wire

Recycling your scrap metal provides benefits to the Austin, TX community and the environment. When you decide to recycle your scrap materials at a recycling center, you reduce the amount of metal that ends up in a landfill and the amount of raw materials that need to be mined to keep up with the demand.

If you are already familiar with scrap metals, you have probably learned that copper recycling typically yields the highest price per pound. You may not be aware that there are several types of recyclable scrap copper, and each of the types of copper commands a different price point.

Clean Copper Wire

Copper wire is considered clean if it has no insulation surrounding it when brought in to be weighed. The recycling center considers clean wire to be the most valuable type because the entire weighted amount can be attributed to the metal. During sorting, clean copper wire is categorized into one of three types - bare bright, #1 copper, and #2 copper. This distinction determines the final value.

  • Bare bright copper. The most valuable type of copper wire, bare bright must meet several criteria, including 99% pure copper composition, a minimum of 16 gauge, and a lack of insulating materials. The color is bright, shiny, and light orange.

  • #1 copper. If the copper cable is a minimum of 16 gauge and has the same hue as bare bright copper but still has some insulation or corrosion, it will be classified as #1 copper and valued accordingly.

  • #2 copper. Copper wires of at least 94% copper content and is uninsulated can be classified as #2 copper. This type of scrap wire can also be less than 16 gauge and darker orange in color.

Copper Wire With Insulation

Unlike clean copper wire, which cannot have insulation surrounding the metal, insulated copper wire can be coated or covered. Since scrap metal prices are measured by weight, insulated wire commands a lower price per pound than clean wire. Insulated copper wire is divided into several different categories - spaghetti, Romex®, and telecommunication wires.

  • Spaghetti, or THHN. This type of wire consists of an insulated cover with pure copper inside. The wire can be anywhere between 10 and 14 gauge and can have a coating. Spaghetti

  • Romex®. This is a specific type of wire that consists of a coated copper interior and an insulated exterior. Romex® has double-coat insulation, which not only makes it harder to process but also means less of the weight can be attributed to the copper itself.

  • Telecommunication. One of the most common sources of copper but also one that yields the lowest price per pound is telecommunication wire. Both phone and data cables often contain copper, but it is usually smaller gauge and insulated.

Recycle Your Copper Scrap Metal

It is reasonably well-known that scrap copper wiring commands a higher asking price than other types of scrap metal. Although copper scrap can be found in other sources, such as older pipes, some appliances, and electronics, the most common source is the wiring. Knowing which type of scrap copper you have can help you get a good idea of how much you can earn, based on the prices set forth by the scrap yard. If you have any questions about copper wire’s value or want to learn how to get paid for your scrap in the Austin, TX area, contact Austin Metal & Iron for more information.

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