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What You Need to Know About Scrap Metal Grades

What You Need to Know About Scrap Metal GradesWhen you’re selling your scrap metal and want to get the best possible price, knowing how to sort your scrap into different scrap metal grades makes a huge difference. In this post, we’ll talk about the different grades and how to get the best possible price for scrap metal.

Mixed Scrap

The lowest price you’ll get is when you’ve got a mixed batch of different metals in different levels of cleanliness. It’s often well worth your time to clean and sort your mixed scrap to increase what you get for it.


Clean brass can have no more than 5% other material with it, though copper is acceptable to most scrap services in otherwise clean brass.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is considered clean when it has under 5% other materials and dirty when it has more than 5% of other materials.


Aluminum has several different grades. Aluminum food and drink cans are at the lower end and are expected to be relatively clean and dry. Aluminum sheet can be painted and is considered clean when it has under 5% other metals and all insulation, screws or metal trims have been removed, otherwise it is considered dirty aluminum sheet. Extruded aluminum is considered clean with under 5% other metals, dirt, insulation or plastic and is considered dirty extruded aluminum if it has over 5% of those materials mixed in or if it shows signs of significant corrosion.

Solid Copper

Solid copper has two different grades. For copper #1, it can’t have any brass or large amounts of corrosion. This includes copper tubing and pipes if fittings are removed and they’re not corroded. Copper wire without any insulation and thicker than a pencil lead, about 12 gauge, are considered #1. If the copper has over 5% other metals or is very corroded, it’s considered copper #2. This includes copper pipe that still has brass fitting attached and wire without insulation that is thinner than a pencil lead.

Copper Wire

Insulated copper wire has three different grades, depending on how heavy the insulation is versus the weight of the copper inside. Copper wire 25% includes heavily insulated wire and is considered the lowest grade of copper. Copper wire 45% has thinner insulation, but the copper inside is still thinner than a pencil lead. Copper Wire 55% has thinner insulation and the copper wire itself is thicker than a pencil lead, typically around 12 gauge or lower.

Grading your scrap helps ensure you get the best price for each grade. For more details on getting the best prices for your scrap or setting up service, please contact us.

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