Recycling materials for a profit can mean taking some time to prepare and gather the material, especially if you want to maximize the amount of money you make for it. Copper wire has some value and can be an excellent material to salvage and recycle, and the market is good for it in many areas, but it does take some work to make it profitable.
Salvaging Copper Wire
If you are considering copper wire recycling to make some money, you will need to find a source for the wire. For many people, that may be old houses or buildings that are being torn down, but it is crucial that if you are going to get the wire from a house, you do it legally. Make sure the power is shut off before you start stripping the wire out as well.
Talk with some of the demolition contractors in your area and see if they will allow you to pull the wire from the building before they go in and demolish the buildings. Often the demo contractor is getting paid to demolish the building and will not bother to separate the materials for recycling because of the time involved. If you can get to it before the demo crew does, you may be able to get a substantial amount of copper wiring from the building.
Preparing Copper Wire
Once you have removed the copper wire from the building, you may want to do some additional work to maximize the price you get when you take it to the copper wire buyers or recyclers. Copper wire is priced by the grading of the wire. Wire-free of any insulation or mixed metals is considered number one copper and is the most valuable to the copper wire buyers.
If the wire still has a lot of insulation on it or has sections of aluminum wire attached connectors that are still on the wire, or other things that mean the copper wire buyers need to sort through it, the price for the wire will be lower, and they grade the wire at number two copper when you bring it in. While it can be a lot of work to remove the insulation from the wire, the best way to make money with copper wire recycling is to put in the extra work to increase that price.
In some situations, the price difference could be nearly double for clean number one material, and some recyclers will not take it until you have stripped the insulation. Check with the copper wire buyers in your area before you start taking material in to sell.