While there are a variety of recyclable scrap metals out there, they are not all equal in value—and brass, as one of the higher-paying scrap metals, is in high demand at both the industry level and for individual scrappers. That being said, brass isn’t always easy to find or to identify. With the right knowledge, though, finding brass and separating it from other metals can be a lot easier.
How to Identify Brass
Brass is a shiny, yellow-gold metal that is quite durable and also often used for decorative purposes. It looks a lot like copper at first glance, but brass has a few unique characteristics that set it apart.
First of all, brass is not magnetic. A magnet is a key tool for any scrapper, as it allows for the easiest identification and separation of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, which have different values and are often processed differently at the yard.
In addition, brass has a unique color. While brass and copper may look quite similar at first glance, you can tell them apart if you inspect them more closely. Brass generally has a more solid, consistent color, and is very yellow. Copper, on the other hand, often has hints of pinks and reds.
Last but not least, brass is a very solid, durable metal—which is where a lot of the demand from brass comes from, in addition to its aesthetic qualities. Copper, on the other hand, is much more malleable (which is why it is often used in wiring).
To tell brass and copper apart by color, they’ll need to be very clean and free of oxidation. While cleaning your potential brass involves a lot of work, bringing clean metals to the yard is also a sure way to increase your pay.
Common Places You’ll Find Brass
Brass has a wide array of applications, but there are a few key places to look for brass. One of the most common places to find brass is in antiques—however, antiques often have more value in their current form than in scrap form.
The most common place to find good brass for scrapping is in certain industrial areas. For example, a lot of brass is used for HVAC applications. Striking up a relationship with a local HVAC business, such as offering free cleanup or hauling services in exchange for keeping scrappable metal, is a great way to find scrap brass, as well as other metals like copper (which is used in a lot of HVAC wiring). Just be sure to get permission!
Brass is also often used in ammunition, meaning that you can find brass in the form of spent shells at shooting ranges. Be very careful with this brass, though—it must be cleaned thoroughly before bringing in for scrap, because of the primer residue that can still be found in the shells (which is highly flammable).
Do you have any other great ideas for places to find brass? Let us know in the comments, or give us a call with your tips!