How To Recycle Copper Wire For Beginners
The world population is increasing fast and the resources are declining with the passage of time. Just like the basic natural resources; water, air, oil and gas, the supply of copper ore is decreasing day by day. Therefore, learning how to recycle copper wire has become important, otherwise we’ll run out of copper soon. It is simply another form of recycling, like waste and IT recycling, which benefits our environment.
But before we start learning how to strip copper wire, we need to clarify some basic concepts.
What is copper?
One of the most commonly used electric conductors in different electric appliances is copper. It is a metal in a reddish-brown colour. It is widely used because of its low resistance towards electric current flow. Nearly half of the total copper that is mined is used in the making of electric wires and cables.
Previously it was used in plumbing pipes, but now that has been replaced with plastic. However, that doesn’t mean that copper usage has completely stopped. It is still used in several other types of equipment and appliances. So, before we understand how to recycle copper wire, we need to be able to detect it. Only when we know which one it is, can we strip and scrap it.
What is a copper wire?
In the simplest terms, a copper wire is a ‘single electrical conductor’ made using copper. If we combine two or more copper wires, they form a bundle and that bundle is called a copper cable. Usually, copper cables are used in:
- Electricity Generation
- Electricity Transmission
- Electricity Distribution
- Electric Circuits
- Different Electrical Instruments
Different Types Of Copper Wires
There are not one, but several types of copper wire depending on where and how they are being used. In order to recycle copper wire, it’s important to know its type first.
Let’s see how these types differ.
Bare Copper Wire
A bare copper wire is a bright and shiny flexible strand or rod of copper. Usually, a copper wire is a little thicker than a pencil lead. It is used to carry electric current or telecommunication signals.
Insulated Copper Wire
An insulated copper wire is basically just a copper wire that is covered with some insulation. Usually, this insulation is of rubber or plastic. Mostly these wires are found inside transformers, speakers, inductors, and motors etc. You’ll need a copper wire stripper to strip the insulation if you want to recycle these. So, make sure you know how to strip copper wire.
Telephone wires also contain copper in them. Although we can recycle them in several ways, there is another way we can make them useful. Search for copper wire scrap price on the Internet or in your vicinity and sell the scrap that you have.
Computer cables and wires are also a hub of copper. They can also be recycled the same way telephone wires can. You can always sell them or give them away to someone who needs them
Tin Coat Wire
The tin coated wires usually have a silver coating around the copper. However, it will not be magnetic. So, if we take a closer look, we’ll see a reddish-brown copper wire inside the tin coating.
How To Recycle Copper Wire
Now that we know about copper wire and its different types, it’s time to learn how to recycle copper wire. To do that, first of all, we’ll need to know how to strip copper wire. Once we learn that, then we’ll move on to the recycling process.
Let’s divide and learn it step-by-step:
Stripping Copper Wires
In order to sell copper scrap, most dealers need you to strip the wire off any insulation. So, you need to be aware of the most commonly used methods to strip a copper wire.
Here we have a few methods listed for you:
The best and most used method for stripping a copper wire is using a copper wire stripper. They are quite easy and mess-free to use. Follow the steps to do it yourself:
- Hold the wire in one hand.
- Using the wire stripper, close the cutting head on the wire almost half an inch from the end.
- Apply pressure till you can feel the insulation cutting.
- Once there is a deep cut in the insulation, start sliding the stripper towards the end of the wire.
- This will remove the entire insulation in one piece.
- When 4-5 inches of the wire is stripped, clip it off and carry on until the entire wire is stripped.
Another copper wire stripping method involves using a utility knife. This method, however, may be a little dangerous as it involves a bare blade. But on the other hand, this method consumes lesser time. Follow these steps to strip a copper wire easily:
- Strip the insulation from at least 1.5 inches of wire.
- Secure the end by some means, like a vice, so that it remains tightly secured and you can scrape the remaining insulation off.
- Heat the knife for easily cutting through the insulation.
- Start scraping the insulation off from the farthest end of the wire and work towards the nearest end.
A simple but sharp blade can also be used as a copper wire stripper. All you need to do is make cuts in the insulation and then strip the pieces off using pliers.
An unconventional method for copper wire stripping is using a hammer. All you need to do is place the wire on a hard surface and start hitting it hard with a sledgehammer. As a result, the insulation will rip and split which will expose the copper wire underneath.
Recycling A Copper Wire
Finally, it’s time to know how to recycle copper wire. If you research about the copper wire scrap price, you’ll run to sell all that trash lying in your garage. But before you do that, make sure you do the following first:
Organise The Scrap
This might sound ridiculous, but it is quite important when it comes to scrapping. If your scrap copper wires are properly sorted and organised, their prices will definitely be affected.
Basically, copper wires are divided into five main categories. Apart from that, dealers have their own preferences, too. For instance, they might have a separate category for the high-quality ones and a separate one for the low-quality wires. The former has a single layer of insulation while the latter has two.
The five categories of copper wire are:
70% – single core cable around 5-8mm in diameter.
50 – 60% – usually found inside electronic equipment.
45% – found in household goods like extension cords and appliance cables.
25% – steel wire armoured cable normally used for communications.
Strip Away Any Insulation
Most scrap dealers have a policy of only taking the already stripped copper wire. So, learn how to strip copper wire, and using a copper wire stripper, get to work.
Moreover, it’s not just about the dealers’ preferences; stripped copper wire has a higher market rate than the insulated one. So, using one of the methods that we listed above, start stripping the cables.
Bonus Tip: slightly heat the wire before removing its insulation as it will be easily removed when the wire is hot.
Know Copper Wire Scrap Prices
The copper scrap prices change every now and then. So, stay up-to-date regarding the prices, especially when you’re about to sell your scrap. Get in touch with someone who is from this field as they can provide the insider’s view. This will help you sell your scrap at a time when the prices are at their highest.
Hire A Reputable Company
Finally, the whole process comes to choosing the right scrap dealer. The best ones will provide you with the highest prices and services. So, if you know how to recycle copper wire but don’t choose the right company to sell your scrap, then you may be in loss. Therefore, choose wisely and make a well-informed decision.