Sometimes one person's garbage turns out to be another's good fortune, especially where scrap metals are concerned. Almost any metal that has industrial value will fetch some sort of price from a metal merchant, who can then resell it to recycling companies. Recycling scrap metals isn't just the environmentally responsible thing to do -- it can also bring a pretty penny to those who know how to collect them. Here are three great "gold mines" to inspire your imagination.
Anyone who has ever had a filling or a crown from the dentist is aware that these practitioners often use gold, silver and other valuable metals on a daily basis in their clinics. Shockingly, however, a full 30 percent of all dental offices fail to collect the scraps of these metals that inevitably result from their work; instead, they let it get tossed in with the other biohazard waste, which is permanently disposed of. Whether these dentists really don't recognize the potential monetary value of those shavings and leftovers or they just can't be bothered to worry about it isn't your problem -- all that matters is that there are unclaimed precious metals waiting for someone to get some use out of them.
Your course of action is clear -- collect those unwanted bits and pieces, and then sell them to companies that specialize in recycling scrap metals. If you happen to know a dentist who, for whatever reason, doesn't feel like going to this much trouble, ask whether you can swing by periodically and take that "trash" out of the clinic's way. They might think you're an oddball, but as long as you're earning money for your trouble, who cares?
Your Household Junk
Household appliances and electronics are a tried-and-true source of valuable scrap metals. Larger appliances are rich sources of ferrous metals, mainly steel. Steel wont command a high price by weight, but there's probably plenty of it in your home. Copper is more valuable, commanding up to $4 per pound, which is why it is so frequently stolen from outdoor air conditioning units. Electronic motherboards may sport gold, silver (in the form of solder), lead and copper, all of which have some degree of value.
If you really want to get what your computer or TV is worth, however, you're better off tearing it down or "scrapping" it rather than simply handing it over to a recycler. That's partly because you want the recycler to make an accurate estimate of the metal's value, and partly because some scrap dealers don't want to deal with devices that have monitors attached to them at all. By taking these devices apart, you can gut them of their scrap metal -- including the metals in the wiring attached to the monitor -- and get those metals properly weighed and valued.
Your Friends and Neighbors
Once upon a time, scrap metal merchants would roam the streets with a cart, issuing the familiar cry, "Any old iron!" Well, you don't have to call that much attention to yourself, but you can indeed collect some valuable bits of metal (or the appliances that contain them) from your friends and neighbors. Simply pop by their residence and ask if they have any old junk they'd like to get rid of, explaining that you intend to sell it for scrap. Most people end up surrounding themselves with heaps of old junk they don't need and never throw out. You're doing them -- and yourself -- a favor.
Can you legally make away with the occasional pile of valuable stuff you see heaped out on the curb in front of someone's house? Sometimes you can. If the material has been placed out into the public domain (in other words, the street) without being secured inside a privately-owned receptacle, then it should be yours or anyone else's for the taking. Just to be sure, however, check your local ordinances.
Use these examples to lead you toward other lucrative sources of scrap metals that are yours for the taking. Let the natural prospector in you come to the fore -- because there may indeed be gold in them there hills!