A Guide To Cleaning And Sorting Scrap Aluminium To Maximise Its Value

One of the more popular metals used in a number of industries today is the lightweight and non-ferrous (being that it is not magnetic) material of aluminium. If you have decided to collect scrap fragments of this popular metal to sell to dealers for a tidy profit, it is important that you understand that there are several different grades of aluminium and that each varies in price. Use this guide to ensure that you have sorted and cleaned your supplies appropriately.

Aluminium is generally divided up into the following grades:

  • Cast: This aluminium is actually quite brittle and, if broken, will reveal a grainy interior. It is commonly used in car parts (such as transmission housings aluminium radiators, engine cylinder heads and so on) and a number of other objects, like BBQ covers and light housings.
  • Radiators (clean and contaminated): A clean radiator will have all of its tanks, hoses, steel and plastic removed. A contaminated aluminium radiator will still have all these things intact.
  • Extrusions (clean and contaminated): This is the name given to the process of pushing material through a die in order to give it a particular shape. Window frames are the most common type of aluminium extrusion that is recycled. Clean extrusion will have any steel, plastic, rubber or insulation removed.
  • Wheels (clean and chrome plated): Wheels that are chrome plated are actually worth a little less than those that are pure aluminium. A wheel with a plastic face cover is also considered as chrome plated because the plastic and glue actually contaminates the metal. In most cases, the prices offered will assume that wheel weights, valve stems and centre caps are still attached.
  • Siding: This includes gutters, downspouts and other flat stock aluminium objects. These items cannot include contamination of any kind, including steel, Styrofoam, tar, insulation and so on.
  • Aluminium/copper radiators (clean and contaminated): This grade is found in air conditioners and consists of copper tubes surrounded by aluminium fins. If the radiator is clean, it will contain no steel flanges. If you do decide to cut the flanges off, the radiator will be considered clean and you can sell the flanges as scrap.
  • Old sheet: This is the lowest grade of scrap aluminium and essentially any item that has not been mentioned will fit into this category. You would sell pots and pans, pop cans, lawn chairs, screens and so on according to this category.

Once you have worked out where your scrap aluminium fits into the grading system outlined above, you can ensure that it has been properly sorted and cleaned to get the best prices possible. If you have the tools to cut off all of the contaminated bits of your aluminium objects, you really should because clean scrap always gets the best offers.

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