Selling scrap metal can be a great way to earn extra income. Carbide, in all its various forms, can be highly valuable. You may even have scrap carbide already in your home, waiting to be turned in for cash. This article details scrap carbide prices per pound as well as everything else you know prior to making the sale. By the end of the article you’ll know how to find it, where to take it, and how much you’ll get for it.
In This Article:
Where to Find Scrap Carbide
Types of Carbide
How to Identify Carbide
How Much is Scrap Carbide Worth?
How and Where Can You Sell Scrap Carbide?
Where to Find Scrap Carbide
Tungsten carbide is primarily used in cutting and drilling equipment in industrial applications. One of the most common sources of recyclable carbide is used end mills and drill bits left over from machining projects. In fact, lots of machining leftovers, even non-solid leftovers, might have a high enough carbide content to be valuable. While larger machine shops are very aware of the value of their scrap carbide and will likely either resell or recycle it, you may be able to pick up leftover industrial carbide scraps, particularly carbide inserts, from a friend with a home machining shop or the owner of a tire-changing establishment.
Carbide can also be found in household products. You might find carbide in (1) sporting equipment (snowmobile spikes, for example), (2) knife sharpeners, (3) light bulb filaments, (4) high heat coils, (5) jewelry (men’s wedding rings, for example), (6) fishing equipment (especially lures), (7) hiking equipment (the tips of trekking pole, for example), (8) tire studs, (9) working components in ballpoint pens, and (10) razor blades. Carbide is unusually heavy, so if the metal in these sorts of objects seems heavy for its size, it might be carbide. Try other tests, like the magnet test, explained in the How to Identify Carbide section of this article, to get a better idea of whether your scrap metal is carbide.
Types of Carbide
Carbide generally comes in three types: solids, sludge, and powder. All three types are recyclable. Solids are any solid pieces of carbide left over from machining or in household items. Sludge is a liquid byproduct of various machining processes. Powder might be left over from machining or be left over powder; carbide may have been bought in powdered form in the first place.
- Examples: Drill bits, inserts, taps, router bits, end mills, cutoffs, round stock, dies, punches, reamers, etc.
- Selling solids: Any recycler that takes carbide will take solids.
- Pricing: If your solids are pure carbide, they will sell for the current price of carbide. Be aware that not all solids are made completely from carbide. If only part of the solid needed to be very durable, then it may be that only part is carbide, and the rest is a less valuable metal, like high-speed steel. For example, some drill bits contain carbide only in the tip. Use the identification tests listed above to get an idea of the carbide content of your solid scrap.
- Examples: Sludge is the byproduct produced from grinding, cutting, shaping, and manufacturing of carbide tooling, inserts, and other carbide items.
- Selling sludge: Sludge is recyclable, but not all recyclers have the facilities to process and recycle sludge. Be sure to call and confirm that your recycler accepts sludge before you make a trip.
- Pricing: The value of sludge depends on what percent of it is carbide, and what percent is contaminants. The heavier your sludge, the higher the carbide content. As benchmarks, a 40-pound gallon of sludge probably has high carbide content. A 24-pound gallon may or may not have enough carbide to be recycled, it will depend on moisture and contaminants. A 12-pound gallon is probably not recyclable. The recycler will only be able to confirm the carbide content and final price after analysis.
- Examples: Carbide powder may be left over from machining processes with carbide parts.
- Selling Powder: Powder is recyclable, but not all recyclers have the facilities to process and recycle it. Be sure to call and confirm that your recycler accepts sludge before you make a trip. Powder is easier to separate than sludge, so recyclers can buy it even when the percentage of tungsten is as low as 20%.
- Pricing: The value of scrap carbide powder depends on the percent of contaminants. As with sludge, the heavier your powder, the higher the carbide content. Tungsten powder itself is used in processes like thermal spray for hard facing and other processes; so if your scrap comes from a process that began with tungsten powder, it will have higher tungsten content and more value.
How to Identify Carbide
There are two types of solid carbide scraps: clean and dirty. Clean scraps are solids, such as drill bits. Dirty scraps have braze alloy in them, which is a type of solder that appears as a white-gold substance. These dirty scraps are still valuable and include items such as saw tips taken off a saw. You can either identify carbide by weight or use a spark or magnet test.
- Weight: Carbide can be identified by weight because it is very heavy; two tablespoons weigh over a pound.
- Spark Test: Carbide is usually found in end mills, inserts, or saw tips. When put on a grinding wheel, carbide will make dark reddish-orange, short, dim sparks, rather than white firework-like sparks.
- Magnet Test: True tungsten has little attraction to a magnet; tungsten carbide will not stick to a magnet and will pull away easily. If the magnet sticks, the material is probably steel.
- Scratch Test: Scratch the material with a known piece of carbide. If it’s steel, you’ll immediately notice scratches. If it’s carbide, you’ll see little to no markings.
- Rust Test: Steel will rust; carbide won’t. If what you’ve got is rusty, it’s definitely not carbide.
End mills, reamers, boring bars, and round toolings are often made from carbide but are sometimes made from steel. Inserts are almost always made from carbide, and steel inserts are easily separated with a weight test. Spade bits are almost always steel but occasionally are made of carbide. A magnet test will easily show the difference.
The following video teaches you the basics of how to determine whether or not you’ve got carbide on hand and what materials are commonly made of carbide. You’ll see examples of the weight test, the magnet test, the scratch test, and the rust test. You’ll also learn more about clean and dirty scraps and how the value is only affected slightly by the quality of the carbide.
Other than pieces of carbide from broken machinery and other spare carbide parts, there is “soft scrap” carbide, the sludge or powder produced after grinding a piece of carbide, which may also be valuable. While the quality of soft scrap can only be determined in a laboratory, you can estimate the quality yourself by weight.
How Much Is Scrap Carbide Worth?
The price of scrap carbide correlates to the price of tungsten; scrap yards usually pay about two-fifths of the current price of tungsten for scrap carbide. Like most commodities, tungsten prices (and therefore the base price of scrap carbide) have varied significantly in the past 10 years. Always call your scrap yard to confirm the current price, which will also depend on the carbide’s form (solid, sludge, powder, or grindings) and quality. Lower quality carbide has more contaminants; the more contaminants in your scrap carbide, the less carbide, and thus the lower value.
Be sure to inquire with the recycler to confirm current prices and check whether they can process a non-solid form of carbide. The iScrapApp is a great tool for checking up-to-date carbide prices. You can input your location to find recyclers near you, their prices, and their contact information. Additionally, some recyclers have online quote estimators, and you can use these to request and compare prices. These estimators will have some delay, but will be highly accurate, because the recycler will check prices and reply individually to your specific inquiry (generally by email).
- Cutting Edge Tool Supply has an online quote request form and lists an estimated current price.
- Kennametal has an online quote request form and also accepts scrap carbide from Canada and the UK.
- Machine Tool Recyclers can give quotes via phone; you may contact them at (630) 964-5030.
- Lots of people sell scrap carbide on eBay; take a look at their pricing for ideas.
How and Where Can You Sell Scrap Carbide?
You can sell scrap carbide as a local scrap metal yard or to a recycler that buys via mail. For local scrap metal yards, try the iScrapApp to get started. It shows local scrap yards, contact information, and national average prices. The following list is a sampling of buyer who will accept carbide by mail. Most scrap carbide purchases by mail are for large quantities, but buyers will often accept small quantities as well. Depending on current scrap carbide prices, however, shipping costs may make selling by mail unprofitable.
Carbide Cutting Tools SC
- Quantity of Carbide: Carbide Cutting Tools SC Inc will purchase as little as 5 pounds of carbide and as much as 50 pounds in one shipment.
- Getting a quote and getting paid: Call (864) 320-0619 or (864) 244-1485 for the current price.
- Shipping: Will reimburse $11 of the flat rate shipping cost on shipments of 40 pounds or more. Recommends the medium flat rate box and 50-pound shipments. They can arrange trucking for larger shipments. Be sure to follow their video instructions for packaging.
- Location: Taylors, SC
Machine Tool Recyclers
- Quantity of Carbide: Machine Tool Recyclers recommend shipments of 50 pounds to minimize shipping payments, but will buy any quantity.
- Getting a Quote and Getting Paid: Call (630) 964-5030 for a quote and current prices. They will send a check for solid scrap within 24 hours of receipt; non-solid scrap must be analyzed, so it takes about four weeks for them to pay.
- Shipping: They have instructions on how to package and ship carbide and recommend shipping in 50-pound increments to get the best shipping rates. For loads over 400 pounds, they can arrange shipping by truck.
- Location: Largo, FL
- Quantity of Carbide: Kennametals generally buys larger quantities of scrap carbide, request a quote for specifics.
- Getting a Quote and Getting Paid: Fill out a quote request to find out current pricing. They can pay in cash or issue a credit.
- Shipping: Use the send carbide form to ship scrap carbide. They provide shipping containers for qualifying orders.
- Location: Recycling centers in Huntsville, AL, and Fallon, NV. Headquarters in Fort Mill, SC.
- Quantity of Carbide: Accepts solids, sludge, and alloys in various quantities. Inquire about specifics when asking for a quote.
- Getting a Quote and Getting Paid: Fill out a quote request form to find out current pricing.
- Shipping: Tungo Co will help with logistics for larger shipments; inquire to see it you qualify.
- Location: Madisonville, KY
It’s always great to discover that the old machinery or spare parts lying around your house could be worth something. The next time you are cleaning your garage or tool shed, consider testing some of the scrap metal pieces you find. Although the price of scrap carbide fluctuates, scrap carbide will always maintain some value because the tungsten in the scrap carbide maintains its quality. If you’re wondering whether now is the best time to sell your scrap, compare the current prices to trends over time. When prices are high, get on the carbide recycling bandwagon and sell, sell, sell.