Iron is a metal used to produce a wide array of products. Because it is found in so many items, it is easy to find scrap iron, and many recycling facilities will buy it. Although iron usually sells for a low price, selling scrap iron can be worthwhile because it’s so easy to find and collect. It’s important to know what type of iron you have and how to prepare it before taking it to a recycling facility so you can get top dollar for it.

In this article, we cover the price of iron and more to help you make the most of your iron scrapping endeavors.

In This Article:

  • Recyclable Types of Iron and Their Prices

    • Cast Iron
    • Machining Scrap
    • Sheet Iron
  • Getting the Best Price for Your Scrap Iron

  • Where to Sell Your Scrap Iron

  • When Not to Sell Scrap Iron for Recycling

Recyclable Types of Iron and Their Prices

It’s good to know what kind of iron you have before selling your scrap because prices vary slightly depending on the type of iron and its quality. You can also sell miscellaneous scrap iron, so don’t get discouraged if your scrap doesn’t fit into one of these specific categories. Miscellaneous scrap iron prices often match cast iron prices.

Most iron fits into one of these categories:

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a brittle form of iron. It cannot be hammered into shape; instead, it is “cast” (poured into molds) to make everything from stoves to cooking pots to cannonballs. Cast iron is categorized as either Type 1 or Type 2.

  • Traits: Brittle, high melting point
  • Cast iron Type 1: Type 1 generally comes from machinery and has no steel attachments. Type 1 is of higher quality than Type 2, so keep them separate.
    • Found in: Manhole covers, grill plates, large rims/hubs, and grating
    • Price: About 10% cheaper than Type 2
  • Cast iron Type 2: Type 2 generally comes from household items. Some of these items have non-ferrous metals blended with them, so keep these separate from your other cast iron scrap.
    • Found in: Kitchenware, sinks, bathtubs, pipes, plumbing, radiators
    • Identification: Like all ferrous materials, cast iron will stick to a magnet. Because cast iron is so brittle, if you drop a large piece from a significant height, it will shatter.
    • Price: The national average was $0.05-$0.07 per pound, or $115-$155 per ton, as of April 2017. Check the iScrapApp for up-to-date prices at specific recyclers.
  • Factors affecting price: Rusted and worn cast iron will always bring in a lower price than cast iron in good condition. Expect to receive about 10% less for dirty or rusted iron.
  • Recyclability:
    • If the scrap is in very poor condition, the recycler might accept the scrap but will not pay you for the scrap.
    • Sometimes cast iron will be attached to another material. For example, cast iron stoves often have a layer of insulation attached to the cast iron. In this case, remove the insulation before selling it.

Machining Scrap

Machining scrap consists largely of turning borings, which are left over from machining or used in machining tools.

  • Traits: Waste left over from manufacturing processes; usually made of cast iron
  • Found in: Turning borings, including swarf, chips, and fillings left over from machining
  • Identification: If a magnet sticks to it, it’s probably iron.
  • Price: The national average was $0.05-$0.07 per pound, or $115-$155 per ton, as of April 2017. Check the iScrapApp for up to date prices at specific recyclers.
  • Factors Affecting Price: Iron that is rusted or worn will bring about 10% less than clean iron.
  • Recyclability: Larger borings can be easily sorted and prepared to take to a metals recycler. Borings can also include smaller pieces of waste from the manufacturing process, which may be hard to sort from other impurities. In some cases, it may be impossible to separate iron from impurities at home, but a scrap yard may have the equipment to do so. Check with your local scrap yard or recycler to see if they have sorting equipment.

Sheet Iron

Sheet iron or light iron typically includes very thin iron (or steel) that is used in household appliances or other items.

  • Traits: Thin, flat “sheets” of iron are usually under 1/8 of an inch thick, though different scrap yards may have slightly different definitions.
  • Found in: Household appliances, hot water heaters, wrought iron railings, furnaces, fencing, sheet steel, lawn mowers, sheds
  • Identification: If a magnet sticks to it, it’s probably iron.
  • Price: The national average was $0.03-$0.06 per pound, or $85-$135 per ton, as of April 2017. Check the iScrapApp for up-to-date prices at specific recyclers.
  • Factors Affecting Price: Iron that is rusted or worn will bring about 10% less than clean iron.
  • Recyclability: Sheet iron is easy to recycle, so scrap yards will buy it unless it is in very poor condition. Make sure to sort clean sheet iron from rusted or dirty sheet iron to ensure that the recycler will accept your scrap. Mixing dirty and clean scrap may result in the recycler rejecting your entire load.

Getting the Best Price for Your Scrap Iron

Scrap iron prices vary depending on the price of iron ore, the condition or amount of contaminants in the scrap iron, and the type of the scrap iron. Iron ore prices help explain long-term trends in scrap iron prices, while knowing the type and quality of your iron will help you determine what price your local recycler will pay for the scrap.

Iron ore refers to the rocks from which iron is extracted. While it’s best to check with scrap metal yards for current prices, checking iron ore prices can help you decide whether it’s a good time to sell your iron scrap. If iron ore prices have been trending downward, you may consider waiting until they rise again before selling your scrap iron.

Negotiating can also help you get a better price for your scrap iron. Always sort your scrap beforehand. If you’ve prepared your metals by removing as many non-iron components or attachments as possible and by sorting your iron by type, you may be able to haggle your way to a better price.

Always double-check how scrap yards pay for iron. Paying by the pound is clear, but if they pay by the ton, ask what that means. A regular ton is 2,000 lbs, but a long ton is 2,240 lbs. Depending on the scrap yard, they could use either measurement. Also, be sure to find out whether the recycler will buy smaller quantities. Most offer a per-pound price, but some recylers may have higher minimum weight requirements before they will purchase.

Where to Sell Your Scrap Iron

Unless you have very large quantities of iron that are worthwhile to ship, your best option is to take your scrap iron to a local recycling facility or scrap metal yard. The iScrap App has a database of local scrap yards across the U.S., along with their contact information.

You can also try Recycle Nation’s database of metal recyclers. Their database includes recyclers who pay for scrap, as well as places that just recycle and don’t pay.

When Not to Sell Scrap Iron for Recycling

Because scrap iron fetches a low price when recycled, the metal item itself might be worth more whole than the scrap iron alone. Appliances like bathtubs and sinks, for example, may be worth more refurbished and sold. Sinks and tubs are often coated with porcelain, which makes them incredibly durable. If that coating is intact, it’s probably better to sell the fixture whole.

Cast iron stoves are another common source of scrap iron that could easily be worth more whole. Vintage cast iron stoves, for example, are valued for their charm. If the item is in good shape and working (or at least repairable), be sure to check resale options for the whole piece before scrapping it.

Even smaller items may be worth more resold whole than scrapped. Reselling pots or pans for $5.00 each, for example, would usually be better than selling them as scrap. If the item is in working condition, always consider its resale value whole before selling its iron parts for scrap.

In Summary

Now you know the current scrap iron prices and more. As you can see, collecting scrap iron for sale at recycling centers and scrap yards can be a rewarding and lucrative endeavor. To get the most money for your scrap iron, be sure it is clean and separated by type. Consider reselling certain iron pieces, such as bath tubs and sinks, instead of scrapping them to make more money. Happy scrapping.