Scrap lead is typically worth anywhere between $0.08 and $0.93 per pound, depending on the type. You can sell lead to scrap yards and manufacturers or through peer-to-peer marketplaces. If you’re unable to sell your scrap, you can also recycle it. For more details about scrap lead prices and where and how to get rid of lead scrap, see below.
Scrap Lead Prices
Lead prices typically average between $2,000 and $2,500 per ton in the U.S. at the time of writing.
The lowest price on record was around $350 per ton ($0.16 per pound) in 1993, while the highest price was nearly $4,000 per ton ($1.81 per pound) in 2007.
Exact prices vary depending on current demand and geographical location. To give you a better idea of how the prices may vary depending on where you’re selling your scrap lead, we gathered price quotes from various markets in August of 2021.
- Miscellaneous lead: $0.45 per pound
- Plastic cased lead-acid batteries: $0.20 per pound
- Steel cased lead-acid batteries: $0.18 per pound
- Lead wheel weights: $0.10 per pound
- Lead auto batteries: $0.22 per pound
- Lead wheel weights: $0.20 per pound
- Clean lead: $0.30 per pound
- Lead: $0.58 per pound
- Lead car batteries: $0.23 to $0.28 per pound
- Lead wheel weights: $0.10 per pound
Where to Sell Lead
Most scrap yards will buy some forms of lead, though the prices, requirements, and restrictions will vary by location.
Depending on the type of item(s) you want to sell, you might be able to find a buyer on a peer-to-peer marketplace like eBay, Cragislist, or Facebook Marketplace.
With this type of sale, you’ll set your price and negotiate details like pick-up or delivery and payment with your buyer. It’s best to meet your buyer in a public place if possible to ensure a safe transaction.
Manufacturers and Retailers
Companies like battery manufacturers and auto shops may be willing to buy your lead scrap, particularly if you have automotive batteries to sell.
We were unable to identify any nationwide companies with buying programs, but you can contact manufacturers and retailers in your area to see if they accept lead batteries.
Tips for Selling Lead
Although it’s fallen out of public favor, lead has a long history of usefulness and is easy to find.
In the past, lead was favored for its malleability and corrosion resistance, making it useful for things like plumbing pipes, service lines, and solder.
Its adverse health effects became common knowledge in the late 20th century, so these items aren’t abundant in newer construction but can be found in older buildings and products.
Lead is now valued more for its chemical properties, which make it well-suited for use in industrial products such as underwater power/communication cables and batteries.
Of these items, batteries are likely the greatest source of scrap lead. Around 85% of modern lead usage is in the manufacturing of batteries.
Common non-industrial items made from lead include:
- Scuba weights
- Fishing sinkers
- Old pipes (including church organ pipes)
See our related research for information about places that sell lead ingots.
It can be difficult to know from sight alone what type of metal you have.
- Heavy, dense, and smooth
- Very soft, meaning you can easily scratch it with something like a box cutter or knife
- Dull gray in color unless polished or freshly cut
- Not magnetic
Important Safety Precautions
Lead is a useful material, but it also poses potentially serious health implications when handled improperly.
High levels of exposure to lead can cause anemia, weakness, and kidney and brain damage; very high exposure can be fatal.
When handling any lead-containing items, you should take safety precautions to reduce your exposure.
As with any potentially dangerous process, we strongly recommend that you do your research thoroughly, use the proper tools, and understand the risks.
If done improperly, working with items containing lead can be a serious hazard to your health. If you have any concerns or questions, get in touch with a professional who can assist you.
We list some of the precautions to keep in mind below.
An important part of the recycling and scrap process involves separating materials. Using a cutting torch creates temperatures high enough to melt leaded solder and vaporize surface lead, which can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
HEPA air filtration systems can help reduce exposure to lead, as can removing coatings along cutting lines before cutting.
Additionally, using an extended cutting torch means that the object is kept further away from the operator than the use of a standard torch.
Breaking Down Lead Batteries
There are some special considerations for breaking down batteries for recycling. Inside batteries, there are not only lead plates, but also acids contaminated with lead.
The lead may be in the form of very small particles, which are easily inhaled.
The use of exhaust hoods, as well as personal protective equipment (respirators, gloves, and protective coveralls), help reduce lead exposure during recycling.
Lead residue on tools and work surfaces also presents a potential hazard. Lead dust collects on just about any surface.
Never dry sweep potentially contaminated areas. Instead, use a HEPA vacuum followed by washing the surfaces with water and detergent. Finish up by using the vacuum on the surfaces one more time.
If you’re unable to find a place to sell your lead scrap, you’ll likely want to consider recycling it. In many states, it’s illegal to discard things like lead acid batteries to the landfill.
You won’t earn money for your lead scrap if you recycle it, but there’s typically no charge for the service, except in certain cases where you’re recycling a low quantity through a specialized recycler.
Scrap Prices for Other Common Industrial Metals
While it isn’t the least expensive metal on the market, lead demands a lower price than many other metals. Gold, platinum, and rhodium are the highest-valued. See our related research to compare scrap prices for brass, iron, stainless steel, and copper.