Short Answer: Scrap aluminum values range from around $0.06 to $0.50 per pound, with higher prices for uncontaminated aluminum wire, cans, and rims. Below, we explain the average aluminum scrap prices, how to find aluminum scrap, and where to sell it.
Aluminum Scrap Prices Explained
The average price of aluminum scrap ranges from around six to 50 cents per pound. Prices vary depending on the type of aluminum, your location, current market conditions, and whether the aluminum is clean or unclean. Common types and average values include:
- Aluminum cans: About $0.44 per pound
- Aluminum radiators: About $0.25 per pound
- Aluminum rims: About $0.44 per pound
- Aluminum siding: About $0.31 per pound
- Aluminum wire: About $0.49 per pound
- Cast aluminum: About $0.31 per pound
- Sheet aluminum: About $0.28 per pound
- Dirty aluminum: About $0.06 per pound; note that aluminum is considered “dirty” if it has plastic, rubber, or other metal attached.
Note that we calculated the prices above by compiling quotes from various scrap yards and averaging them. As with all metal scrap, aluminum prices fluctuate daily, and by region, so you may want to contact several scrap yards in your area to get the best price when selling aluminum.
How to Find Aluminum Scrap
Americans throw away upwards of $700 million in aluminum each year, mostly in the form of cans. While it can take a while to accumulate enough aluminum to sell in bulk at a scrap yard, you can gather aluminum scrap simply by saving your aluminum cans from soda, beer, vegetables, soups, pet food, and other food or drink products. One pound of aluminum equals about 30 cans. Be sure to check the minimum limit for aluminum cans before selling to a scrap yard.
Aluminum scrap is also found in many household appliances, such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, and ovens. It is worth noting, however, that disassembly is required when selling these items for scrap, and Freon must be removed from refrigerators and freezers by a professional.
Consider the following questions to confirm that you aren’t mistaking a different metal for aluminum:
- Does a magnet stick to it? If the answer is yes, you don’t have aluminum. Aluminum is non-ferrous, which means magnets won’t stick to it; instead, you likely have steel or a similar ferrous metal.
- Does it have any rust? Aluminum corrodes but does not rust. If your metal is flaking, it isn’t aluminum.
- Is it heavy? Aluminum is lighter and less dense than metals used in similar applications, such as steel.
If the metal you have does turn out to be steel, see our research on scrap stainless steel prices.
Where to Sell Aluminum Scrap
Depending on how quickly you want to get rid of your aluminum and how much you want to get paid, there are a few different ways to get rid of scrap aluminum: commercial scrap yards, deposit redemption centers, city or county governments, and local recycling centers.
Scrap yards and deposit redemption centers pay immediately, usually in cash. (Our research on recycling bottles for money has more information about which states charge deposits for cans and offer deposit redemption centers for easy recycling.) City or county governments may offer incentives like energy bill savings rather than cash payouts, and recycling centers typically don’t pay (but do help you avoid sending recyclable material to the landfill).
Before selling your metal, keep the following tips in mind:
- Scrap yards may be more willing to take aluminum in large quantities.
- It’s best to rinse and dry cans before recycling them.
- Crushing aluminum cans can make them easier to store, but some redemption centers in states with deposits require you not to crush them.
- Some city ordinances outlaw the collection of discarded cans in neighborhoods or parks.