How to Clean Scrap Copper for Recycling


Recycling copper is not only a good way to help the environment, it is also a good way to make some extra cash. Salvage yards pay more for copper than any other metal and even a small amount has a good amount of weight since it is such a heavy metal. Copper must have the insulation removed from it in order to be recycled and most facilities will not accept copper that has not been cleaned.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire strippers
  • Utility knife
  • Bucket
  • Cut larger pieces of wire into manageable pieces that are a foot long.

  • Use the wire strippers to remove the first few inches of insulation from the wire to give you something to grip.

  • Hold the stripped end in one hand and use the utility knife to cut down the length of the wire.

  • Peel the insulation away from the copper and discard.

  • Cut the bare wire into smaller pieces and place in a bucket or other container.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are cleaning large wire such as a utility cable, lay it flat on a stable surface and cut down the length with the utility knife. Peel the insulation away from the copper.
  • Be sure to bring your identification along when taking copper to be recycled. It is necessary to help prevent theft.


  • Photo Credit copper cable image by Witold Krasowski from
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