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How To Strip Copper Wire

by Antonin Fontai

Metal recycling is not only great for the environment, it is a great way to make some extra money from something you might normally just throw away. You can recycle a number of metals, including steel, aluminum and brass, but copper will fetch you the most money and is relatively easy to come by.

Where to find copper

Copper is commonly found insulated within the wires of many of your everyday electrical appliances. It is the second best conductor of electricity other than silver so it is commonly used but it comes at a fraction of the cost. Everything from large appliances like televisions, computers and refrigerators to smaller appliances like coffee makers, toasters and DVD players typically have wires that contain copper.

Most of the time people throw away their old electrical equipment without knowing the value of the wires. Visit your local junk yard with a pair or wire cutters and you'll come across pounds of perfectly good wiring.

In larger and more complex units like refrigerators or computers that often come with heavy duty cables it may be necessary to remove multiple layers of insulation in order to reach the copper inside.

Stripping your copper

Once you've accumulated enough copper you'll need to strip the metal from its insulation. The process is very easy but can be time consuming so make sure you've got enough copper to make it worth your while! You can use an everyday razorblade to do the job but this is often time consuming, not to mention, it becomes easier to slip and cut yourself. For safety, simplicity, and time preservation, it is recommended that you purchase a wire stripper, which can be found at your local hardware store.

Wire strippers come in various forms but all work in the same general way by slicing the insulation around the copper with opposing blades. More advanced models come with various sized holes which allow you to simply feed the appropriate wire through and pull from the other end, helping to free the copper in the process. These will cost more money but if you plan on recycling a lot of metal they can be worth your while.

Once you've cut the insulation you can simply pull the copper free and set it aside. Keep in mind that the metal will sell for about $2/lb. in the United States so you'll want to have enough scrap to make it worth your time. Visit a metal recycling business like Cen-Tex Scrap & Metal Inc for more information.