How To Get the Best Stainless Steel Scrap Price

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Stainless steel is one of the most common metals that is used in the USA. It can be found in your flatware, your desk, and even in the structural components of your home. This means there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there’s a good chance your local scrap yard is going to want your metal. The bad news is that because it is so common, the price per pound isn’t generally going to be very high.

This means you’ll want to maximize the profits your scrap stainless steel can get you. You’ll need to know how to get the best possible stainless steel price. This guide will show you how to do that, what you should look for when scrapping this metal, and what traps to avoid to make sure you don’t receive a price that’s too low.

What Is the Stainless Steel Price in the United States?

Most scrap yards in the United States are going to offer you a per pound price for your stainless steel scrap. Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure that all of your stainless steel scrap is separated from your general steel scrap. From there, you’ll also find that there are certain challenges that can make identifying the specific type of stainless steel difficult. That will be covered a little later below.

For now, here are the prices to expect for the 5 most common types of stainless steel scrap that are available in the USA right now.

  • 201 SS: $0.33 per pound.
  • 301 SS: $0.43 per pound.
  • 309 SS: $0.70 per pound.
  • 310 SS: $0.98 per pound.
  • 330 SS: $1.37 per pound.

There are various grades of stainless steel outside of these 5 common types. They are identified in series numbers that range from 100-600. Most of the other stainless steel series don’t bring in much for recycling value, unfortunately, so many scrap yards won’t even accept the metals. If they do, they may just considered it to be generic steel scrap and pay a bulk per ton rate instead of a per pound rate for these specific components.

How To Get the Best Stainless Steel Price

Stainless steel is a unique metal because it can sometimes be magnetic, but sometimes not be magnetic. It’s the one metal that is defined as being ferrous or non-ferrous based on the alloy that is combined with it. It can be so difficult to tell what type of stainless steel is present, or if the metal is actually aluminum, that sometimes even the most experienced scrappers can’t even figure out the differences in the metal.

That’s why to receive the best possible prices for this metal, you’ll need to run it through several tests so you can try to determine what metal it is and to what series the stainless steel belongs. Here are 4 ways you can try to figure out what your stainless steel scrap happens to be.

Test #1: Use a magnet on the metal scrap. If the magnet sticks to the metal, then you’ve just confirmed that it isn’t aluminum that you’ve got. What you probably have is a 400 series stainless steel scrap that won’t generally be accepted at a per pound rate. Check with your local yard first, but expect to just throw this in with your general steel scrap.

Test #2: Grind a piece of the metal with a grinding wheel. This is referred to as the “spark test.” If the metal is not magnetic and it gives off a spark, then what you’ve likely got is 300 series stainless steel scrap. If the metal is magnetic and it throws of a sparking glow, then you probably have plated steel instead of stainless steel. Set the 300 series scrap aside so you get the specific per pound rate for this metal.

Test #3: Now you’ll want to check your metal scrap for rust. Most types of aluminum will not corrode. Stainless steel, however, has been known to rust from time to time depending on the alloy that was used. If the rust covers 20% or more of the scrap, it won’t be accepted at the per pound recycling rate, so make sure you conduct a thorough inspection.

Test #4: Check the density of the metal scrap. Stainless steel is generally 3x heavier than aluminum. If the scrap metal feels like it has a bit of heft to it, then you’ve likely got stainless steel scrap. If not, then you might have aluminum.

You won’t be able to tell exactly what type of 300 series stainless steel scrap you have, but you can separate it from your aluminum. Follow these tests and you’ll have the a good chance to get the best stainless steel scrap price that is offered in your area. 

Where To Find Stainless Steel Scrap

Most of the stainless steel scrap that you’re going to find in the United States is 304 SS scrap. This is because it is commonly used in kitchen equipment, bathroom fixtures, exhaust systems, and machine shops. If you have older stainless steel appliances in your home and you’re thinking about an upgrade, then taking the appliance apart could give you some 304 SS scrap to sell as well. Most flatware that is used in the US is also generally made from stainless steel.

Many bathroom faucets, sinks, and other surfaces are also made with stainless steel today. It has become a popular surface because of its visual appeal, durability, and how easy it is to clean.

You’ll also find it used in plenty of business and manufacturing sectors. If you locate metal that has been disposed of and it is shiny and without rust, then hit it with a magnet. If the magnet doesn’t stick, then there’s a good chance that you have stainless steel. It could also be aluminum, but aluminum looks dull and gray compared to stainless steel.

How To Avoid Traps When Selling Stainless Steel Scrap

Some scrap yards are not setup to accept any stainless steel scrap. They will only offer you a generic ferrous metal rate when it comes to this metal, no matter what type it happens to be, and that means you’ll only receive $100 or so per ton of it. Considering even the lowest grade of stainless steel is worth an average of $660 per ton, that’s a big difference in pricing that must be considered.

You’ll also find that many scrap yards will stock up on stainless steel products to wait for the prices to increase. If they have exceeded how much scrap metal they’re able to hold while waiting for the prices per pound to rise, then your delivery may be refused.

Stainless steel scrap is also easy to obtain illegally in many communities because it is used so often. Plan on having your identification checked. Some scrap yards may only be authorized to pay for scrap metal to people in a proven region, so research this ahead of time to know if you’re being legitimately refused or if the price you’re being offered isn’t as competitive as it should be.

Aluminum prices tend to be around the same amount as stainless steel, so mistaking it isn’t going to break the bank. If you mix these two metals, however, you may be told that the price per pound is less. This isn’t necessarily true. You can negotiate your prices and manually separate metals to avoid any increase in the scrap yard premium.

What Stainless Steel Scrap Will Sell and What Will Not?

There may be quantity restrictions in place when it comes to stainless steel scrap. You may be required to meet a minimum weight before a delivery will be accepted. This minimum weight can vary from community to community, so it doesn’t hurt to call your local scrap yard to ask if any minimum deliveries apply and if there are any metals currently restricted.

Although there may be valves and other mounting components in your home that could be upgraded and recycled, they are generally made from 100 series stainless steel. These may not be accepted except under bulk steel guidelines. Certain communities may accept 500/600 series stainless steel, however, because of its higher levels of durability.

Otherwise all of your stainless steel scrap is generally accepted at your local scrap yard. It may also be accepted at your local landfill, but you’ll pay for the privilege of dumping it off as garbage and the landfill will separate the metals and earn the profits from it. You’re better off doing this work on your own.

The best stainless steel scrap price comes from 300 series scrap for most communities. If your stainless steel is not 200-300 series, then call ahead to see if your metals will even be accepted. Run the tests in this guide to determine what your scrap metal may be, then load it up, deliver it, and smile wide because you’ll have just earned yourself a nice pile of cash.

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