Scrapping Metal

Ever since my oldest son was about 10 years old, we have been in the scrapping business. Wanting a way to make extra money, my husband taught him the value of scrap metal—aluminum cans, copper wire, old aluminum pots, etc.

He did this faithfully to earn money until he got his first “real” job at 15 and turned the scrapping business over to the next boy in line. Then, when the second son got a job, the third took over the scrapping, and now, the fourth son and current 10 year old, is in the scrapping business.

What does he scrap? Old appliances. You have to be careful because some appliance motors have something called a capacitor that holds a charge and will give a shock if mishandled. My husband is always nearby when a boy dismantles an appliance. But the motors have copper wiring that is worth money. Some appliances will also contain aluminum parts. My boys know how to use a magnet to test metals. Power cords or wire. The wire inside is copper; you just have to strip off the plastic coating. This is a tedious job and a lot of kids will baulk at the work. But, when they turn in their first load of copper at the junk yard and get their first pay, they will be glad. Old windows. Place the window down inside a trash can. Wearing safety goggles and thick leather gloves break the glass out of the frame. Remove all rivets or non-aluminum pieces. The frame is aluminum worth money. For a younger child, it is a good idea to have dad break out the glass before the child dismantles the frame. The same can be done with old storm doors. Old pots. Once the handles are removed from an aluminum pot or pan, the junk yard will pay top money for the bowl section. Soda/beer cans. Since we don’t drink either one, my boys have people save these for them. It takes a long time and a lot of cans to make it worthwhile, but they persevere.

Our boys have gotten so enthused with their scrapping business, you will often see them spying out yard sales for good scrappable material. Knowing the current price for metals is important when considering the cost of someone’s old junk. But, my husband has been known to buy spools of wire for a song, and strip it out for scrap.

What do you think the boys are learning from all this work? I’d like to hear your thoughts.




Scrapping Metal — 10 Comments

  1. What a fantastic idea. Scrapping metal is recycling rather than trashing. And hands-on work tends to advance thinking skills. Perhaps best of all in a culture where kids are typically restricted to activities that have no larger purpose beyond entertainment or education, this is a real task with real risks and rewards. Bravo!

  2. Thanks for the comments, Laura. Why do we have a society that cannot appreciate "work" as entertaining? Of course, I don't expect you to answer that 🙂

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