Copper is a commonly used material in everything from plumbing pipes and electrical conduit to wiring. You likely have scrap wire hanging around your home in the form of old appliances and broken power cords. Recycling the wire will keep items out of the landfill and likely result in a few dollars in your pocket.

1. Check With Local Recyclers

Before recycling, call around to local recyclers to find out specific requirements. Some recyclers, for example, don't accept wire but will take pipes and conduit. Others will only take wire that has been stripped and separated. Some companies may take both stripped and unstripped wire, but the amount they pay will be greatly decreased if you don't strip it. In some areas, you may also be required to show where the wire came from. This is to cut down on copper theft, which can be an issue in some localities.

2. Strip Thoroughly

Stripping is usually required, at least for the best price. The safest way to strip the wire is to use a utility knife to split the casing. Then, grasp the end of the wire with a pair of pliers and pull off the casing. It can be helpful to secure one end of the casing in a vice to make it easier to pull the wire free. Wear heavy gloves to protect your hands during this process. It is also possible to burn off the casing, but this isn't recommended. Not only does burning plastic produce hazardous gas, but it will also blacken the wire and lower its grade — thus lowering the price you can fetch.

3. Verify Copper Content

Once the wire is stripped it needs to be sorted and the content verified. Most wires are actually a collection of thinner wires once the casing is stripped off, and not all of the wires in the casing will be made of copper. Trying to recycle mixed metal wire bundles results in a lower price, if the recycler will even accept mixed bundles. Copper isn't magnetic, so use a magnet to verify which wires aren't copper.

4. Bundle for Ease

Once your wire is stripped and separated, it's time to bundle up the copper. Arrange the wires so they all lay in the same direction. Roll the end to create a small ball, then wind the wire around this ball as though you are winding yard. You can add to the ball as you acquire more wire.

5. Call for Final Pricing

Before taking the copper down to the recycler, check copper prices for a few days. Like any type of scrap metal, pricing will fluctuate. It can also vary between recyclers, so call around so you can ensure you are selling it for the best price.

Contact a copper wire recycling service or copper wire buyers to learn more about this process.