How Much Is Scrap Brass Worth in 2023? An Expert‘s Guide

Have you ever wondered if those old brass fixtures, pipes, and decor collecting dust in your garage are worth anything? As an antiques expert and collector, I can assure you – brass is a valuable commodity that can earn you a pretty penny if you decide to scrap or recycle it. But exactly how much money are we talking about here?

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll break down everything you need to know about the current value of scrap brass, factors that impact the price, and how to go about selling your brass for maximum profit. Let‘s dive in!

Brass 101: Why It‘s a Valuable Metal

First, a quick refresher on what makes brass so special. Brass is a metal alloy primarily composed of copper and zinc, often with small traces of other metals like tin or lead mixed in. The ratio of copper to zinc changes the properties and classification of the brass.

The unique composition of brass makes it:

  • Highly durable and corrosion-resistant
  • An excellent conductor of heat
  • Relatively low melting point compared to other metals
  • Aesthetically appealing with a bright gold-like appearance

Thanks to this winning combination of attributes, brass is used extensively in industries like:

  • Plumbing and piping
  • Musical instruments (especially brass instruments like trumpets)
  • Ammunition casings
  • Decorative metalwork and sculptures
  • Electrical components and wiring
  • Locks, gears, bearings and valves

As you might guess, the widespread applications for brass, coupled with the cost of the copper and zinc materials needed to produce it, make brass a perennially in-demand metal with a solid scrap value. So how much is brass worth at the scrapyard today?

Current Scrap Brass Prices

The price for scrap brass fluctuates based on market conditions, but as of early 2023, the average price ranges are as follows:

Scrap Brass Price Per Pound

  • 70% copper / 30% zinc (Red Brass): $1.70 – $2.00 per lb
  • 85% copper / 15% zinc (Semi-Red Brass): $1.80 – $2.10 per lb
  • 35% zinc / 65% copper (Yellow Brass): $1.40 – $1.70 per lb
  • Mixed, unclassified brass: $1.30 – $1.60 per lb
  • Brass shell casings: $1.20 – $1.50 per lb
  • Dirty brass (with contaminant metals): $0.80 – $1.20 per lb

As you can see, the greater the copper content, the higher the value of the brass. Red brass and semi-red brass command the highest prices due to their higher copper composition. But even the lower-grade yellow and mixed brass are still quite valuable in the scrap metal market.

Keep in mind, these price ranges are just averages – the actual price you get for your brass will depend on several key factors:

4 Factors That Impact Scrap Brass Prices

1. Type and Quality of Brass

As the price chart above shows, the type of brass has a big impact on value. But beyond that, the quality and purity of each type of brass matters too. Brass that is free of contaminant metals or corrosion will command a premium price.

2. Quantity

As with most commodities, selling a larger quantity of brass will often net you a better price per pound. Scrapyards prefer to buy in bulk when possible. If you have a sizeable load of brass to offload, you‘ll likely get a better offer than for just a few pounds of scrap.

3. Current Market Conditions

Like any commodity, brass prices ebb and flow based on the dynamics of supply and demand. Seasonality can also be a factor. Typically, brass prices tend to be higher in the spring and summer months, when construction and industrial activity picks up. Prices may dip in the slower winter months.

4. Local Scrapyard Competition

Finally, the number of scrapyards or recycling centers in your local area can impact the going rate for scrap brass. More competition typically means better prices for sellers, as yards vie for your business.

The takeaway here is that it pays to check prices regularly and shop around a bit for the best deal before committing to sell. But how do you know if what you have is actually brass?

Is This Brass? How to Tell

To the untrained eye, brass can sometimes be confused with other metals like copper and bronze. Here are a few simple tricks you can use to test if a piece of metal is brass:

  1. Check the color. Brass typically has a muted yellow or gold color. A reddish tint indicates a higher copper content (i.e. red brass).

  2. Test it with a magnet. Brass is non-ferrous and not magnetic. So if a magnet sticks to it, you know it‘s not brass.

  3. Look for stamped labels. Some brass items may be imprinted with "BRASS" or terms like "red brass" or "semi-red brass" to identify the type of metal.

Of course, a trained scrap metal expert will be able to quickly identify brass just by look and feel. Speaking of experts, let‘s look at some of their top tips for selling brass for the best price…

5 Pro Tips for Scrapping Brass

1. Separate your brass from other metals

To get the best price, it pays to sort your brass and keep it segregated from other scrap metals. For an even better price, sort the different types/grades of brass from one another (e.g. group all your red brass separate from yellow brass and so on).

2. Clean it up

Surface-level cleaning and removal of stuck-on debris, corrosion, paints and coatings can boost the price your brass fetches. You don‘t have to go crazy polishing it up, but a bit of elbow grease can reap rewards.

3. Remove non-brass attachments

Price per pound for brass drops quickly when other contaminant metals are present. Cut off or detach any steel, aluminum, or plastic fittings attached to brass fixtures before hauling them in for sale.

4. ‘Feed the the beast‘

Some scrappers refer to this as "feeding the beast" – basically, make a habit of routinely collecting sources of brass to recycle, and stockpile it until you have a sizeable load to bring in all at once. This maximizes your time and ensures you get the best bulk price.

5. Know your stuff (and when to walk away)

Ultimately, a little brass scrapping know-how goes a long way. Familiarize yourself with current prices, in-demand brass grades, and the best yards/recyclers in your area. And if a price seems suspiciously low, don‘t be afraid to take your brass business elsewhere.

Brass Recycling Benefits: It‘s Not Just About the Cash

On that note, I want to take a moment to point out that recycling brass isn‘t just a great way to put a little green in your pocket – it‘s also a much greener option for the planet!

Brass is infinitely recyclable, meaning it can be reprocessed and reused over and over without degrading in quality. Recycling brass is also far more energy- and cost-efficient than mining and refining new brass from raw copper and zinc.

So beyond the monetary incentive, scrapping your old brass is simply the right thing to do. It keeps a valuable, versatile metal in circulation and out of landfills.

Brass Scrapping FAQs

We covered a lot of ground in this guide to scrap brass value, but there are always a few lingering questions. Here are some quick answers to common brass scrapping queries:

Q: What‘s the most valuable type of scrap brass?
A: Typically red brass (85%+ copper content) is the most valuable, followed by semi-red brass. Yellow brass is on the lower end price-wise. But any type of brass still has decent scrap value today.

Q: How much do large, commercial brass items like boat propellers sell for?
A: It depends, but sizeable brass fixtures weighing hundreds of pounds can easily fetch $500-$1000+ at the scrapyard. The size, quality and type of brass all factor into the price.

Q: Can I sell brass-plated items?
A: Unfortunately, brass plating contains only trace amounts of actual brass and is not nearly as valuable as solid brass items. Brass-plated steel, zinc or pot metal items are best sold/recycled as scrap steel.

Q: Does brass rust?
A: Nope! One of the great things about brass is that it does not contain iron, so it will never rust like conventional steel. It may tarnish or corrode over time, but it will not rust.

The Bottom Line on Brass

As you can see, that pile of old brass chandeliers, decor, and plumbing fixtures collecting dust in storage is far from worthless! With scrap brass prices currently ranging from $1.30-$2.10 per pound on average, recycling brass is a smart way to clear space and make some fast cash.

I hope this expert guide to valuing and selling scrap brass helps you navigate the brass recycling process like a pro. With these tips for identifying, sorting and cleaning up brass for maximum profit, you‘re well on your way to getting the best possible price for your brass.

And remember, by keeping brass in the recycling stream, you‘re not only helping your wallet – you‘re helping sustain our planet‘s precious natural resources. It‘s a win-win all around!

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