Tag Archives: rust

Can You Recycle Rusted Metals?

Do you have old car components that have been sitting outside for a while? Perhaps you have old, worn-down fencing or piping? In any case, you likely have a large heap of rusted out scrap metal on your hands.

So if you’re asking yourself – can rusted metal be recycled? The answer is generally “yes”.

Rust is a common name for a chemical compound known as iron oxide. This compound forms when iron reacts with water and oxygen, presenting itself as a rough, orange-red substance.

Rust can be removed from metal using household products like lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar and steel wool, or you can purchase chemicals to remove it. You can also coat metals ahead of time to prevent rusting.

If rust is left untreated, it can corrode through all the metal in your products and create holes, which will weaken the strength of these products. You probably wouldn’t want to sit in a chair or ride a bike with holes in the frame.


Rust and Recycling

When iron is first extracted from the earth, it is in an oxidized form known as ore. The smelting process involves breaking any bonds created by oxygen and iron so it can be refined into metals like steel. To recycle rusted metal, you need to remove the oxygen again.

In the recycling process for steel, the material is shredded and then melted to create new sheets of metal. If the rust is simply melted, it will re-form once the metal cools. That’s why the recycling process also includes purification, where elements like carbon can be added to bond with the oxygen and free the iron. This also removes other impurities like ink or dried paint.

Most scrap metal yards will pay you by weight, and metal with severe rust damage will weigh less. Scrap metal accepted for recycling must be a majority made of metal, so if your product is half-metal and half-plastic and the metal corrodes away, it likely won’t be accepted as scrap metal.


Tips for Recycling Rusted Metal

If you’re cleaning out a garage or shed filled with metal, you’ll likely find plenty of metal products to recycle. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Coat any metals that are outside (e.g., fences, lawn furniture) to prevent rust in the first place.
  • For reusable products (such as bicycles) with surface rust, use a natural product to remove rust and donate the product to a secondhand store or charity.
  • If you have products with rust holes or other major rust damage, call a scrap recycler to confirm whether or not the product is recyclable before transporting it or arranging pickup.

If you have any scrap metal on your hands – rusted or not, get in touch with Manville Recycling today for a quote. Or, if you’re unsure whether your rusted metal is recyclable, contact us and we’ll advise you the best we can.



Can You Recycle Rusted Metals?

Rust is the common name for a chemical compound known as iron oxide. This compound forms when iron reacts with water and oxygen, presenting itself as a rough, orange-red substance. Technically speaking, only iron and alloys that contain iron can rust. Other metals, including precious metals like gold and silver, can corrode in a similar way.


What sets certain metals apart?

The duration of time it takes for certain metals to begin rusting (or corroding) is what sets these materials apart. Regardless, in almost all cases, rust is a nuisance. Not only is it unsightly, its a hindrance to functionality as well. If you allow rust to exist on a metal object for a long enough period of time, it can start to eat through the object, slowly compromising its structural integrity. 

The good news, however, is rust can often be removed. Because it can be removed, rusted metal objects can usually still be recycled.

Be warned though. The more rust that eats away as a metal object, the less that object is going to weight, and the less money you’ll be able to get for recycling it.


Does Copper Rust?

Copper does not rust, however, it does corrode. Copper is naturally brown and turns a shade of bright green as it corrodes. While some consider copper’s reaction to be tarnish rather than oxidation, the metal still undergoes a similar “rusting” process.


Reducing the recycling value.

The fact of the matter is that regardless of whether or not you remove it, rust can reduce the recycling value of a metal item. For this reason, its wise to try to prevent rust from forming in the first place. 

If you have metal object that are only slightly rusted, you can usually rid remove the rust in just a short amount of time. There are a number of substances that can be used to remove rust from metal. In most cases, however, its easiest to try to remove rust with a sander or grinder.

 If you have have heavily-rusted items on your hands, and if you’re looking to recycle them, your best bet would be to sell them to a metal recycling company. After rust is already caked on any object, its nearly impossible to remove entirely. 

However, keep in mind that a metal recycling company will be able to melt down your rusted metal objects, separating their usable parts so that they can be used for new purposes.