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Thanks for the kind words!

I'll have you all know the wife and I just returned from Las Vegas where I turned some of my copper money in to more money on the penny slot machines at Treasure Island.

Miss Belle,

Congratulations for finding your gold mine. The first piece of advice I would give you as a new copper miner is BE SAFE! By this I mean get a pair of rubber palmed gloves at either Lowe's or Home Depot. The one's I get are about $3.99 per pair. These gloves have a pretty durable rubber palm that allows you to pick up the smallest copper piece. They also will provide grip for stripping the wire. Next is a pair of comfortable safety glasses. Mine are yellow in tint. This is to provide eye protection from saw dust and other debris in the dumpster. Wear them when your not only diving, but also when your cutting as the sharp tool against the soft copper will produce plenty of "glitter type" material. It is also VERY IMPORTANT to wear these safety glasses when stripping the long 3+ feet of their white / yellow / orange / black outer coating. There is nothing worse than to be stripping one of these pieces and have a sharp end fly around and hit you in the face. It will happen so BE CAREFUL. A small scratch on the face, arms, hands is one thing, but a poke in the eye might derail the benefits of your copper cutting plans.

Next is be careful for other dumpster divers searching for the same material. If you follow the same pattern I have you will know when another diver beat you to the product. You will see a newly wired house, check the dumpster only to find the majority of the materail already gone. During your diving you will probably also meet other divers who are looking for wood, bricks, cinder blocks and shingles. Depending on the homes exterior you might also find cedar siding. I once got in to a conversation with a fellow diver who had his S-10 pick up full of various sizes of cedar siding. I asked what he was going to do with all that cedar and he replied "make birdhouses". A noble cause and since I wasn't having much luck that night I helped him load more. I'm not trying to scare you, but be observant of other people in the area that might be in the new sub-division for less legal reasons such as vandalism or theft. I would suggest to you to have your id available if some form of police were to ask what you are doing and ask to see your id. If you see any broken windows, kicked / punched in insulation or dry wall I would suggest staying away from that area as you do not want to be associated with being seen lurking around a vandalized home.

I would look in your local phone book under recycling / metals / waste for a recycler near you. If you are anything like my hometown you will probably find 5 - 7 recyclers of copper. They usually also take aluminium cans so you might also start saving / diving those also. Once you have identified the recyclers in your area I would probably call and ask about prices. Stripped copper, in my area, is called #1 copper and is bare copper electrical conduit. You might ask them if they have #2 copper which I don't exactly know what that is and copper plumbing tubing is another kind of material. It has been my experience that copper tubing, although bright, shiny and bare IS NOT the same as # 1 copper wire. I believe this might be a material purity issue, but am not sure. If you give me the area of the country you are writing from I would be happy to look in the phone book for you and help you find a scrap dealer in which to turn in your product. Prices between scrap dealers may differ from $.03 to $.10+ per pound. My thought always has been you have done the work and now you should be paid the highest dollar amount for your efforts.

The original scrap dealer I went to used one of those OLD triple beam scales that you slid the weights across. I'm sure he was doing nothing wrong, but I did not get the best feeling that I was being accurately paid since he moved the weights so quickly to determine the weight. The next scrap dealer I went to, right down the road from the first, uses electronic scales that you can read the weight from if you know where to look. Before you unload your copper you might pay attention to how the material of others is being weighed and where to view the weight. Typically you will be handed a scrap ticket that lists the material and weight of that material. You are then instructed to take that ticket to the "office" for payment.

An additional piece of advice would be to observe other types of metal you may find in the dumpster such as aluminium siding, eve and downspouts and garage door panels. If you have a pick up you are already one step further ahead than I am. You might also find braided aluminium cable encased in hard plastic coating. I have not figured out exactly what this is used for in the home construction process, but I can tell you that it brings about $.45 per pound with the hard plastic coating still on. If you find other pieces of metal that may be unique to your part of the country I would take a small sample to the scrap dealer and ask if it has any recycling value. You will find plenty of nails, nuts, bolts and other pieces of iron, but it has been my experience in central Ohio that this material brings about $.005 per pound and is not worth the effort to pick up and recycle. When checking with scrap dealers you might also find one that recycles paper / cardboard. I don't know if this would be worth while or not, but as the houses move from electrical in to the plumbing and finish stages of construction you will find the toilet boxes and big cabinet boxes which are made of heavy grade card board. I once read some where that is stuff was desireable, but my wife would kill me if I brought another recycleable material in to our garage.

Good luck with this activity. I hope that you find as much satisfaction and profit as I have over the years. I have used this extra "hobby" money to buy several shares of stock which are used to pad our retirement savings and contiune to give back in the form of dividends each and every quarter. Watch out for other treasures you will probably find along the way such as lawn chairs, grills and swing sets. Don't be surprised by what you might find. Wear your safety glasses and check out EACH and EVERY closed box to find yet another potential treasure.

Feel free to write me privately.

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