Many households feature at least some scrap metal that's worth something. While it's tempting to simply throw it away, doing so means missing out on the chance to make money. In some cases, such as disposing of car engines and computers, you can harm the environment. Before you start sifting through your junk, it's a good idea to learn about the most effective ways to scrap it.

Separate different bits of scrap metal

At the most basic level, you should separate ferrous and non-ferrous metal. Non-ferrous is usually worth more money, but that doesn't mean your local scrapyard won't accept ferrous. You can differentiate between the two using a magnet. If the magnet sticks, it's ferrous. 

Additionally, you might want to separate the metals according to type. Some scrapyards may pay more for scrap brass, copper and titanium. Brass and copper are often easy to spot, so if you can strip an item down to separate it from other materials, do so.

Make sure you're not wasting your time

If this is your first time scrapping metal or you're using a new local facility, call ahead to make sure it accepts the metal you want to scrap. Loading your car or van and driving to a yard is time-consuming, so you don't want to waste your efforts on visiting somewhere that will turn you away.

While you're calling the yard, consider asking the owner for a rough estimate on how much you will get for your efforts. You may want to consider calling a few before making a visit, especially if they're all within the same area.

Break your scrap metal apart sensibly

Sometimes it's worth breaking your scrap metal apart to remove other components. However, this isn't always the case. Knowing when to strip items down can prevent injuries, save money and save time.

With items such as car engines, it's better to leave them in one piece unless you're an expert. Similarly, heavy items such as washing machines can become challenging. In contrast, you might find that breaking apart a microwave or air conditioning unit is possible. When considering whether to break an item up, think about how familiar you are with its structure, any risks to yourself, and the amount of time it will take to break up versus how much you'll earn.

Scrapping your metal is a rewarding way to make extra cash. In the process, you'll do the environment a favour. Wherever you sell your scrap metal, always make sure you use a licensed facility.