How to Find Platinum and Silver Hiding in Piles of Mixed Scrap

Have you ever swept the floor in a machine shop? I have, because I worked in several machine shops when I was a student. I can tell you, metal bits really piled up under milling machines. There were also a lot of little coiled metal “worms” under lathes, metallic “saw dust” under electric cutoff saws, and little bits and pieces of copper and stainless steel under big pedal-operated shears that were used to cut long slices from rolls of metal.

I’d sweep up at the end of the day, then dump a pound or two of metallic scrap into a waste receptacle. Was silver or platinum hidden in the stuff I dumped? I don’t think so, because the machine shops where I worked were mostly making products like stainless steel filters for steam fittings.

However – and this is a big “however” – things were different in one of the businesses where I worked, where a lot of welding and brazing were going on. There, I had instructions to set aside any welding byproducts. And there were lots of them, including little unused ends of welding rods and little round globs of melted metal that flew off in all directions during welding and brazing.

Credit: Halfpoint/iStock.

Credit: Halfpoint/iStock.

Have you ever seen sparks flying when someone was using an arc welder or oxyacetylene welding torch? The sparks you see are little bits of molten metal that fall to the floor as powder and then cool. If silver is contained in the metals being bonded (or if it is contained in the rods used for brazing, as it often is), it will fall to the floor where it will be swept up – maybe by a young employee like I was, at the end of the day.

You Cannot Spot Most Intermixed Silver or Platinum Scrap with the Naked Eye

Little leftover pieces of welding and brazing rods are easy to see and separate from piles of metal shavings and scrap. They simply look different from all the metallic powders and wormy squiggles and other odd bits that pile up on machine shop floors.

But what if silver or platinum powders and squiggles are there, only mixed in with similar-looking scrap that is made of base, white-toned metals like aluminum or stainless steel? You’re looking at a mixed-up, jumbled mess of stuff. How can you find precious metals that could be hiding?

Simple answer. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and send us a sample. We’ll tell you what’s in your sample and – better yet – give you a written estimate of what your scrap is worth. When you call, ask about how much it will cost to ship your materials to us for testing. The low cost could surprise you. In many cases, we are able to offer free or discounted shipping on materials that are sent to us for testing.

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