Five Places to Find Platinum Thermocouples and Other Precious Metal Scrap for Free

We have often written on this blog about places where you can acquire precious metal scrap for pennies on the dollar. Today we would like to offer advice on a higher level, by telling you about some places where you can get precious metal scrap for free.

You can get precious metal scrap for free for a very simple reason . . .

When people are in a hurry to get rid of stuff, they toss it or give it away.

Who are the “people” we are referring to? They are individuals who are emptying out factories, stores, hospitals and other facilities. Sometimes these people are in such a hurry that they literally give scrap of all kinds away and if you offer to take it off their hands, you can haul it away. At other times, those people have dumped their scrap or put it in dumpsters, and it could be available for free.

Does that sound too good to be true? In many cases, it is. However, we would like to offer one piece of advice . . .

Always get permission before you pull up a truck and start hauling anything away.

Don’t assume that materials that are in the places we describe in today’s post don’t belong to someone. You might think, for example, that the “stuff” that is sitting in a dumpster no longer belongs to anybody. Even though the people who ordered that dumpster might be willing to give stuff away, it still belongs to them, and they could call the police if you show up and start dumpster diving.

So again, always ask permission before you start picking up scrap of any kind. With that warning in mind, let’s consider some places where you really can claim thermocouple scrap, electronics, and other precious metals for free.

Unofficial Dumps

When individuals need to get rid of a lot of stuff quickly, they sometimes drive to the end of a street in an industrial area and simply toss stuff into the undergrowth and bushes. What they are doing is illegal. But you might be surprised to learn that a lot of valuable scrap ends up in these unofficial dumping areas. Common items include old computers and monitors, appliances like window air conditioners, televisions, and even large quantities of thermocouple wire that was torn out of buildings and industrial sites.

Before you pull up your truck and start hauling this scrap away, contact the police and ask whether you can do so. If you do get permission, be sure to write down the name and title of the law-enforcement officer who gave you the green light or better yet, get something in writing from the police department. That way if the police show up while you are rummaging through the underbrush, you can demonstrate that you obtained permission to do what you are doing.


Everybody loves dumpsters, and everybody loves dumpster-diving. Dumpsters that are sitting near all kinds of facilities – hospitals, factories, apartment buildings, stores – can be good places to find those thermocouples, old computers, used medical testing equipment, and more. It is often free for the taking but again, ask before you jump into that dumpster and start rooting around. (The only thing worse than getting arrested is getting arrested while you are standing in a dumpster.)

Even better? Speak with the individuals who ordered a dumpster and offer to haul away what they want to get rid of before it ever lands there. Again, the principal you are applying is that people need to get rid of stuff and are willing to give it to you if you do them a favor and simply haul it away.

Garbage Pick-Up Areas Behind Retail Stores

We recently drove down a road behind a large electronics retailer and discovered that the store was tossing all kinds of interesting stuff that included store fixtures, signs and . . . get this . . . an old cash register and five old computers, all of which contained small quantities of gold in their internal printed circuit boards.

Let’s not harp on this but be sure to talk to a store manager or owner before you start helping yourself to stuff. The store could be waiting for a carting company to come take it away, so ask first.

Town Dumps

They are great places to find old televisions and computers, often neatly set aside in special drop-off areas or dumpsters. If you speak with the technicians who operate these facilities, they might give you permission to haul away the electronics they have in their sites or suggest that you get permission from someone on town hall. In some cases, you can negotiate an agreement in which you become the official electronics recycler for a municipality. (Bear in mind that you might need to present some documentation showing that you are a company that has obtained a recycling certification in your state.) 

Schools, Colleges and Hospitals

A few years ago these facilities were eagerly tossing away large quantities of older desktop computers and peripherals, all of which contained small quantities of gold that could be recycled. It was literally a gold mine. That opportunity has come and gone, yet these institutions still discard a variety of electronic devices that contain precious metals, including whiteboards, projectors, outmoded medical testing machines, and even telephone systems.

Go speak with these facilities and offer to haul away whatever they don’t need. If you become their recycler of choice, you are in a good position to discover and profit from the precious metals that are contained in the devices they no longer need.

And What Will You Do with All that Scrap?

Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344, tell us what you have and let us take it from there. We will test your scrap, give you a full report on the precious metals your scrap contains, and recycle them. This is what we do, so give us a call when you are ready to move forward and profit from precious metal scrap.