Make More Money Recycling Precious Metals with this Special List of Our Best 2015 Blog Posts

Make More Money Recycling Precious Metals with this Special List of Our Best 2015 Blog Posts

Last year we published a list of the most popular blog posts that we ran in 2014 – the ones that had been viewed by the most people and that had generated the greatest number of comments. We’ve created a different list of best posts this year. They are posts that contain the kind of useful information that can quickly put a lot of money in your pocket – maybe even in time for the holidays. 

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Three Easy-to-Overlook Sources of Silver Scrap

Three Easy-to-Overlook Sources of Silver Scrap

Silver might not be worth a lot of money per ounce – it is trading for a little less than $15.00 right now. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a lot of money trading it. The key is to collect large quantities of the metal at below-market prices and then call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss your recycling options.

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Lock in Future Silver Price Increases Today . . .

Lock in Future Silver Price Increases Today . . .

If you have been waiting to recycle or sell silver until trading prices rise, we invite you to consider a Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners Pool Account.  Our Pool Account offers significant benefits, including the ability to sell your silver when prices rise in the future.

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Recycling Precious Metals: Our Top Blog Posts of 2014

Recycling Precious Metals: Our Top Blog Posts of 2014

Recycling precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium can be a complicated business. There could be treasure hiding in the most unusual places, and businesses and consumers alike are always on the lookout for tips, tricks and advice. Our top blog posts, as determined by our readers, represent a collection of knowledge you may find just as worthwhile to read as they have.

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Open Things Up, Find Precious Metals, Make Money

In the last five years, I have been in two old buildings that contained large old safes that could not be opened. One building was a small inn in New Hampshire, the other was a former plumbing supply store in New Jersey. In both instances, the buildings had recently been purchased, so the safes and their contents belonged to the new owners. But those owners didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to bring in a locksmith to open the safes to determine what was inside.

If I owned those safes, I would have been in a hurry. What were the new owners waiting for? I have no idea, because “closed boxes” sometimes contain surprisingly valuable items. And “closed boxes” can come in many forms . . .

As this photo shows, you never know what precious metal objects you might find in your house that Specialty Metals can recycle into extra money for you.

Clutter Lying Around the House

A cousin of mine who was cleaning up his basement storage shelves found a box that he and his wife had never opened. When he looked inside, he discovered a set of silver-plated candlesticks from a prestigious store. Where had they come from? Was it a wedding present that he and his wife had never bothered to open? He and his wife didn’t know, but they did know that they had something on their hands that was worth money.

Small Items Hiding in Drawers

When I open my dresser drawer and review what is rolling around in there, a lot of items appear worthless. But I also see a set of very old tuxedo-shirt studs that came from “somewhere” and look like gold. There is also an old set of cufflinks, which came from the same “somewhere.” I could use some cash for holiday spending. I should send them to a trustworthy, qualified gold refiner and recycler like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners for testing.

Inherited Items

I know people who inherited “stuff” from parents or grandparents, and who have never quite gotten around to taking a close look at it or having it appraised. They have just put it all aside. It can be a good and very profitable idea to review what you have inherited, especially if you are lucky enough to have acquired items like coin collections or chests of jewelry. If you open them up, you might find one or two small items that are worth a lot of money.

Items Hidden in Older Homes

This is a long shot, I know. But I also know that when some renovations were being completed in the old house where I grew up, we found a collection of old books hidden behind a false wall by the basement stairs. They were not worth much of anything. But if you have an old house, it could be a good idea to look around. In the old days, it seems that people liked to hide valuable things in houses.  That newer patch of cement in the basement floor could be hiding something. So could a floorboard in your bedroom. Remember, metal detectors can be used indoors as well as outdoors. If you have an old home, you could turn up something quite valuable.

Keys to Safety Deposit Boxes

If you have inherited the personal possessions of an older relative who has passed away, have you taken a close look at his or her keys? If any of them are stamped with the name of a bank, you could have the opportunity to discover things of value like gold jewelry that your relative wanted to protect in a safety deposit box.

A Note on Unclaimed Safety Deposit Boxes

If you search online for “unclaimed bank safety deposit box auctions” you will probably find them in your state. Don’t get your hopes up too high, however, that you will buy an unopened deposit box and discover piles of gold in it. The problem is that in virtually all cases, those boxes have been opened by the bank so that their contents could be turned over to the state agency that attempts to return unclaimed property to its owners. The items that go on sale at auction are those that could not be returned – and if they are worth a lot of money, they have already been “discovered” and will be selling for high prices.

Find Something? Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners

Even small items that contain precious metals can be worth money – money that could come in very handy at the time of year when the holiday shopping season is about to begin. Why not contact Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to learn more?

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What Are Your Collectable Medals Worth?

When a medal sold for $1.47 million last year, lots of people started to dust off their medals and look at them with renewed interest. Granted, that medal was something unbelievably special. It was one of the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?)

If you own a commemorative medal – or maybe a quantity of them - how much value do you have in hand? It depends, because the value of medals depends on several factors.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

The Collectable Worth

The value of a commemorative medal is affected by a number of factors that include age, country of origin, rarity, and the history of the person or event honored by the medal. (This could be harder to determine, especially if you obtained the medals at an estate sale, garage sale or antique dealer.) How can you research those variables? Here are resources to use . . .

  • Contact an independent appraiser or expert. These organizations can help you connect with one: The American Numismatic Society; the American Numismatic Association; the Token and Medal Society. Note that it is wisest not to get your medals appraised by a dealer who then buys them; if dishonest, he or she could be lowballing you and stealing dollars right out of your pocket.
  • Research the sales of similar or identical medals at auctions. You can start out by checking previous or current sales of similar medals on eBay. Another option is to visit the websites of auction houses that regularly hold auctions of medals and medallic art. They include: Bonhams; Christies; and Spink.

The Value of the Metals that Your Medals Contain

If your medal(s) do not have high collectable value, your next step is to determine the metals that they are made of.

How can you tell? Sometimes it is easy. Jesse Owens’s gold medal was made of real gold, of course. And silver and bronze medals are often (but not always) made of those metals too. Sometimes, commemorative medals will come with documentation that spells out exactly which metals they contain, especially if they are military medals.

Short of such clear signals, it can be difficult to know the makeup of the medals that you own. There are variables, including country of origin and age. In general, newer commemoratives – especially those manufactured in large quantities over the last few years – are apt to contain lower quantities of precious metals than are older medals that were issued in small editions.

If you are trying to determine the value of the metals in a batch of commemorative medals, your wisest strategy is to contact a qualified precious metals recycler or refiner, like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

To Summarize Your Steps . . .

To sum up the advice in today’s post, your first step is to establish the collectible value of your medals. Then, if they do not have high value to collectors, you should determine the value of the precious metals that they contain. For that, you need the services of a top precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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There Could Be More Gold in Old Commemoratives and Trophies than You Think
Don’t Let Precious Metals Slip through Your Fingers when You’re Liquidating an Estate
Scams to Avoid when Selling Precious Metals
Recycling Gold Filled Scrap - Big Dollars Could Be Hiding in Small Items
An Invitation to Jewelers, Pawnbrokers and Other Jewelry Professionals to Partner with Our Precious Metals Refinery

Recent Rare Coin Discoveries Teach a Valuable Lesson to Us All

If you’ve ever cleaned out an old family home, you’ve probably had the experience of opening a dresser drawer and finding a large quantity of coins rolling around there – the pocket change that some relative of yours tossed there 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.

On first glance, those coins usually appear to be nothing more than regular pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. It’s tempting to give them a very quick once-over before spending them or depositing them in a bank.

Photo of silver coins that Specialty Metals can recycle and refine for your company.

But the fact is, appearances can be deceiving. Even if you come across a batch of coins that don’t look unusual, it is still worth taking them to a reputable coin dealer and having them examined. Even a coin that looks unremarkable could have collectable value. And there is also the chance that you have discovered one gold or silver coin that is really valuable – either for its rarity or its gold or silver content – that you could easily overlook.

Coins End Up in Unusual Places

Two very unusual stories about coins have made the news recently. Both illustrate that it can be a costly mistake to make a snap judgment about what you are looking at after you discover a collection of coins.

As these stories prove, batches of coins can contain some very surprising secrets.

  • Discovery oneAn ancient Roman coin was discovered in northern Russia. When a team of archaeologists was recently excavating and examining the contents of an eleventh-century mound in Novgorod, Russia, they found a fourth-century Roman coin buried there. They guess that a Russian pilgrim to the holy land had acquired the coin and brought it back with him – but there is no way to know exactly how that old coin traveled so far. Coins do that – they seem to have a magical life of their own.
  • Discovery twoTwenty-six Iron Age and Roman coins were found in a cave in Derbyshire, England. It is not too unusual to discover a batch of old coins. But one recent find in England is very odd because it co-mingled coins that come from very different civilizations. Some of the coins are Roman issues that were apparently hidden there before the Romans had even occupied Great Britain. How did they get there? The archaeologists who found them are puzzled.

What Rare Coin Discoveries Will You Make?

Again, let’s remember that unusually valuable coins can be hidden in older coin collections and odd lots. If you come across coins with valuable quantities of precious gold or silver, call us at 800-426-2344. We’re here to help solve the mystery of what your discoveries could be worth. More importantly, we are the precious metals refinery that can turn your discovery into cold, shiny cash.

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Why You Need the Best Precious Metals Refinery to Recycle Your Silver Salts

Silver salts and compounds are used in an unusually wide selection of products that include pottery glazes, antiseptics, photographic materials, and more. Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners will be pleased to test and recycle your silver salts and pay you for the silver that they contain. But before you call us to discuss what you have, let’s answer a few basic questions about this very versatile family of chemical compounds.

Image of silver nitrate crystals, one type of silver salts that can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals. Image Credit: By W. Oelen (http://woelen.homescience.net/science/index.html) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image of silver nitrate crystals, one type of silver salts that can be recycled and refined by Specialty Metals. Image Credit: By W. Oelen (http://woelen.homescience.net/science/index.html) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What Kind of Silver Compounds Can You Recycle with Us?

  • Silver bromide and bromides – These yellow-colored, insoluble soft salts are widely used in photographic film and materials and their manufacturing. You can find them in developing solutions, film, and light-sensitive papers. If you have reserves of chemicals from a company that manufactured those materials or if your company once did, you could have a quantity of those compounds that is worth recycling.
  • Silver chloride and chlorides - These white-colored crystalline solids are most commonly found in silver chloride electrodes that are used in the production of photographic film and materials and in other industrial processes. Yet the compound has many other applications too. It is used for glazing pottery, coating optics, and even as an antimicrobial agent that is used in bandages and commercial deodorants. If you were involved in the production of any of those products, or have acquired a company that was, you could have quantities of silver chloride.
  • Silver nitrate – This compound has a colorful history. It was a favorite of medieval alchemists, who thought that it might be able to turn compounds of base metals into gold. That idea probably arose because silver nitrate dissolves the silver in gold/silver alloys, leaving only the gold behind. (Albertus Magnus observed that happening and wrote about it in the 13th century.) In the centuries that followed, silver nitrate was put to many uses as a disinfectant. At one time, eye drops that contained it were routinely dripped into the eyes of newborn babies to prevent infections. It was also widely used to prevent infection in wounds. Those practices largely disappeared with the development of modern antibiotics, but silver nitrate is still used in topical antiseptics like chlorhexidine. If you have been involved in the production of antiseptics or have acquired a company that was, you could own valuable quantities of silver nitrate.

How Much Are Your Silver Salts Worth?

Because silver salts contain different quantities of silver, we need to test them before we can tell you how much silver they contain. If you have a quantity of them and would like a top silver refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to test them, please give us a call at 800-426-2344.

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How Tariffs Affect the Value of Your Precious Metals Holdings

As you have read on this blog before, many precious metals that are in demand in America are not mined here. When they are imported into the United States, they are subject to import tariffs. If you want an overview of what those tariffs are, you can learn more in a government document entitled The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.

Tariffs affect the prices of precious metals in many interesting ways. The bottom line is that high tariffs increase both the cost and the market value of imported metals. If a tariff is added to an imported metal like silver, that pulls up the market value; the value of metals that are not imported, but recycled and refined, rises too.

Photo of gold jewelry which is in increasing demand in India, raising the prices you can get for recycling your gold at Specialty Metals.

A Recent Case Study from India

Just a few days ago, the Indian government reduced the tariff on imported gold from $424 US to $408 US for 10 grams of gold. It also cut the import tariff on silver from $650 US to $617 US per kilogram. Interestingly, gold is the second most important import to India, second only to petroleum. The growth of the middle class in India has created rising demand for gold jewelry.

Bear in mind that changes in overseas markets can affect prices in America too. In our global economy, what happens in one country affects prices and consumer behavior in other countries too.

Those effects can be quite complicated. If tariffs on gold imports in India fall, for example, that can trigger new buying in that country and cause a ripple effect in other countries. For example, if India suddenly wants to buy all the gold it can on the international market, that can cause per-ounce prices in America to rise.

What Is the Best Time to Sell or Buy Precious Metals?

If you have quantities of precious metals – silver, gold, palladium, cadmium - that question is the most important one that you should be asking. Be sure to visit our home page to know, on a day-to-day basis, the current values of the metals you have.

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Is it Worth Recycling Smartphones?

How much precious metal is contained in smartphones? Is it worth sending them to us for recycling?

These recent statistics, reported by Megan Anderle in The Guardian on May 1, 2014, document the fact that smartphones contain quantities of precious metals. For every million smartphones that are recycled, these quantities of metals can be reclaimed:

Photo of old smartphones that contain gold, silver and palladium that can be recycled profitably in large quantities by Specialty Metals.

When you use those statistics as a guideline against current prices per troy ounce, you find that every smartphone contains about $1.40 worth of gold, about $.58 worth of palladium, and about $.20 worth of silver. (Of course, it costs money to reclaim those metals from smartphones and other electronics scrap too.)

How Many Smartphones Can You Collect and Recycle?

That’s not very much metal per phone. Yet Anderle also cites these statistics:

  • 89% of mobile devices are not recycled by their users, just tossed
  • In 2012, Sprint customers recycled 44% of their phones, Verizon customers recycled 28%, and AT&T customers recycled 11.5%
  • In 2013, Verizon launched a new recycling program and app that got 31% of its customers to recycle their phones

Is There an Opportunity for You in Smartphone Recycling?

If you would like to reclaim a significant amount of money from old smartphones, you will have to collect an awful lot of them. But can you do just that – collect a large number of older phones? Perhaps you can.

  • If you are a charity, perhaps you can start an outreach program to get people to donate their phones to you. As noted in the statistics above, 89% of mobile phone users toss their devices. Perhaps they can toss them into recycling bins that your organization places in stores, malls, before town halls, and elsewhere. If you spread your campaign over a large geographical area, you could be able to collect enough phones to raise a lot of money for your organization.
  • If you want to start a second or primary business, you might consider buying used cellphones and then recycling them. As Anderle notes in her Guardian article, cellphone companies’ buy-back recycling programs often present a number of hassles for customers, who have typically had to get their returns pre-approved, then print out labels to use when shipping their phones in, then wait weeks until the payment for their phones is credited to their accounts. If you can streamline that process – perhaps by letting customers sell you their used phones via a walk-in, no-hassle process – you might be able to amass enough smartphones to generate a good income.

When and if you do, contact Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. We’ll be pleased to help you dig out the dollars that are hiding in a quantity of used cellphones and other escrap.

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Recycling Silver Cadmium Oxide Scrap

When you think about recycling precious metals, you probably think first about gold, silver, and platinum. That’s good thinking. If you have items that contain those metals, you could be sitting on a lot of money.

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

But have you also stopped to ask whether the items you have on hand contain quantities of silver cadmium oxide? It is often overlooked – it is easy to overlook – but it can contain quantities of silver and cadmium that are quite valuable.

Where Can You Find Cadmium Silver Oxide?

Short answer. If you own almost any kind of electronic scrap, you probably own quantities of silver cadmium oxide. It is widely used in motors, switches, relays, and electrical contacts.

Why is Silver Cadmium Used in Electronic Devices?

Silver cadmium oxide is used because it possesses two seemingly contradictory positive traits. First, it is a very good conductor of electricity. Second, it is arc-resistant (it inhibits the tendency of electricity to arc between contacts when they are open). Those two traits make it an ideal material for use in switches and other applications, especially where high electrical loads are present.

What Will My Scrap Look Like?

Silver cadmium oxide can be found in old electrical-powered manufacturing equipment like motors, switches, relays, and brazed contact assemblies. But it is also found in materials that are used to manufacture those items – materials like silver-cadmium oxide wire, sheets, strips and tapes.

How Much Cadmium Is in My Scrap?

The answer is, it depends. Silver cadmium oxide contacts generally contain between 10% and 25% cadmium. How can you tell what you have? Send us a sample of what you have for testing. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Three Trends that Will Keep Demand for Precious Metals High

In a famous moment in the movie “The Graduate,” an annoying man named Mr. McGuire says to a young college graduate named Benjamin, “I just want to say one word to you . . . just one word . . . are you listening . . . plastics.”

McGuire was telling Benjamin to make his career in plastics. Plastics, the material of the future. But McGuire wasn’t entirely right. Although the use of plastics has boomed since that movie was released in 1967, plastics haven’t replaced metal, for several reasons. Metals conduct electricity, and plastics do not. Plastics can be corroded by harsh chemicals, and many metals cannot. Plastics are not hard enough to serve as parts in many machines where metals perform beautifully.

And advanced as plastics may be, they are not about to replace precious metals in the technologies that we’re going to take a look at in today’s post.

Photo of workers replacing old solar panels, which contain more silver, with newer ones. Don’t miss the opportunity to recycle them profitably with Specialty Metals.

Silver Trend: The Boom in Solar Panels

Have you noticed that a boom is happening in the use of solar panels? It seems that wherever you travel, you see new installations on roofs and in open fields. While it is true that thin-film solar are becoming more and more popular than the older thick-film models that used more silver, the demand for silver will remain strong because of the sheer number of thin-film panels that are being installed. See our earlier post, Replacing Your Old Solar Panels? Don’t Throw Away Valuable Silver Too, to learn more.

Physicians insert a platinum EP catheter into a blood vessel that leads to the patient’s heart.

Platinum Trend: High Demand in Medical Applications

Platinum is finding more and more uses in medicine. It’s being used throughout modern medical devices in hospitals, in implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), devices that monitor or regulate brain functions, neurovascular devices, stents, and pacemakers. Remember, platinum is rare in nature. According to some estimates only about 16 tons of it have been mined in all of history. That means that demand for the recyclable platinum scrap that you have is sure to remain high.

Palladium Trend: High Demand in Catalytic Converters

Photo of catalytic converter containing platinum, palladium and rhodium which can be recycled and refined for best prices at Specialty Metals.

Palladium is also rare in nature, found almost entirely in Canada, Russia and South Africa. Yet it is widely used in catalytic converters. And as you know, the demand for automobile and industrial catalytic converters is not going to diminish anytime soon. That scarcity, coupled with high demand, means that collecting and recycling catalytic converters will remain a profitable activity – and a viable business – in the years and decades ahead.

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How To Recycle Your Old Silver Recovery Columns

If you’re already using silver recovery columns in your production processes, you know what they are and what they do – they extract the silver from liquids and return it to you as a metal that you can sell or recycle.

You might not know, however, that silver recovery columns are used in a lot of industries, including . . .

Photo of used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Photo of used silver recovery columns sent to Specialty Metals for the profitable extraction and recycling of the electrolytic silver flake residue they still contain.

Recycling the Recycler

Even if you are in an industry that uses silver recovery columns, here’s an interesting fact. When they have outlived their effective life in your operations, the recycling columns themselves can be recycled. In effect, you’ll be recycling your recycling device. You will be pleased to know that these devices themselves, once they have outlived their life as recycling devices, still contain valuable quantities of electrolytic silver flake.

We know this is the case because here at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, we recycle hundreds, if not thousands, of recovery columns every year. As America's best silver refiners, we have the knowledge, skills, and technology in place to extract every valuable ounce of silver from your used units. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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On Earth Day, Let’s Agree to Recycle Metals Responsibly

When you think about handling and recycling metals responsibly, chances are that you think about environmental laws. If you’re complying with all federal and state laws regarding disposal of materials, then you’ve got your bases covered, right?

This Earth Day, Specialty Metals wants to remind you to recycle your precious metals like silver cadmium responsibly.

Well, not completely. Obeying laws is wonderful, but we need to be vigilant, not merely compliant, to be sure we are not doing environmental damage.

Silver Cadmium: A Case in Point

Silver cadmium is an alloy that is widely used in welding and in the fabrication of electrical components. It conducts electricity well, but its greatest value resides in its usefulness in brazing. When silver and cadmium are combined to make brazing rods, the result is a product that has a relatively low melting point, making it easy to work with.

The problem? When silver cadmium materials are used in brazing, they release noxious gases that can put your employees’ health in jeopardy. Whether you’ve got robotic operations taking place or your employees are doing the brazing at close range, they’re in danger unless your facilities are not just adequately, but aggressively ventilated. Adhering to environmental laws is a good baseline but if you really want to protect people, you’ve got to go above and beyond to make sure they are safe.

Recycling Silver Cadmium Responsibly

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Then we come to the issue of recycling silver cadmium. It is a big concern. When you send your unused quantities of silver cadmium to be recycled and refined – those unused ends of welding rods and wire, electrical contacts or silver cadmium strips or powder, depending on your industry – you want to be sure that they will be recycled responsibly. When those materials are smelted and refined, they again release poisonous gases that can harm people and the environment too.

Many precious metals recycling companies will accept silver cadmium for refining and recycling. But before you use their services, we’d like you to be aware that Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, the best secondary refiner of precious metals in the US, is one of the very few refiners in the world that is fully equipped to recycle silver cadmium scrap safely and responsibly.

Earth Day is a good time for all of us who work with metals to renew our commitment to the environment. We’ve made a lot of progress in improving the quality of our air, water, and soil. Future generations are counting on us to keep up the good environmental fight today.

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Old Kodak Report Tells You How Much Silver Is in Your Photographic Films and Papers

Do you own a photo processing lab with inventories of new and developed film, photographic paper, and developing chemicals?  

Those supplies contain silver that can be extracted and refined. How much silver? We just discovered a very useful report that can help you know.

A Fascinating Older Report from Kodak

Can you spot the silver in this photo of a photographer processing film and making prints? It’s everywhere: in the paper, the chemicals, and the film, and Specialty Metals can help you recycle it all profitably.

Can you spot the silver in this photo of a photographer processing film and making prints? It’s everywhere: in the paper, the chemicals, and the film, and Specialty Metals can help you recycle it all profitably.

Back in 1998, Kodak published a report entitled “Sources of Silver in Photographic Processing Facilities.” (Click here to download the PDF.) It dates from the time before digital photography became the preferred way of taking pictures, but it still contains useful guidelines about sources of silver in photo labs. It was intended to help high-volume photo labs – labs that were developing thousands of rolls of film a day – determine how much money they could recoup by recycling their materials.

The report still offers some great insights on extracting silver from film and other photographic materials. Here are some highlights . . .

  • Photographic papers and films are the biggest source of silver in photo labs.
  • Used photo-processing chemicals – the solutions that are used to develop film – also contain quantities of silver that can be recycled. It’s because those solutions remove quantities of silver from the films they are processing. That silver remains in the used solutions and can be extracted.
  • The tape that is used to splice photographic films contains silver too. The Kodak report states that this source of silver is “often overlooked.”
  • Different kinds of films contain different quantities of silver. The Kodak report states that 1,000 square feet of Kodak Gold Film contain four troy ounces of silver, for example, while 1,000 square feet of Kodak Royal Gold 400 film (a “faster” film with a higher ISO rating) contain only 1.1 troy ounces of silver. It takes a lot of rolls of 35mm film to make up 1,000 square feet; however, the report contains useful tables that help you calculate how many square feet of film can be found in films of different formats and sizes.

Silver is Used in Digital Processing Too

If you’re in the business of processing photos, think “silver.” Even in this age of digital photography, that metal is an integral part of printing photos. Valuable quantities of electrolytic silver flake could result. Also, recycling your used and unused chemicals and  papers to extract the silver that they contain could be a profitable activity for you.

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If You Use a Metal Detector, You Should Keep Our Number Handy

Do you use a metal detector? Are you thinking about buying one?

If you’re not involved in the hobby, perhaps you should be. And if you do start detecting, keep our number handy - 800-426-2344 - because lots of hobbyists are pulling valuable quantities of silver and gold out of the ground. Once they find precious metals, they need a top precious metals refinery like us to tell them just what they have.

Shown: hobbyist with a metal detector searching for gold, silver and other precious metals which Specialty Metals can refine and recycle.

Success Stories!

If you’d like to read about some finds that detector hobbyists are making, visit MineLab.com and read the success stories you will find there.

A lot of the studies are fun to read. But if you’d like an even more vivid example of the kind of finds that are being made by hobbyists, here’s a video to watch. It shows hobbyists who are extracting what appears to be a one-ounce gold nugget from the ground in an abandoned gold mine in California. (They need to call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to be certain about what it is.) If you’d like to see the moment that the find is made, it occurs at about the 9:40 timing point in the video. (Please be aware that when these guys find the nugget, they get so excited that they start to use a lot of swearwords – “Holy XXXX!” So if you want to keep your watching PG-rated, turn the volume down.)

And if watching this video inspires you to go hunting for gold, please keep us in mind for smelting and refining any gold you do dig up.

How to Get Top Dollar for Your Coin Collection

Did you just inherit a collection of rare coins? If so, congratulations. You could have a very valuable asset in your possession, especially if the collection includes real silver coins.

The problem is, you can run into a lot of pitfalls – not to mention dishonest people – when you try to determine what the collection is worth. Especially if your coins contain precious metal like silver or gold. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Photo of silver coins that Specialty Metals can recycle and refine for your company.

Don’t Go to a Coin Dealer and Accept His or Her Offer for Your Coins

If you do, you could accept a low-ball offer, or a dishonest one. Instead, have a qualified rare-coin appraiser look at your collection. You can find one through the American Society of Appraisers at 800-ASA-VALU or through the American Numismatic Society at 212-571-4470. The appraiser should not be a dealer – that’s a conflict of interest – and if he or she offers to buy your collection or several coins from it, you should consider that a “red flag” and seek advice elsewhere.

After Having Your Collection Appraised, Make Some Decisions

Once you have an expert, impartial opinion of what your collection is worth, you are in a position to make some smart choices.

  • If you have some coins that are especially valuable, i.e., $500, $1,000 or more, consider selling them through a well-respected auction gallery like Sotheby’s in New York, at 212-606-7000. When you speak with auction houses, ask about the prices they have gotten for similar coins that they have auctioned in the past.
  • If you have some less valuable coins that should command prices in the range of $20 to $100 or a little more, you can take them to a coin dealer and see whether he or she makes you an honest offer for them. You can also look for similar coins on eBay, review their selling prices, and sell your coins there.
  • If you have coins that are relatively low in value – most often, these are coins that have low collectible value but which still contain quantities of silver – consider sending them to a qualified silver refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners so you can get paid for the silver that they contain. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Replacing Your Old Solar Panels? Don’t Throw Away Valuable Silver Too

Photovoltaic solar panels that generate electricity might seem like a new technology. But the fact is, they have been in widespread use for more than a decade now. Whether you’re a business that installed solar panels to lower your energy costs, a company that manufactures solar panels, or even a homeowner that jumped on the solar bandwagon early, If you’re replacing your old solar system with a new one, don’t toss your old panels away or – worse – let your installer take your old panels away.

They could contain valuable quantities of silver that you can recycle. Here’s what you need to know.

Photo of workers replacing old solar panels, which contain more silver, with newer ones. Don’t miss the opportunity to recycle them profitably with Specialty Metals.

Thin-Film Panels

Many newer inexpensive panels are “thin-film” models that contain very thin layers of cadmium telluride, not silver. Interestingly, they are not very efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, but their lower cost appeals to many buyers. The cadmium telluride that they contain has usually been applied by using sputtering targets, which we have discussed often on this blog in the past.

Thick-Film Panels

More expensive new panels, and almost all older ones, use “thick-film” technology. In other words, they contain relatively thicker layers of silver. These panels are more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, but their cost is higher.

How Much Silver Could Your Thick-Film Solar Panels Contain?

It depends, but a used thick-film solar panel could contain as many as 13 troy ounces of silver. With current silver prices hovering at about $20 per troy ounce, the silver in each of your panels could be worth as much as $160. The trick is to speak with Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, America’s leading silver refinery, to learn more. If you give us a call at 800-426-2344, we’ll be pleased to explain how you can convert those flat solar panels into cold, hard cash.

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Why It Pays to Have Mining Ores Analyzed for Precious Metals

If you’re with a mining company that extracts just about anything from the earth – coal, zinc, gypsum - it can be a very good idea to send us samples of your ores or other mined substances. We can analyze them and let you know whether they contain silver, gold or other precious metals that can be profitably extracted, smelted, and refined.

Looking for Secondary Precious Metals: A Case Study

Shown: mining concentrates which could contain silver, gold and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: mining concentrates which could contain silver, gold and other precious metals which could be extracted, processed and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Hudbay Minerals operates two large mines in northern Ontario, Canada: the 777 Mine and the Trout Lake Mine. Both mines extract primarily copper and zinc, but Hudbay is always careful to profit from quantities of silver and gold that can be found in its ores.

According to company data, Hudbay retrieved 91,258 ounces of silver and gold from its mining operations in 2013. That’s a small quantity in comparison to the amount of copper (about 30,000 tons) and zinc (about 87,000 tons) that come out of Hudbay’s mines. But with gold and silver prices high, Hudbay is not about to let precious metals and precious dollars slip away.

You shouldn’t either. If your business deals with ores – either ores that you mine or acquire from other sources for processing – you should find out whether they contain secondary quantities of silver or gold. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and we’ll be pleased to tell you how it works.

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An Invitation to Jewelers, Pawnbrokers and Other Jewelry Professionals to Partner with Our Precious Metals Refinery

If you’re in a business that has given you a quantity of silver, platinum, or gold-containing items – like old cutlery, silverware, rings, watches – you definitely have precious metals that are worth refining. The problem is, it’s hard to understand just how much precious metal those items contain. And the more different items you have, the more confusing it becomes.

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum, gold, silver and other platinum group metals that Specialty Metals recycles and refines.
  • Older silver-plate, for example, can contain larger quantities of silver than more modern plated flatware and tableware do. But how can you know how much silver is really in your silverware or whether it is worth recycling?
  • Items of gold jewelry from other countries are often not stamped with standard karat numbers. Sometimes there are no numbers at all. What should you be looking for?
  • Older platinum jewelry sometimes has no markings to indicate how pure the platinum is. (Newer platinum jewelry is usually stamped with a marking like “950 Plat,” which means that the platinum is 95% pure.)

Avoid the Confusion

Often, the only way to cut through the confusion is to send your items to a qualified precious metals refinery that can analyze them and tell you precisely what you have. Why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to talk things over? Even if you have a mixed collection of items, we can help you understand just what they are – and then help you get top dollar for the precious metals they contain.

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