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What would you do with a ton of very rusty metal? Answered

My place of work backs onto the beach in Portsmouth harbour (UK) - the shore is littered with many pieces of very rusty metal - mostly big bolts, rods, nuts, huge washers etc - from the engineering works that used to be here, but there are also bits of old hardware that look like they came from some of the derelict barges that lie rotting in the estuary mud.

It's all in pieces small enough to pick up, and there's a ton of it. Some is so rusty that it's all rust, but most is merely heavily corroded/encrusted.

There's got to be something interesting that can be done with all this material, but... what?


tetanus is no laughing matter mr.=smart=ypants. os this your idea of a some kind of a sick joke?

no you would get it if u stuck sharp rusty implements into your blood stream

oh please. tetanus schmetanus. p.s. by the way. the previous comment was sarcasm...

Actually even the direct antibody injections suck, I had to get a massive does after a tree branch lodged itself in my arm, makes you sick as a dog for a couple of weeks...

Put it in a vinegar solution, wait a few days for the rust to come off, then I take it, melt it down, make a few bars of mixed metal (I'll assume it's iron though) and sell it. :) money.

Well, since you've got so much rust you could have some serious thermite fun. Scrape it off, do the thermite thing, sell the non-rusted part as scrap.

Weld it together and call it art. then sell it for thousands

Just yesterday, I went for a walk downtown. There I saw a 'sculpture' that was indeed nothing but various pieces of rusty metal rings, sheets, screen all stuck together by some famous local artist. I wonder how much of my tax money went for it? It really annoys me because I would have made them the same thing for free. I have been accumulating copper and brass pipe and old plumbing parts to do the same thing myself. Wonder if I can sell mine to the city?

The city of Denver sure loves to pay for tacky "art".

Rusty iron is one thing - but copper and brass can be worth a pretty penny!

Have a look at TimAnderson's Get Big Money for Dead Batteries post. That one is focusing on lead batteries, but the same applies for other metal recycling as well.

One resource Tim mentioned is recycle.net, where you can look up going market prices for various recyclables. For example, copper pipe scrap goes for an average of $2.38/lb at the moment.

If what you have is far too nice to recycle as scrap, you may be able to find someplace that recycles building materials. These places tend to focus on visual elements though - claw foot tubs, antique door knockers, old lumber, cast-iron radiators, etc. Don't know if there's much of a market in second-hand plumbing parts.

If you *can* find an artist or tinkerer interested in your parts, great! But I wouldn't expect to make much money off it, if that is your intention.

My friend made $70 just for 3 bags of pop cans. He made around 300 for 60lbs of copper!

Thanks for the tips. I'm the artist :-). That's why I've been scavenging and collecting. My neighbor is a plumber and used to let me have almost anything I wanted from his scrap bin, but these days it's worth too much, just as you said.


10 years ago

Develop a line of funny monster characters with hexagonal heads and corkscrew bodies. Use rustoleum paint to prime the iron and then paint and dress them up. You can glue on wire for hair. Give them arms with small garden tools (hand rakes would be a favorite). Sell them at craft fairs and on eBay as garden gnomes. Post pictures. :-)

I'd get all the usable stuff and melt it down, use the rust for thermite and some other stuff... You'll find stuff that will have survived well and may be of use but finding it is hard in estuary mud...

Actually I'd make thermite with all the rust and use that to melt the steel in a big pot of thermite... the rust would be nicely removed the steel would be decent and I'd be left with a big thing of steel to mess with or sell. As scrap mixed steel is of little value, car rims are around £90/tonne as the steel is pretty pure, alloys are worth alot but hard to aquire... one massive cast of steel maybe worth some money...

With the amount of aluminum that thermite burns off, I suspect that you would be much better off just recycling the aluminum : )

A cupola, on the other hand...probably wouldn't be allowed because of the CO2 pumped into the air : (

That was more just a crazy joke idea but if someone had a bunch of scrap and some spare time...

Make i giant machine that gives people tetnis, or you could make an artwork.....


Build it where it is, on the beach. Weld the smaller bits in place, and then sit back and let the artistic public watch it rust away.

Oh, the transitory nature of art.

I'd really love to do that. I don't have welding equipment though, and I think much of the material is too heavily corroded to be suitable for welding. Maybe I should pile it up - like a sort of cairn, but made out of rusting metal.


10 years ago

Dye a shirt

. Don't know if it would be a problem or not, but there may be a lot of chloride contamination (eg, FeCl2 and FeCl3), which might affect your thermite.

Prepare for the onslaught of Thermite fans.

hmm, I think I'll have to look thermite up! I don't know anything about it! :o

Yeah, there's plenty of crumbly rust that could probably be pounded to dust to make thermit. I don't have the space to be able to tinker with that stuff - I'd love to do it though.