Thursday, September 19, 2013

What to Do, What to Do

A question was recently proposed to me, "What can I do with unwanted fired metal clay items?"
So, you have fired (sintered) a metal clay piece and you have decided you don't like it, don't want it, it’s ugly, it’s broken and unfixable, and so forth. What do you do with it?

There are many options to choose from. I will these discuss one today and the others in my next post.

Send the Metal to a Refiner

This option is for fine sliver, sterling silver, and gold scraps. Most base metals including bronze and copper, have little value for a refining company, so you will need to use one of the other options for reclaiming this metal. 
Review these questions before choosing a refining company.

  • What type of material do they accept?
  • What is their required minimum weight for the metal you are refining?   
  • Do they offer free secured shipping?
  • Is there a local office you can visit?
  • How much do they charge, or take off the top from your return?
  • What are their settlement options?
  • Are they well known in the refining industry?
Many refiners accept more than solid scrap including  bench dust (called sweeps*), floor sweeps, carpet, buffing wheels, tools like grinding stones or sandpaper with precious metal embedded in them. There are several places that have no minimum weight restrictions,but you'll have to search for them.

Most large refining companies offer free shipping. They will send you a shipping label and some will also send a container for you to ship in. The shipping is usually through a well-known shipping company that uses tracking numbers. This way, you can keep track of your shipment. Most companies will email or call to let you know they received your shipment. It’s really nice when a refiner has a receiving office in your town or city. This way you can physically drop off your material and watch them weigh it.

It’s a given, you want the most return for your metal. Shop around and find the best price.  In most cases you must call for a quote.

Settlement options are the options you can choose for reimbursement for your metal.  Here are a few and a description of what they are.
  • Check – they issue a check in your name.
  • Wire Transfer – they send money to your bank account. This is a fast option if you don’t want to wait for a check. Make sure your bank doesn’t charge a fee for this!
  • Gold Returned to You – this is usually only for refining gold. Gold sent in is returned as pure gold for you to alloy and use as casting grain.
  • Products – a true refinery company issues metal products like silver wire, sheet, solder, and etc in exchange for your refined material. Other places offer merchandise which has a high percent of markup on the product allowing them to make more money from your material. This is great if you were planning on purchasing that merchandise from them in the first place.
  • Pool – this is for the larger metal traders. This option allows you to choose the settlement date (within 24 hours) after your material is processed. There are no additional charges for this option, and you have an unlimited time period available. This allows you to refine your material and continue to have the flexibility of monitoring the gold market and then cashing in when the market is high.
Always choose a certified, well established place to send your scrap metal. Otherwise you may not get what you expect.

*Sweeps are defined as dry, free-flowing, inorganic powders consisting of fine particles, constituent elements and bearing economically significant precious metal elements. 

Until next time have fun claying around.


by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

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