The average cost of steel was around $0.42 per pound in 2022 and experts believe prices could increase in 2023. That’s an amount that adds up quickly and one that might not fit the budget of a small business.
If you plan to use different types of metal as building materials, you’ll want to find the best price possible. But finding the cheapest metal isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to steel and iron.
The following guide will cover tips on how to get the best deal on metal and where to look.
Before looking anywhere else, check and see what metal you already have laying around. If you’re looking for metal for welding projects, this is one of the best ways to save money.
Think outside the box and consider things like old bicycles, fence posts, and leftover wire fencing. You’d be surprised how much metal you already have at your disposal, and it’s beyond cheap because it’s free!
Next, visit a scrap yard to see what they have and if it fits your project. Scrap yards consist of metal items that people considered junk and got rid of. Of course, this includes common metals, you won’t find deals for Zero Valent Iron at the scrap yard.
The scrap yard sorts through the metal and they look for anything of value and anything they can recycle. Not all scrap yards resell to the public, but the ones that do usually offer extremely low prices.
Don’t forget to check local businesses such as welding shops for leftover scraps. They usually consider their scraps junk that needs to get removed, so there’s a chance they give it to you for free.
Some sell their scrap for “scrap pricing”, which is still extremely low. Most businesses would be delighted just to have someone take their scraps away for free. Weld shops often scrap laying around from the leftover rod, flat, and pipe.
Purchase Low Melting Point Metals
Pure forms of metal often have extremely expensive prices, so look for alloy metals with low melting points instead. These alloy metals tend to be mixtures of indium, bismuth, tin, or cadmium.
Low melting point metals only expand slightly when they change to solids from liquids. Because of this, these metals work very well for several types of industrial purposes.
Examples of uses include tube bending, fixtures, casting, and machine part replacement. You can purchase alloys with low melt points as weighed ingots and as branded.
Look For Metal Bars
If possible, look for metal in the form of bars to buy. Bars commonly come in squares, but you might also come across round bar stocks for purchase as well.
Metal bars get sold and priced based on their weight and they’re the least expensive type of metal to purchase. The low price has to do with how easy they are to transport and how they don’t have any added value to them.
So, you can buy metal bars for a bargain compared to forms like plates, sheets, and tubes. Just keep in mind that you might have to pay extra to have the bars melted if you need them for industrial processes.
You won’t find metal material for sale on Amazon, but auction sites like eBay tend to have several types and forms to choose from. eBay auctions allow you to bid on things like hard metals, construction boards, scrap metals, fusible alloys, and precious metals.
Some online auctions have listings for overstock of structural metal. Because you’re working against other bidders, it’s hard to say what the final price could be, but expect it to be much lower than average.
You can even do a search for online shops that sell and ship metal. Searching online makes it easy to compare metal prices from different shops side by side to get the best deal possible.
Facebook can also be a source of cheap or even free metal material if you keep your eyes peeled. Join a community swap and shop and keep your eyes peeled for people selling and scrapping metal.
Craigslist is also a great place to find deals on metal material. It’s not uncommon to find free scrap as long as you agree to come pick it up and haul it away.
If you’re looking for steel, you could try to find a secondary provider to buy it from. Secondary providers are businesses that sell the rejected metal material made by the mill.
Businesses often reject metal material because of slight imperfections that don’t meet their standards. But the rejected metal can still work wonders for others looking for a deal. It’s more affordable than primary steel but it works just as well for many projects.
For example, farm owners might buy from secondary providers to create cattle gates with the rejected metal. Usually, there’s enough on hand to buy entire bundles from secondary sellers.
If you don’t mind a few imperfections in the metal, start searching for secondary dealers in your area such as welding shops. Just note that not every welding shop sells or advertises secondary metal, so you might have to call around to a few different places.
Buy Lighter Metal Material
Many businesses buy lighter metals to help cut costs. If you go this route, make sure the lighter metal can still hold up to whatever project you have planned. Metal sells by the pound, so can save a bundle if you have flexibility with the weight you need.
Building a cooking grate for a fire pit is an example of a project with room to change metal weight slightly. Basically, it’s easy to go down in weight as long as the metal you need doesn’t have to be structurally sound, like ramps for vehicles.
Finding the Cheapest Metal
Now you have several ideas for finding the cheapest metal for different projects and processes. Remember, lightweight metal, metal bars, and secondary metal can help you bring down expenses.
Look for scrap everywhere from your own home to online, and don’t hesitate to take a field trip to the local scrap yard! Check out our blog’s finance and business sections for more cost-saving tips to use.