It is not only metal filings that can be sent to a metal refiner to be liquidated and reclaimed. Accumulated bits of metal that may or may not be visible such as metal dust in the fibers of textiles is worth harnessing for reclamation as well. To maximise metal reclamation, use a bench skin under your workbench and a sediment tank.
This is another important workshop tool. These are made to fit under sinks where you wash your hands in the studio to catch metals that may not be seen. You should empty your ultrasonic cleaner, pinning machines and barrels through this for metal reclamation. Clean your settlement tank annually and send the collected metals to be reclaimed. These can be either purchased or made with a 5-gallon container that will fit under your sink.
Hoover & Strong DIY settlement tank
Mastermelt Reclamation tips
You can also reclaim metals from waste materials. Collect sandpaper, floor sweepings, baby wipes (if you work with silver clay), paper towels, rags, vacuum bags and any other cleaning materials as these accumulate traces of metal.
If you have carpets or floor mats, vacuum these frequently, separated from other vacuum use and save the vacuum bags for reclamation. A vacuum with varying removable heads is useful. Vacuum your studio often, as metal dust that has fallen on the floor can easily be walked out of the studio. To prevent metal particles going down the drain, use a wet paper towel or cloth to wash your hands before washing at the sink and save these.
Encourage customers to send you their old or unused jewellery to be refined and made into a new product. Hoover & Strong offer an estimation chart to calculate how much you should offer for old jewellery.
Establish clearly designated metal and scrap bins near your workbench. Keep your ‘to be reclaimed waste’ in bags and save them up for one larger reclaim. It is more worthwhile to send in a large amount all at once to offset the cost of sending. Note that Iron in your scrap may lower the amount returned as it has a high melting point so is more difficult to melt and assay. Remove any iron from your scrap with a magnet to avoid this. You can also bring collected copper, brass, bronze, aluminium and steel waste to a recycling centre once a year.
Adopting a committed reclamation system as part of your practice is efficient, economical and contributes to a more environmentally sound practice. Collecting metal scrap for reclamation increases the cleanliness of your work space, decreases metal particles you are at risk of breathing in and provides a profit for your business. General metal reclamation is simple but saving waste for reclamation additionally, will reduce refining costs and give a higher return.
Where to send metal scrap
- UK recycling database for information and recycling points in the UK
- RecycleNow for where and how to recycle specific items based on your postcode
- GOV.UK/Recycling Collections to find out what recycling options there are in your area
- Freegle or Freecycle for giving away unwanted items or finding free items
- The Library of Things is a London based borrowing library of various things
- The Edinburgh Tool Library is the UK’s first tool borrowing library
- Zero Waste Scotland for resources and information on Scotland’s resource economy
- The Edinburgh Remakery is a Reuse and Repair Hub in Edinburgh
Image Credit: VIPA Designs