Can You Recycle Rusted Metal?

You can recycle rusted metal for many reasons.

It can can be reused as sculpture, such as a charming ornament. It can also serve as decoration, such as a garden sculpture.

So, can you recycle rusted metal?

Yes, you can recycle rusted metal for many purposes.

For example, you can easily convert rusty steel into sculptures or garden ornaments by welding them back together to form something new and beautiful. You can also recycle rusted steel for artistic purposes as wall decorations or as part of a larger sculpture or garden sculpture.

Metals such as steel, iron and aluminum can be recycled and reused in new form for a variety of purposes.

Can You Recycle Rusted Metal?

Yes, when ferrous waste metals are recycled, they are converted into useful products.

Although this procedure will extract the impurities from the metal to give off oxides (rust) in the process; these oxides can be cleaned away with a subsequent cleaning process.

As a result, the price per pound of rusty steel is too low to justify the cost of cleaning away these oxides.

However, metal recycling companies will sometimes buy scrap steel that has some rust on it, but will pay more for it than other steel that has no rust on it yet.

This is because the used steel can be cleaned and processed into usable pieces of scrap steel, while the scrap steel with no rust on it cannot be used for recycling and must be sold as scrap metal to re-melt it down into usable steel again.

What Is Rust?

Rust is a colloquial term for iron oxide.

When iron combines with water and oxygen, it produces rust.

Rust is a colloquial term for the oxidation of ferrous metals (iron or steel) with oxygen in the presence of water and humidity.

It’s not only unattractive, but rust can eat away at metal and render it useless.

Allowing Rust to grow on a metal item for an indeterminate period of time can destroy the metal’s ability to function as intended or to last longer than normal, depending on it’s intended purpose.

Furthermore, Rusting does not occur overnight; depending on the age of the item and the environment in which it resides, it can take months or years for this to happen.

For example, wrought iron that was exposed to moisture in a damp basement for decades may rust quite heavily. Likewise, iron or steel that was exposed to moisture in a damp basement for many years may rust quite heavily when exposed to the elements outside.

Consequently, the rust that has accumulated over the years cannot be removed without removing the item from the environment where it has been rusting for all those years.

What Happens to Metals During the Recycling Process?

Your scrap metal will be weighed upon drop off at a scrap yard or recycling center and then go through a processor that crushes and sorts the scrap metal according to type and weight.

If you agree, your scrap metal will be sorted by facility staff into different grades of metals according to the current market prices per ton for each grade.

In other words, your scrap metal will be weighed again and sorted into different grades of metals based on the current market prices per ton for each grade of metal.

For example, your scrap metal may contain some steel that will be worth more per ton than some other scrap metal that contains more aluminum than steel.

Your scrap metal may also contain some cast iron that is worth more than some steel that is mixed in with your scrap.

The manufacturing plants use these materials to make goods, which means that they will have to buy them from a recycling center or another scrap yard.

Can Rusty Tin Cans Be Recycled?

Whether you’ve forgotten that rusted tin cans can be recycled or you’re wondering whether you’ve accumulated any rusty tin cans, now you know that the answer is usually yes.

A tin can is exactly like any metal can that you may have in your recycling bins or garbage bins.

You may either remove the rust from the can by washing it or leaving it as it is and taking it to a scrap yard for recycling.

Is Rusted Scrap Metal Valuable?

Savvy entrepreneurs know that a scrap metal business can be profitable and a great source of steady income.

Take them to the scrap yard or recycling center that pays the most per pound for the grade of metal that your scrap metal is.

Also, make sure that the facility provides an efficient or expedient drop-off service so that you can continue your business or get on with your daily activities without wasting a lot of your valuable time.

The bad news is that scrap yards usually pay less for your scrap metal than the actual value of the metal itself.

What to Do With Rusted Tin Cans?

Cutlery Holders

Reuse your rusty tin can to make fantastic rustic cutlery holders or garden decorations.

Place them in your kitchen or backyard, use them as napkin holders or fill them with potpourri or faux flowers and place them on coffee tables, kitchen counters.

Measuring Cups

This has to be one clever craft idea that can actually save you a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on buying new measuring spoons and cups.

We’ll be using tin cups that are completely rust-free, however, old galvanized cans can also be used for this project.

As well, we’ll be measuring our meals in tablespoons and teaspoons which can easily be done by using a butter knife to cut the rounded ends off the cans.

Makeshift Lanterns

Don’t worry about going out to purchase those expensive lanterns that just keep on burning two hours after you light them up.

You may just be able to make do with a few tin cans.

This project, however, would require you to punch holes at the top of the cans with nails.

Flower Pots

Savvy gardeners can turn their rusty tin cans into wonderful vases that are perfect for holding flowers.

Your old tin cans can be upcycled into lovely flower containers that will look nothing short of luxurious in your garden or backyard.

Using nothing more than paint, a little imagination, some creativeness and a few tin cans, you can turn your landscape into something wonderful that will remain outside all year long.

The only caveat is that you will need to drill small holes into the cans for drainage before you paint them and plant the flowers and herbs you planned to grow in them.


The tin cans you’re repurposing can be used as containers for coins, office pins, and buttons. Now you won’t have any difficulty finding these items when you need assistance since they’re neatly organized in the cans.

Stationery Holders

We’re guessing it didn’t occur to most people that they can also use these cans as stationery holders.

So now you don’t have to worry about buying expensive stationery organizers when something as simple as a tin can will do.

Of course, you’ll need to remove the bottom of the can before you can use it to organize paper clips, clips for scissors and other office accessories.

Then, using your preferred spray paint, decorate the can however you please and place your pens and pencils on one side of it and paper clips on the other.

How to Restore Rusted Metal to Make It Usable for Recycling

How to Restore Rusted Metal to Make It Usable for Recycling

You may be able to recycle rusted metal depending on the metal itself and just how much rust there is on the metal itself.

The simplest method to accomplish this is to call a reputable scrapyard near you and ask what procedure they would prefer you to follow when bringing in rusted metal for recycling.

However, not all recyclers accept rusty metals, and those that do may require you to remove the rust first.

This is because the metals must then be separated, and removing the rust from the metal makes the process more complicated.

Rusted metals may also need purification, which is another complicated process that adds to the cost of recycling the metals.

Some recyclers may also require that you wash the rusted metal prior to bringing it into the recycling facility prior to weighing it to see how much it is worth per pound.

However, most recyclers will weigh the metal at their own facility and because the facility may be crowded, they may not be able to take the time to physically examine it to see just how rusted the metal is.

Using Rust Removers From the Store

The rust removers available at hardware or home improvement stores may be effective for removing small amounts of rust from metal objects.

These rust removers are easy to use, and they typically contain either phosphoric acid or ammonium phosphate as the main ingredient.

Commercial rust removers are easier to apply to metal surfaces than home-made rust removers.

Homemade rust removers are inexpensive and easy to make, but they require a larger amount of the liquid solution to treat the metal object.

Using Homemade Products

If you do not want to damage your metal object by dipping it into a concentrated solution, you can make your own homemade rust remover by mixing a household ammonia solution of 1 cup of ammonia.

If you don’t have steel wool on hand, towels can do the job just as well since steel wool is abrasive and can scratch the surface of the metal object you are trying to remove rust.

After you’ve performed the scrubbing process, rinse off the metal object with clean running water and dry it with a clean rag or towel.

The disadvantage of homemade substances is that they can be more difficult to apply to metal surfaces than commercial substances.

Also Read: Can You Recycle Silicone?


As you can see, you can recycle rusted metal for many different purposes other than just recycling garbage or waste.

So, the next time you’re cleaning out your garage or looking to get rid of old metal objects, make sure to consider recycling your rusty metal instead of throwing it away as trash or waste.

Metal components that are frequently exposed to the elements will eventually rust over time and need.

Aluminum is also less prone to corrosion than steel because the aluminum oxide coating.

Whether you have a lot of corroded metal to recycle or simply one piece of rusty metal to recycle, you can usually find a recycling center that will be happy to help you out.

Heavy metal such as iron and steel are much harder to recycle than aluminum or copper because of the nature of the materials.

While galvanized metal is resistant to corrosion, it can rust over time in moist, humid conditions.

Scrap metal recycling centers may be willing to purchase your rusty metal if it has solid value as scrap metal.