While it might seem like scrap metal recycling involves simply driving around, picking up metal, and delivering it to the scrap yard, in order to scrap safely, smartly, and efficiently you need to have all of the right equipment to help you identify and clean your metals.
Obviously, working with scrap metal every day lends itself to injuries. It is important to wear leather work gloves when handling scrap metal to avoid cuts and slivers. Long pants and long sleeve shirts will also protect you from unnecessary cuts and scrapes. Wearing eye protection is highly recommended as it only takes on mistake with scrap metal to permanently damage your vision. Boots with good soles are a must because where there is scrap metal, there is typically nails, screws, and sharp metal fragments on the ground. Wearing a hard hat never hurts, both while collecting scrap and unloading it at the scrapyard.
There are several tools that will help you identify metals, but none is more important than a magnet. Checking if material draws a magnet is the first test you should always perform. If the material draws your magnet it is ferrous material, and if not you have likely stumbled upon something more valuable. Having a file handy can also help you identify material that is coated or plated. For example, filing the coating off of silver plated flatware will reveal the metal underneath, and then by looking at the color you can determine if the material is brass or copper.
The tools for cleaning material are present in just about every toolbox. Hammers, drills, knives, ratchets, and crowbars will all help you break pieces down and remove any contamination. Wire cutters are useful for removing cords from appliances and other items, and a wire stripper will come in handy if you have the time to strip the insulation off. Bolt cutters are useful to cut copper tubing out of appliances, and to cut brass valves off of copper plumbing.