Silver is a has long been prized after as an attractive material for crafting jewelry, decorative objects and functional items like tableware, holloware and flatware. The metal is also extensively employed in photographic processing and in pharmaceutical compounds, and its light weight, superior conductive qualities and resistance to corrosion make it an excellent choice as a contact surface material in electrical and electronic components.
Much of the industrial silver currently used is being recycled from scrap silver. Because the quantities of silver that are mined and refined each year are insufficient to meet industrial demands, there is a thriving market in the collection of silver for reuse. Used batteries, old x-ray films and discarded printed circuit boards contain silver in sufficient quantities to make recovering the metal a commercial proposition for those who have access to sources of free scrap. Discarded industrial machinery and distribution bus bars are a good source of scrap silver electrical contacts, and people working in the demolition or industrial electrical trades can often collect enough silver scrap to add significantly to their income.
Although it is possible to separate silver contacts from the underlying alloy by heating, since silver has a much higher melting point than the base metal, most of the people who collect silver contacts as a sideline do not have the experience or equipment to use the heat treatment method. A little research will identify where to sell silver for recovery and recycling and which scrap merchants offer the best deals.
The market price of scrap silver is quite volatile because, although the demand for industrial silver is currently steady, fresh discoveries of silver deposits and opening of new silver refineries increase the supply of the metal and cause the value of scrap silver to drop. Anyone who is considering collecting scrap silver for recycling would be advised to follow market trends so as to be sure of selling at the most favourable time.