The Life of an Aluminum Can

Almost everybody has taken the time to recycle old soda cans at one point or another, either while you were a kid, or with your kids to make a little additional cash. This makes you think, where have my aluminum cans been before I bought this six pack of coke? Follow the path of one aluminum can to find out where it has been, and where it is going.

The aluminum

Before a can is ever produced the aluminum must be extracted, refined, and then a part of a primary smelting process. If it wasn’t for the recycling process, the price of aluminum would rise considerably, making the price of everything that uses it for packaging such as soda to skyrocket. To prevent this from happening, be sure to recycle your cans. The process from the time you drop off a used can to when it can be reused takes about sixty days.

The cycle

The process as we know it starts after you purchase a can in the store. For anything to happen, you need to be proactive in getting it recycled. This could mean placing it in the recycling bin, or even collecting aluminum cans to be taken into the scrap yard yourself.

From this point the cans are organized, and transported to a smelting facility in mass proportions. The cans are sorted, tested for moisture content and quality, and then sent to be shredded. The shredded pieces of the cans are then sent to be melted down. During this process the cans are heated up to about 1,400 degrees, making a molten metal material.

This liquid is then placed into molds to make ingots. Each of these can weight right around 40,000 pounds. To make this material usable to manufacturers, an aluminum coil is made from this by flattening out the ingot. From here what was once an aluminum can doesn’t necessarily have to become just a can again, but instead can contribute to a number of things including aluminum foil, chair parts, or even car bodies. After this, it can start the process all over again.

Aluminum cans may be melted down to create more cans, or something else that is needed. To learn more about the recycling process, and how to bring in your own soda cans, contact us at Utah Metal Works. We can set you on the right path, and make sure you get the most from your recycled material.

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