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How to Recycle a Vacuum Tube

by Guy Gardner

A vacuum tube is a bulb or tube that acts as a barrier to outside gases and contains a vacuum. Depending on the kind of tube, it can change or amplify electric currents that pass through it. Though less commonly used today, vacuum were used in everything from televisions and radios to amplifiers and hearing aids.

Vacuum tubes contain harmful elements such as heavy metals in their filaments. Therefore, you cannot throw them into the garbage like normal household waste. Like most electronic waste, they require careful consideration.

Step 1

Contact the Tube Collectors Association (TCA), a group of "collector-historians" specializing in the collection and categorization of vacuum tubes, both recent and antique (Ibid). Its website maintains a list of wanted vacuum tubes and tubes for sale. Consult the list to see whether you have a sought-after type of tube. Post a listing for your tube, offering it for sale or for free.

Step 2

Contact the Global Electronics Recycling Network. This group maintains a network of electronic recycling organizations in many countries. Use its website to locate an electronics recycling organization near your home; you can find out the drop-off location and the cost of disposing of your vacuum tubes.

Make jewelry or decorations with your vacuum tubes. Many tubes have wires protruding from them; fit these wires through a metal jump ring, then tie a band or string around the ring. The tube can then become a pendant, Christmas ornament or other decoration.

Warning

  • Avoid breaking the tubes, as the filaments inside them contain hazardous material.

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