Where can I destroy a key?

Why You May Want To Destroy A Key

There are several reasons why you may want to intentionally destroy a key rather than just throw it away:

No Longer Need The Key

If you no longer need access to whatever the key unlocks, such as an old house, storage unit, or padlock, destroying the key ensures it cannot be used again. This gives you peace of mind that no one else can gain entry with the key if it ends up in the wrong hands.

Security Reasons

Destroying old keys can be done for security purposes, especially if you don’t know where all copies of the key are. For example, if you need to change the locks after a break-in or domestic situation, cutting up all old keys helps prevent future unauthorized access.

Prevent Future Access

You may want to destroy a key to prevent someone like an ex-partner, disgruntled employee, or previous tenant from being able to access your property in the future if they still have a copy of the key.

Before Selling/Donating an Item

When selling or donating an item like a safe, locker, or vehicle, destroying the associated keys helps prevent future owners from accessing any of your personal belongings still inside.


Methods For Destroying Keys

There are several effective methods for destroying keys beyond use, including:

Cutting Up The Key

One of the simplest ways to destroy a key is to cut it into pieces using bolt cutters or a hacksaw. Cutting across the key head and shaft several times will ensure it cannot be used again (cite: https://www.reddit.com/r/NoStupidQuestions/comments/ec95up/how_could_i_destroy_my_house_key_redundant_beyond/). Just taking a file to one of the key’s grooves can also damage it enough to render it useless.

Hammering The Key

Using a hammer to smash and flatten the key can deform it to the point where it no longer fits the lock. Focus the hammer blows on the head and shaft of the key to bend it out of shape.

Melting The Key

Heating a key with a torch or over a stove will cause it to melt and warp out of shape. Melting at high heat will help ensure the key cannot be repaired or restored to working order.

Drilling Holes In The Key

Using a power drill to bore holes through the key head and shaft can prevent it from properly engaging the lock. For maximum destruction, use a small drill bit to drill overlapping holes across the entire key.

Bending The Key

Pliers can be used to bend and deform the key. Grab the head of the key tightly with pliers and bend it back and forth until it is warped and twisted.

Snapping The Key

Keys can be snapped in half using pliers or by bending them back and forth until they break. Focus pressure on the weakest point of the key to snap it in two.

Cutting Up The Key

One of the quickest and easiest ways to destroy a key is to simply cut it up into pieces using scissors or bolt cutters [1]. The goal is to break the key into small, unrecognizable fragments that cannot be put back together or decoded. Use sturdy scissors or bolt cutters and aim for cutting the key at its thickest part first. This will require less effort than trying to slice through the whole key at once. Cut the key into at least three or four pieces, separating both the blade and the bow (handle) of the key. Further snip these fragments into smaller bits. The smaller the pieces, the better.

Hammering The Key

One simple method for destroying a key is to hammer it flat. This can be an effective approach if you have a heavy hammer and a hard, flat surface on which to place the key.

To hammer a key, first place it on a hard, sturdy surface like a concrete floor or sturdy workbench. Use a heavy hammer, like a sledgehammer, with a large flat surface on one end. Position the key so it lays flat on the surface. Then, raise the hammer up over your shoulder and bring it down forcefully onto the key. The goal is to flatten the key completely in one or two blows.

Hammering bends and deforms the key, damaging the cuts and teeth so it can no longer turn in a lock. Be sure to flatten the entire key so no part of it remains usable. Check to ensure the metal is fully smashed with no intact sections remaining. This should destroy the key beyond repair or replication.

Once hammered, the key pieces can be disposed of in the garbage. Hammering can be a quick and effective way to destroy an unwanted key when the proper tools are available.

Melting The Key

One effective method for destroying a key is to melt it down using high heat. Most keys are made from metals like brass, nickel, or steel which have relatively low melting points compared to other metals. Applying enough heat from an oven, stove, or welding torch can melt a key into an unrecognizable lump.

To melt a key, start by turning your oven or stove burner to its highest heat setting. Use tongs or pliers to hold the key over the heat source. As the key heats up, it will start to soften and change shape. Keep applying heat until the key melts into a pool of liquid metal. This may take several minutes depending on the size of the key and intensity of the heat source.

Welding torches applied directly to a key can melt it almost instantly. The concentrated flame will liquefy the metal in seconds. Safety precautions like fire-resistant gloves and eye protection should be used when working with a welding torch.

Once the key has fully melted, allow the liquid metal to cool and harden before attempting to handle it. The resulting metal blob will be unrecognizable as a key and unable to operate any locks (1). Properly destroying keys helps prevent unauthorized access and improves security.

Drilling Holes In The Key

One effective method for destroying a key is to drill multiple holes into it using a power drill. You’ll want to aim for the head and thickest parts of the key. As noted in the WikiHow article “How to Drill a Lock Out: Fast & Easy Steps,” drilling holes into the key will destroy the internal tumblers and render the key unusable for unlocking anything.

When drilling into a key, it’s best to use a power drill for maximum effectiveness. Use a drill bit that is slightly larger than the shaft of the key. Aim the drill at the head and thickest parts of the key. Drilling into these areas will ensure the key becomes fully unusable. Drill multiple holes to fully penetrate the key head and shaft.As recommended by Practical Betterments, drilling 3-4 holes will help split the key into pieces, making it impossible to use.

The goal is to drill enough holes with a power drill to completely destroy the key. With multiple holes rupturing the head and shaft, the key will no longer be able to activate any locks it was originally cut for.

Bending The Key

One effective method for destroying a key is to bend it until it snaps. You can use a pair of pliers or vice grips to grip the key tightly and bend it back and forth at multiple angles until it breaks apart.

The brass material most keys are made from can be bent with enough applied force. By bending the key repeatedly, you cause metal fatigue that will eventually lead to the key snapping in half.1 Bending the key introduces stress points that compromise the integrity of the metal.

Aim to bend the key at least 90 degrees on the first bend, then bend it back and forth in opposite directions until it snaps. Applying leverage by gripping the key at the far end gives the most bending force. Continue bending past the initial 90 degree mark to put maximum strain on the metal.2 With some determination, you can fully destroy the key’s usability.

The resulting broken pieces of the key will be jagged and sharp. Take appropriate precautions when handling these pieces before disposal.

Snapping The Key

One common method for destroying a key is to snap it in half using a pair of pliers or locking it in a vice and applying force until it breaks. This can be an effective way to quickly disable the key’s ability to open the lock it was made for. The key needs to be grasped firmly in the middle and pressure continuously applied until it snaps in two. It’s important to get a clean break right across the widest part of the key. Uneven breaks or leaving the shaft partially connected could allow the key to still partially work in the lock.

Locksmiths advise gripping the key tightly in locking pliers or a vice and avoiding touching the key directly with your fingers, as the break can cause the metal to fly off rapidly when it separates. Once successfully snapped, the key will no longer be able to fully insert in the lock or engage the locking mechanism. Be sure to dispose of both halves of the key to prevent it being potentially reassembled or copied.[1]

Disposing of Key Pieces

Once you have destroyed the key and separated it into small pieces, you need to dispose of the pieces properly. There are a few recommended methods for disposing of destroyed keys:

Throw pieces in the trash – Small metal pieces from a destroyed key can go in your regular household trash. Make sure the pieces are small enough that they won’t pose any safety issues for waste management workers.

Recycle metal pieces – Many metal recycling centers accept small scrap metal like destroyed keys. Check for a scrap metal recycling bin at your local recycling center. According to this source, you can place small metal pieces in an aluminum can and crush it closed before dropping it in a mixed metals recycling bin.

Avoid plumbing or compost – It’s not recommended to dispose of metal pieces by flushing them down the toilet or drain. Metal can damage plumbing systems. Also avoid putting metal scraps in your compost pile, as they will not break down.

When To Get A Locksmith

In some cases, it may be better to call a professional locksmith than try to destroy a key on your own. Here are some situations when you should contact a locksmith:

If you lost your keys and need new ones made, a locksmith can create replacement keys for you. They have the skills and tools to make exact duplicates of your existing keys (Source 1). This avoids the need to destroy keys or change your locks entirely.

If you are unable to fully destroy the key yourself through cutting, hammering, melting, etc., bring it to a locksmith. They can ensure the key is completely destroyed and unusable for opening locks (Source 2).

If you feel you need new or upgraded locks installed for improved security, a locksmith can recommend and install the right locks for your needs. They can also re-key existing locks so the destroyed key no longer works (Source 3).

Rather than risk damaging your locks by forcing them open or trying to destroy a stuck key, locksmiths have the skills to safely open locks with minimal damage. Hiring a professional can save you money in the long run.

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