Cath Bailey

Difference Between Brass and Bronze

bronze statue

Most people have heard of “bronze” at least once—in a museum, in a church, or in an Olympic ceremony. It’s a metal used to make a variety of things, including sculptures, bells, and medals. Brass?—Not a lot. Only those in the manufacturing and construction industry are well aware of it.

Truth is even though brass is as useful, if not more, as bronze, it isn’t as popular. One apparent reason for this is because its history is not as remarkable as bronze’s. Unlike brass, bronze was discovered at a time when there are no other metals that could rival it yet.

It didn’t take long, though, before brass could make a name for itself. And at one point in history its existence begged the question “Are brass and bronze the same?”or “Can brass substitute bronze?”

While brass and bronze are both alloys of copper, their properties are not the same. Neither metal can substitute the other at least in highly specialized applications.They must be treated as different metals with different values.


To better understand the difference between brass and bronze, let’s take a close look at their composition. After all, an alloy’s properties can change dramatically when at least one of its contents is altered. In fact, adding even just a miniscule amount of a different element to the composition could produce an entirely different kind of alloy.

As previously mentioned, brass and bronze are both alloys of copper. This means that copper is their base metal content and they differ in their secondary metal content. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, while bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.

Unlike bronze, which was discovered when copper and tin-rich rocks were combined to build campfire rings, the discovery of brass was almost totally unintentional. For some time it wasn’t regarded as a copper alloy because zinc vapor hadn’t been recognized as a metal yet. It wasn’t even called brass until zinc qualified as a metal.


Due to their difference in composition, brass and bronze also possess different properties. Anyone working with these metals must take note of this fact because they are generally not interchangeable.Here’s to help you more easily distinguish between brass and bronze.

  • Color

    – Bronze has a reddish-brown or reddish-gold color, which turns into dark brown or green as it oxidizes. Brass, on the other hand, has a bright gold, copper, or even silver color, depending on the type and amount of other metals added to the mixture.

  • Workability

    – Brass is more malleable than bronze. Meaning, it’s less likely to break when hammered or rolled into thin plates than bronze. In fact, bronze is almost as brittle as cast iron and melts longer than brass. Depending on their composition and the output quality desired, however, both bronze and brass may need to be worked hot.Whether you are extruding brass or bronze bars or drawing them into wires, they need to be heated for easier metalworking.

  • Conductivity

    – When it comes to heat and electrical conductivity, there’s not much difference between the two alloys. They are both effective conductors, and that’s why they’re suitable for machines that run on electricity.

  • Corrosion Resistance

    – Both brass and bronze are resistant to corrosion because they are mostly made of copper. However, they react differently to oxidation. Bronze develops a protective layer called patina when exposed to the air, while brass simply tarnishes and loses its luster. Some types of brass are especially resistant to galvanic seawater corrosion, making them ideal for sea vessel covering and pipes for desalination systems.

  • Acoustic Property

    – The sound created by bronze is much duller and deeper than that created by brass, which explains why it isn’t compatible for high-pitched musical instruments. It’s just right for cymbals and bells, though, because its resonance does not disappear fast. Brass, on the other hand, is capable of creating the smooth, wide-ranging tone expected from musical instruments like trumpet and horn.

Where to Purchase Brass and Bronze

Despite being widely used in the construction, communication, and transportation industries, copper alloys are not as easy to come by as more abundant metals like iron and aluminum. There are only very few bronze and brass suppliers in North America that can provide authentic, high-quality products.

It’s easy to tell if a supplier can deliver the right grade of metal for your project. First, find out how long they’ve been in the business. The older the company, the wider its network of sources is, so it’s also highly that they produce superior products. Rotax Metals, which was established many decades ago, is the perfect example. Having their own foundry is also a meritas it means they have full control of the manufacturing and quality assurance process.


Top 10 Uses of Copper and Others Interesting Facts

copper pot

While gold and silver are irrefutably the most well-known of the 95 metals in the Periodic Table of Elements, to metallurgists and metal connoisseurs, they are nothing out of the ordinary. The real icon in the world of metals is copper, and for a number of good reasons.

  1. Copper is believed to be the first metal humans discovered, dating back to 10,000 years ago. Even before rulers of the first empires wore golden crowns and accessories, copper was already widely utilized for cookware, work tools, and fittings.
  2. It is chockfull of properties that are useful for a vast array of structural and decorative applications.
  3. It’s more abundant than the majority of non-ferrous metals.
  4. It’s easy to combine with other metals to form alloys, thereby allowing the creation of new, expedient materials.
  5. Copper production is so immense an industry that it is often used as a basis for determining the state of global trade.

Properties of Copper

As mentioned, copper is prized for its many useful properties. It’s no wonder copper & brass sales have never seen a significant decline in the last few years. Copper alloys turn out to be extremely useful for the exact same reason. Let’s take a look at some of copper’s more valuable properties.

  • Workability

    – Copper is a malleable and ductile metal. It can be hammered or rolled into thin sheets and drawn into small wires without breaking. In its purest form, copper can be worked cold, but a copper sheet supplier may have to hot work it if it’s combined with another much less pliable metal, such as zinc or lead.

  • Electrical/Heat Conductivity

    – One of the most prominent properties of copper is its high electrical and heat conductivity. It is so conductive that 95 percent of all the transformers, cores of electrical wires, and other conductors are made of copper. Silver is the only metal that is more electrically conductive than copper, but it isn’t good at handling heat, which is why copper is still preferred for electrical applications.

  • Durability

    – Most metals corrode as they oxidize. Iron, for instance, slowly reduces to rust when exposed to oxygen. Copper, on the other hand, oxidizes by developing a protective layer on its surface, called patina. The longer the exposure, the tougher the patina gets. This green layer of protection can preserve the inside of copper for thousands of years.

  • Anti-Bacterial

    – Copper is also one of the few metals that can produce the oligodynamic effect, a phenomenon in which ions of copper break down certain proteins that make up single-celled organisms, killing them eventually.

  • Recyclable

    – Over 80 percent of all the copper ever mined and manufactured are still in use today, and they are all recyclable. Because of this, copper is considered one of the most eco-friendly metals.

10 Uses of Copper

There are more things around you that are made of copper or copper-based alloy than you probably know. Part of the reason is that copper alloys come in different colors and shades depending on their composition. This means they don’t have a single identifying feature. Here’s a list of things copper is used for.

  • Kitchen Sink

    – Copper is a good choice for kitchen sink because it is generally resistant to corrosion and it has anti-microbial properties. For those who are not a fan of patina, however, pure copper is out of the question. They prefer copper alloys that take longer to tarnish, let alone develop patina.

  • Table Tops

    – As mentioned earlier, copper is extremely malleable. You can turn it into thin sheets or plates that make a perfect cover for table and counter tops. Copper’s anti-microbial property makes it suitable for this application as well since these are high-touch surfaces.

  • Jewelry

    – Copper is also a good material for accessories. Even in the ancient times, those who can’t afford gold jewelry wear copper jewelry instead. It offers design flexibility too due to its high ductility.

  • Door Knobs and Pull Handles

    – Maybe you haven’t noticed this but most, if not all, of the door knobs and pull handles you’ve ever held are made partly of copper. They can only be either brass or bronze.

  • Railings

    – When you’re in the train, at a balcony, or on the stairs, odds are you’ll clutch on to the copper-based railing nearest you. Like table tops, railings are also commonly touched surfaces, which is why they are best made of a metal with antimicrobial property. They are conspicuous, too, so they must be made of a naturally elegant-looking material.

  • Tools

    – Ever wondered what metal your wrenches, pliers, screw drivers, and other house tools are made of? Judging by their physical features, you can easily tell that they are copper-based. Specifically, most of them are made of beryllium copper, a non-sparking and non-magnetic alloy that works well in hazardous workspaces.

  • Musical Instruments

    – Copper alloys are also valued for their acoustic quality, especially brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. There are so many brass-based musical instruments that an entire subset of them was named brass.

  • Wire

    – Copper’s high electrical conductivity makes it the safest and most efficient material for wire cores. Unlike silver, it doesn’t burn up when conducting high voltages.

  • Pipes

    – Copper’s antimicrobial property once again proves extremely useful, and this time in filtration applications. Pipes used to convey water or substances requiring zero-level contamination are often made of copper alloys.

  • Gutter

    – It’s probably not the most frugal choice, but a copper gutter is a great addition to your roofing system. It lasts longer, repels mold and mildew, and looks appealing. However, since copper is a little bit more expensive than its galvanized counterpart, you have to be ready to fork out more cash.

There’s just so many uses of copper in everyday life. Over a hundred different copper-based alloys have been discovered since the industrial revolution, and most of them are massed produced and commercially available. Thanks to reputable copper suppliers like Rotax Metals, you have access to superior materials for your projects.

Magnetism: What Metals Are Magnetic and What Are Not?

magnet picking metals in scrapyardEver wondered how scrapyards sort mountains of junk to separate the recyclables from the non-recyclables or to identify which materials are reusable for which applications? They use a variety of techniques from manual to machine-aided segregation since they are dealing with different types of materials.

One very effective technique that almost all big scrapyards use is magnetization. By holding up a powerful magnet above junk, iron-containing or “ferrous” metals can be extracted, leaving behind “non-ferrous” metals, such as copper, brass, and bronze. Of course, plastic items won’t be magnetized as well but they are easy to identify and separate.

How Magnetism Works

Humans have known about magnetism for thousands of years, and our understanding of it has given way to various forms of technology that support some of the most important industries of our time. Because the forces at work in magnetism are invisible, it can easily be mistaken for magic or supernatural occurrence. Unsurprisingly, a lot of magic tricks involve the use of magnetism due to its physics-defying features.Disappointingly for the superstitious, magnetism is pure science.

The best way to understand how magnetism works is by looking through the electron microscope and study the motion of electrons. An atom consists mainly of three types of elementary particles—protons and neutrons, which comprise the nucleus, and electrons, which orbit the nucleus and fill the atom’s orbitals.

Electrons normally come in pairs, both of which spin but in opposite directions. Electrons spin and movement across the atom’s orbital creates a magnetic field. Because a pair of electrons spin in opposite directions, they cancel each other out, eliminating their magnetic capability. Some atoms, however, have unpaired electrons that share the same orbitals. These electrons spin in the same direction, creating a force that either attracts or repels other atoms with unpaired electrons.

Types of Magnetism

Because a lot of different things can happen to the electrons of an atom when exposed to external forces, magnetism may occur in different ways as well. Here are some of the common types of magnetism that you may encounter when trying to magnetize different types of materials.

  • Diamagnetism

    – All materials have a natural tendency to oppose an applied magnetic field, except those that possess paramagnetic properties. This reaction to external magnetization is called diamagnetism.

  • Paramagnetism

    – Some materials have a tendency to enhance an external magnetic field and in the process cancel out their diamagnetic reaction. Each of their atoms have one unpaired electron that is free to align its magnetic moment in any direction where an applied magnetic field exists.

  • Ferromagnetism

    – Like paramagnetic materials, ferromagnetic materials have unpaired electrons on their orbitals. The only difference is that the intrinsic magnetic moment of these unpaired electrons also have the tendency to orient parallel to each other to maintain a low-energy state, allowing them to maintain magnetic force even in the absence of an applied field.

  • Antiferromagnetism

    – Obviously, this is the opposite of ferromagnetism. The intrinsic magnetic moment of the unpaired electrons tends to orient opposite each other instead of parallel to each other. As a result, they don’t create their own magnetic field and are completely reliant on applied field to generate magnetic attraction.

  • Ferrimagnetism

    – Some materials have qualities of both a ferromagnet (retaining magnetization in the absence of a magnetic field) and an antiferromagnet (sometimes rely on external magnetization). Magnetite, the first discovered magnetic substance and was originally believed to be a ferromagnet, is actually a ferrite.

Types of Magnet

Now that we understand how magnetism works on a subatomic level, we can conclude that some metals are naturally magnetic and that the magnetic properties of certain metals can be manipulated. This means not all metals are magnetic but can be alloyed with other metals to become one. Magnetic metals can be classified into three types:

  • Temporary Magnets

    – These are metals that become magnetized when exposed to a magnetic field and lose their magnetism when the magnetic field is removed.

  • Permanent Magnets

    – Some metals have natural magnetic properties. They can attract metals that exhibit the same type of magnetism as they do. Best examples include alnico (an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt) and ferrites (iron oxides combined with nickel, strontium, or cobalt).

  • Electromagnets

    – When you run an electrical current through a coil with a metal core, such as copper, you create a magnetic field, which disappears when the current is shut off.

Meanwhile, there are numerous applications involving the use of metal where magnetism isn’t necessary. Therefore, it is crucial to identify not just metals that can be magnetized, but also metals not attracted to magnets. Some of the most common types of metal attracted to magnets include iron, cobalt, nickel, and some alloys of rare earth metals.

Best examples of non-magnetic metals include copper and its alloys, such as bronze and brass. In fact, they are segregated from scrap by using magnetism to extract magnetic metals like iron mixed with them. Then again, copper is also a kind of metal used in magnets, particularly in electromagnets, due to its high electrical conductivity.

If you are planning to use metals in your project, it’s important to take note of what metals are magnetic and what are not. To be absolutely sure that you are picking the right materials, consult with experts like Rotax Metals. They can give you advice not only on the most ideal type of metal to use but also the exact grade and thickness.


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