At first glance, brass and bronze look virtually identical. In fact, it takes a bit of investigation to truly identify whether or not a piece of metal is actually bronze or brass. There are notable differences between the two metals, making them not the same. Continue reading to learn the difference between brass and bronze metal.
Brass is a non-ferrous, non-magnetic alloy metal, meaning it does not contain any iron, but it does contain more than one type of metal. It is commonly used in the plumbing industry, mostly as pipe joints, turnings, shells, fixtures, and faucets. The most common metals that make up brass are copper and zinc. So when people are separating their metal piles, they often make the mistake of throwing brass components into the “yellow metal” pile, when they could be adding them to their more valuable, “red metal” pile. Copper is a red metal, while zinc is silver. Together, they make up brass, which generally has an orange, yellowish hue that ranges in color and richness. Brass is stronger and more durable than copper and zinc alone. The amount of each metal in brass varies, but most often, brass is made up of 60 to 80 percent copper, and 20 to 40 percent zinc.
Bronze is an interesting metal because it is rarer than brass, making it more valuable. It is a non-ferrous alloy metal that is heavier and has a higher copper content, generally between 80 and 90 percent. For this reason, bronze is more reddish in color. It is a popular metal for several types of plumbing applications, as well as, water meters, statutes, monuments, and metal decor.
The major difference between brass and bronze is the copper content. Brass has less copper, making it more yellow in color and giving it different properties. Bronze has higher copper content, making it redder in color and also giving it separate properties. To identify the exact breakdown of copper and zinc, you would need an XRF metal analyzer device, which is extremely expensive and mostly bought and used by large scrap metal companies. However, to simply tell them apart, you can file down the initial coat of metal to see which color is revealed the most: yellow or red.