How To Identify Between Brass And Bronze

By Joe Stephens •  Updated: 10/09/20 •  3 min read

brass and bronze welding exampleIn the welding world, it is essential that you know how to identify between brass and bronze. Even though they share certain properties and may look the same, there are significant differences between the two metals.

For instance, if you purchase brass but actually required bronze for your project, this could pose a significant problem. Their differences mean that each one is only a suitable fit for certain applications.

Here are a few points to consider before you make any metal purchases for your project, so you know how to identify between brass and bronze!

Difference Between Brass And Bronze

1. The Composition

Copper is the same base element for both brass and bronze. Due to this, both metals can feel and look very similar – which is where the confusion between the two starts. Nevertheless, the alloying elements are different between them. Brass features zinc, whereas bronze contains tin.

Variants are created to work for specific applications, and these variants incorporate other elements into the base metal. Brass, for example, can be further alloyed with iron. In comparison, bronze can be alloyed with aluminum, silicon, manganese, or phosphorus.

Despite the composition changes this further alloying provides, both metals retain their distinct qualities – and they do not turn into entirely different materials as a result.

2. The Color

If you are searching for the best way to identify between brass and bronze, you only have to take a closer look at their color.

When it comes to bronze, this metal tends to feature a muted yellow shade-type color. This makes it appear like dull gold, which is why it is often incorporated into fixtures and furniture.

On the other hand, bronze has a reddish-brown appearance. Admittedly this color can change up slightly depending on which elements – if any – are added to the mixture. However, the alteration is not big enough where you cannot tell the color difference between bronze and brass.

3. The Properties

Testing either metals’ properties is another clear way to check if you are utilizing the correct material.

Brass is the more ductile and malleable of the two. Why? Well, this is due to the fact that tin is better at pinning the copper lattice when compared to zinc. This means that, whenever the metal is hammered, pressed, or rolled, the lattices which form the brass slide with more freedom on top of each other.

This also means that bronze is a more brittle material than brass. However, due to brass oxidizing at a much faster rate, bronze has an extra durability level.

4. Applications

Copper, on its own, lacks a number of critical properties for use in certain applications. By being transformed into brass or bronze via zinc or tin introduction, the material becomes suitable for a wide range of applications across the two metals.

For example, brass is an excellent option for crafting the likes of plumbing fittings, zippers, and musical instruments. In comparison, bronze is also utilized in many applications like ship propellers, ship fittings, submerged bearings, bells, and weather-stripping.

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Joe Stephens

Joey has over 20 years of experience working in the welding industry and now works with providing readers with intensive reviews. Joey has also self-published an e-book and has written countless articles regarding welding information and safety.