Brass vs copper a comparison and properties

Brass vs copper


Brass is an alloy of metal but copper is metal not alloy. An alloy is a mixture of metals with other metals or nonmetals to form various compounds. Therefore, brass and copper are both different with different properties hence brass vs copper are discussed below (1).

Metallurgy is a term used to refer to the manufacture of products by a particular metal. Metal is a chemical component. The art of carving on metal has been around since ancient times. Copper and its alloys have been widely used in ancient times.

Although there are some similarities in chemical properties between alloys and their metallic components, there are differences in physical properties. Brass is formed by mixing some other metals with copper. So the physical properties of copper and brass are different (3) & (4).

What is brass?

Brass can be defined as a metal alloy made of copper and zinc, among other materials. This metal alloy contains about 66% copper and 33% zinc. It is a metallic substance. About 2% lead is also present in some types of brass. Increasing the amount of zinc gives brass a better strength and flexibility.

There are different colors of brass. Although brass is usually a bright golden color, the color may vary depending on the amount of zinc. It has good strength but it is a soft metal alloy. When the amount of zinc in brass increases, silver color appears (5).

Properties of Brass

1. It is a metallic alloy formed by a mixture of metals.

Brass is not attracted by magnets. So it is a nonmagnetic substance.

Its density is about 8.7 gm/cm³.

The melting point of brass is 900 to 945°

It is a good conductor of heat.

This metallic alloy is used a lot in making pot because it is also resistant to bacteria.

Brass is stronger than pure copper.

Its friction does not cause lightning easily.

Brass comes in different colors like red, yellow, gold, brown, silver, etc.

It is easy to cast (2) & (5).

What is copper?

Copper is a reddish-brown metal with a shiny appearance. It is pure primary metal without mixing any other ingredients. Pure copper is very soft and has its own bright colors. The valency of copper is 2, 1. The atomic weight of this metal is 63.5 gm.

It has very low magnetic properties. But it can react to a magnet when it comes in contact with a huge magnetic field. Copper is used in the manufacture of alloys. It is a very precious metal. This metal has been used since ancient times (1).

Properties of Copper


1. Copper is a good conductor of heat and electricity. Therefore, many electrical wires contain copper.

2. It is a transition metal.

3. The melting and boiling point of copper is 1084°C and 2567°

4. A reddish-orange faded layer is formed on the outside of the copper in contact with the weather.

5. It is expandable and resilient. As a result, the metal can be easily turned into a thin sheet or wire.

6. The atomic mass of this metal is 63.54. It is solid at room temperature.

7. Its atomic number is 29. The electron configuration of this metal is 2, 8, 18, and 1.

8. The density of copper is 8.96 gm/cm³.

9. It is a soft and flexible metal (1) & (2).

Chemical properties of Copper

1. Reaction with air

Copper does not react with dry air at normal temperatures.

In the presence of oxygen, intense heating of copper produces black color cupric oxide and red color cuprous oxide.

2Cu + O₂ = 2CuO

4Cu + O₂ = 2Cu₂O

2. Replacement reaction

In the electrochemical system, when copper is added to the aqueous solution of the salts of the metals, the metals are replaced by copper and precipitate, and the copper dissolves to form a similar salt.

For example, mercury or silver precipitates when copper is added to an aqueous solution of mercury or silver salt.

HgCl₂ + Cu = CuCl₂ + Hg↓

2AgNO₃ + Cu = Cu (NO₃)₂ + 2Ag↓

3. Reduction reaction

Copper produces nitrogen by deoxidizing oxides of nitrogen and reduction of ferric ions to produce ferrous ions.

2Cu + 2NO = 2CuO + N₂

2FexCl + Cu = CuCl₂+ 2FeCl₂

4. Reaction with acid

1. The reaction of copper with H₂SO₄ produces copper sulfate and sulfur dioxide gas.

Cu + 2 H₂SO₄ = CuSO₄ + SO₂ ↑+ 2H₂O

2. Copper nitrate and nitrogen dioxide are produced by the reaction of copper with warm HNO₃.

Cu + 4HNO₃ = Cu (NO₃)₂ + 2NO₂ + 2H₂O

5. Reaction with water

Copper does not react with water or steam under any circumstances.

6. Reaction with alkali

It also does not react with alkali in any condition (1).

Sources of copper

There are few amounts of copper found in nature. The remaining copper is extracted from various compounds. In India, copper is found in the singhbhum district of Bihar, Hazaribagh, Santal parganas, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Bhutan, Rajasthan, etc. This metal is mainly found near Lake Superior in Canada and in the mountains of Siberia.

Ore of copper

1.     in the form of oxideCuprite (Cu₂O), cupric oxide (CuO)
2.     in the form of sulfideChalcocite (Cu₂S), chalcopyrite (CuFeS₂)
3.     in the form of carbonateMalachite (Cu₂CO₃(OH₂), Azurite (Cu₃(CO₃)₂(OH)₂
4.     in the form of chlorideAtacamite (Cu₂Cl(OH)₃

Uses of brass

1. Musical instruments and electricity and water lines etc. are formed by brass.

2. Brass looks as bright as gold so brass is used to make ornaments.

3. Various statues are made of brass.

4. It is also resistant to bacteria. So it is used a lot in making dishes, plates, etc.

5. Shields, swords, bows, and arrows were made of brass.

6. Brass items are also being used in interior decoration. These include various showpieces, wall mats, flower tubs, various types of glasses, bowls, etc.

7. Lock, gears, bearings, valve, base plates, etc. are formed by brass (3) & (5).

Uses of copper

1. It was one of the first metals used to make coins.

2. This metal is also used in electroplating.

3. It is a good conductor of heat, so it is used in kitchenware, calorimeters, and boilers.

4. Copper is used in building construction, power generation, and transmission, the manufacturing of electronic products, and transport vehicles.

5. Due to its superconductivity, copper is used in the manufacture of electrical wires, dynamo, motor, transformer, and other electrical equipment.

6. Various alloys are produced from copper, like, brass, bronze, German silver, etc.

7. Copper is used in electric wires, electric cells, electric motors, dynamos, etc. (2) & (4).

Brass vs copper

Brass is an alloy of copper and Copper is a metal. So some differences are observed between Brass and copper. Brass vs copper is discussed in the table below.




1. DefinitionBrass is not pure metal. It is an alloy of copper.Copper is pure metal.
2. ColorIt has different colors like red, yellow, gold, brown, silver, etc.The color of this metal is reddish-brown.
3. Thermal conductivityThis metal is also a conductor of heat but less than copper.It is an excellent conductor of heat.
4. Melting pointBrass has a lower average melting point than copper. The melting point of brass is 900 to 945°C.The melting point of copper is 1084°C, which is higher than brass.
5. HardnessIt is harder than copper.Copper is softer than brass.
6. DurabilityBrass is a strong and durable substance.It is less durable than brass.
7. FlexibilityIt is flexible but less than copper.Copper is a flexible metal.
8. Boiling pointThis metal has a lower average boiling point than copper. The boiling point of brass is 1100°C.The boiling point of copper is higher than brass (2562°C).
9. Tensile strengthBrass tensile strength is higher than copper. Its tensile strength is 360 MPa.Tensile strength of copper is lower than brass. Copper tensile strength is 210 MPa
10. Electrical conductivityThe electrical conductivity of brass is lower than copper.Copper has a high electrical conductivity.
11. PriceBrass is less valuable and expensive.It is a very expensive metal. The price of copper is higher than brass.
12. WeightIt is lighter than copper.This metal is heavier than brass.
13. BrightnessBrass is more bright than copper.Copper is less bright than brass.
14. MachinabilityIt displayed less machinability than copper.Copper displayed more machinability, because it is fixable, expandable, and resilient.
15. Yield strengthBrass has higher yield strength than copper. Its yield strength is 20300 psi.The yield strength of copper (4832 psi) is less than the of brass.
16. Generates soundIt does not produce sparks when struck.Copper is a metal. So when it is hit, a metallic sound is produced (1) & ( 4).

Q & A

1. How to identify brass vs copper?

Brass is an alloy of copper. So these alloys are identified by their properties. Such as-

  • Color

Brass has different colors like red, yellow, gold, brown. But copper is reddish-brown.

  • Flexibility

Copper is more flexible than brass.

  • Brightness

Brass is more bright than copper.

  • Thermal conductivity

Copper is an excellent conductivity of heat. On the other hand, brass is less conductive of heat.

  • Electrical conductivity

The electrical conductivity of copper is higher than brass.

The above features help in identifying the brass vs copper.

2. How to tell brass vs. copper?

Copper is pure metal. On the other hand, brass is an alloy of copper, zinc, and often other metals. The color of the brass is usually distinct enough to separate it from copper. The color of copper is reddish-brown and brass is a different color, such as red, yellow, brown, silver, and gold.

3. How to know copper vs brass?

Copper vs brass is described in this way-

  • Copper is heavier than brass.
  • Brass will look more yellowish due to its higher zinc content. But copper is reddish-brown.
  • Copper is more flexible than brass.
  • Brass is more bright than copper.

4. Copper plate vs brass plated .22 rounds which are better?

The .22 rimfire was the first American metallic cartridge. Brass has properties that make it the best choice for a cartridge casing. Copper is a soft metal. It is used for coating or plating. So brass plated .22rounds is better than copper plated.

5. How to tell antique copper cartridge vs brass cartridge?

Brass is the most popular material to make cartridges than copper. Because brass has Better corrosion resistance than pure cotton. Pure cotton is soft and flexible. But brass is hard and less flexible than copper. Cartridges are generally made of yellow brass. It is made of 70% copper and 30% zinc.

Written By: Manisha Bharati


  1. L. Dutta. Inorganic Chemistry: Chemical Elements and their Compounds. Part- II. The New Book Stall, Kolkata. Chapter: Group IB (Group 11), Copper, Silver, and Gold. Page No: 460 to 482.

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