Bronze and brass are not metals, they are alloys. An alloy is a combination of two or more metals forming a homogeneous or heterogeneous mixture. Bronze and brass are alloys of copper. But there are some differences between them. Bronze vs brass is discussed here. There are various alloys of metals, but these two alloys of copper are extremely valuable. If mercury is a component of an alloy, it is known as amalgam. In many cases, metal alloys are formed by mixing one or more metals with non-metals, such as carbon, silicon, phosphorus, etc. Alloys of metals are much more flexible with strength and stretching than single metals.
So bronze and brass are much more flexible and harder than copper. The structure uses, properties of bronze are completely different from brass. According to the composition, and properties there are differences between brass and bronze (1) & (3).
What is brass?
Brass is a type of alloy made from a combination of zinc and copper. It is possible to make different types of brass by varying the amount of copper and zinc in brass. This precious alloy of metal was used in China before 500 BC. Both brass, bronze, and copper are called “red metal” (5).
It is an alloy of copper and zinc that contains 66% copper and 33% zinc. The amount of copper may vary in brass from 55 to 95%. Whereas the amount of zinc in this type of brass can be from 5% to 40%.
Some brass may contain about 2% lead. Adding lead to brass increases its mechanical usefulness. In addition to lead, brass may contain a small amount of silicon, manganese, arsenic, aluminum as other metals (2) & (4).
The color of brass depends on the amount of copper and zinc. If the amount of copper is high, then a pink color appears in golden brass. On the other hand, if the amount of zinc is increased in brass, a silvery color appears (5).
Properties of brass
1. Brass does not easily oxidize and corrode.
2. Density of brass is 8.7 gm/cm³.
3. It is also resistant to bacteria. So it is used a lot in making pot.
4. Brass is not attracted by magnets. So it is a nonmagnetic substance.
5. It is a good conductor of heat.
6. Brass is stronger than pure copper.
7. The melting point of brass is 900 to 945°
8. Its friction does not cause lightning easily.
9. Brass has higher malleability than bronze of zinc.
10. It is easy to cast.
11. Brass comes in different colors like red, yellow, gold, brown, silver, etc. (1) & (5).
What is Bronze?
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. The amounts of copper and tin in bronze are, respectively 75 to 90% and 25 to 10%. But sometimes, other ingredients are also mixed with copper to make bronze. These include arsenic, phosphorus, aluminum, manganese, and silicon.
It is a very precious alloy of copper. This alloy of copper has been used in the past age. A period in the history of human civilization is known as the Bronze Age. In the Bronze Age, copper was extracted from copper ore and mixed with tin, arsenic, or other metals to form alloys such as bronze (2) & (5).
Properties of bronze
1. It is a great conductor of electricity.
2. This alloy metal is less brittle than cast iron.
3. The melting point of bronze is about 950° It’s melting point depending on the ratio of the alloy components.
4. The color of bronze is reddish-brown.
5. It does not produce sparks when struck.
6. Boiling point of bronze is 2300°
7. Bronze is less brittle than other metals.
8. This copper alloy has the power to prevent corrosion.
9. It is quite hard and flexible
10. This alloy exhibits less friction against other metals.
11. Bronze is a metal with a golden sheen (1) & (3).
Uses of bronze
Bronze is used in various fields and has continued from the past to the present day. The cases in which bronze is used are
1. Bronze is used to make coins. Most copper coins are actually bronze consisting of copper with 1% zinc and 4% tin.
2. It has been used to create sculptures from ancient times till the present time.
3. This alloy of copper helps to prepare forbearing clips, electrical connectors, and springs.
4. Bronze has anti-corrosive properties. So it is used in the production of boat and ship accessories due to its resistance to corrosion in saltwater.
5. Guitar and piano strings are made of phosphorus spring.
6. It is used in the preparation of medals, ornaments, etc.
7. Decorative materials, valves, gears, nuts, etc. are made by mixing other metals with bronze.
8. The use of bronze in architecture is very important. Various statues are made of bronze in ancient periods and present days.
9. Aluminum bronze is used for preparing some bearings and machine tools.
10. It is used to make doors, window frames, mailboxes, furniture hardware, trim or rails, etc.
11. Bronze is the main input in the industry for making bronze hammers, springs, turbines, etc. (1) & (2).
Uses of brass
It is a very valuable alloy of copper. The use of brass in daily life is also quite important.
1. Brass is used to making various statues. For example, many Buddha statues are made of brass.
2. It is widely used in musical instruments and electricity and water lines.
3. Lock, gears, bearings, valve, base plates, etc. are formed by brass.
4. It looks as bright as gold so brass is used to make ornaments.
5. This alloy is also resistant to bacteria. So it is used a lot in making dishes, plates, etc.
6. Shields, swords, bows, and arrows were made of brass.
7. Lately, brass items are also being used in interior decoration. These include various showpieces, wall mats, flower tubs, various types of glasses, bowls, mirror frames, etc. are notable (4) & (5).
Bronze vs brass
Brass and bronze may appear similar. But they are two distinct alloys. Here is a comparison between them.
|Definition||In metallurgy, a group of alloys made of a mixture of copper and tin in different proportions with other substances is collectively known as “bronze”||Brass is a type of alloy of metal made from a combination of zinc and copper.|
|Composition||Bronze contains 75 to 90% copper and 25 to 10% tin.||It contains 66% copper and 34% zinc.|
|Color||It is reddish-brown.||Brass has different colors like red, yellow, gold, brown, silver, etc.|
|Melting point||Its melting point is higher than that of brass. The melting point of bronze is about 950°C.||Brass has a lower average melting point than bronze. The melting point of brass is 900 to 945°C.|
|Time of origin||Bronze is an old alloy of copper, discovered around 3500 BC.||This precious alloy of metal was used in China before 500 BC.|
|Corrosion resistance||It has resistance to corrosion towards saltwater.||Brass has corrosion-resistant power but not saltwater.|
|Hardness||Bronze is a hard metal, so it can be used around combustible and explosive materials.||It is harder than copper but softer than bronze.|
|Flexibility||Hard and brittle.||It is a flexible alloy of copper.|
|Brightness||Bronze is less bright than brass.||Brass is more bright than bronze.|
|Heat conductivity||Its heat conductivity is less than that of brass.||The heat conductivity of the brass is higher than that of bronze.|
|Boiling point||The boiling point of bronze is higher than brass. Its boiling point is 2300°C.||It has a lower average boiling point than bronze. The boiling point of brass is 1100°C.|
|Expensive||Bronze is usually more valuable and expensive than brass.||Brass is less valuable and expensive than bronze.|
|Weight||This alloy metal is much heavier than brass.||Brass is lighter than bronze.|
|Strength||It breaks too easily.||It does not break easily (1) & (5).|
1. Brass and bronze are not pure metal. These are alloys.
2. Both have corrosion-resistant power.
3. These two alloys are nonmagnetic substances.
4. Bronze and brass both are conductors of heat and electricity.
5. Brass, bronze, and copper both are known as “red metal”, because of their color (5).
1. How to identify bronze vs brass?
Bronze vs brass both are alloys of copper. So these alloys are identified by their properties.
Bronze is reddish-brown. And Brass has no specific color. The color of brass depends on the amount of copper and zinc. It has different colors like red, yellow, gold, brown, silver, etc.
Brass and bronze both are made of copper metal. But both contain other metals besides copper. Like bronze is made of copper (75 to 90%) and tin (25 to 10%). And brass is made of copper (66%) and zinc (34%).
Brass is a flexible alloy of copper. But bronze is not flexible and is hard and brittle.
Bronze is less bright and brass is more bright than bronze.
The above features help in identifying the bronze and brass.
2. What is brass vs bronze?
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Yet bronze is not a pure metal. It is an alloy of copper and tin.
3. How to tell brass vs bronze?
One of the easiest ways to tell brass vs bronze is their properties.
- Bronze is reddish-brown and brass is different colors, such as golden, red, yellow, silver, etc.
- Brass is a hard substance but less than bronze.
- The boiling point of bronze is higher than brass. Its boiling point is 2300° And brass has a lower average boiling point than bronze. The boiling point of brass is 1100°C.
- Bronze is usually more valuable and expensive than brass.
- The melting point of bronze is about 950° And the Melting point of brass is 900 to 945°C.
So although bronze and brass are called copper alloys, they are different from each other.
4. Bronze vs brass how to tell
They are described in this way
- Bronze will have a much redder color than brass.
- Brass will look more yellowish due to its higher zinc content.
- The boiling point of bronze is higher than brass.
- Brass is more flexible than bronze.
5. Brass vs. bronze, which discolors the skin?
Bronze causes discolor the skin. Because sometimes wearing bronze ornaments, there is a green color in the skin. This occurs when bronze reacts with sweat or body oils. As result copper chelates create in the skin. The excess chelates on the skin cause discoloration of the skin.
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.