There are various types of metal in nature some exist in a free state and some are not. Metals are generally mixed with other substances in the form of various compounds. Like copper is metal but bronze is not a pure metal, it is an alloy of copper. Therefore they differ from each other in their physical and chemical properties. Bronze vs copper is the main topic of discussion here.
About 118 elements are present in the environment. Among them, 95 are metals that are located to the left of the periodic table. In chemistry, all metals are hard, strong, heavy in weight, shiny, and light reflected, and produce metallic sound and alkaline oxides. All these properties are present in copper hence copper is a metal.
On the other hand, bronze is formed by mixing some other metals with copper. But the structure, uses, properties of bronze are completely different from copper. Based on the composition, uses, and properties there are many differences between copper and bronze. It is discussed below (1) & (2).
What is bronze?
Bronze is an alloy of copper. An alloy is a solid metal formed as a result of a mixture of two or more metals. Bronze is formed as a result of a mixture of copper and tin metals. Many times a few non-metals are combined with metals to form alloys.
A period in the history of human civilization is called the Bronze Age. This is because the use of bronze weapons and equipment was widespread at that time. In metallurgy, bronze is not a specific alloy. Rather, a group of alloys made of a mixture of copper and tin in different proportions with other substances is collectively known as “bronze” (3).
Properties of bronze
1. It is made up of 75 to 90% copper and 25 to 10% tin.
2. Sometimes there are other substances present in bronze, like phosphorus, manganese and silicon.
3. This alloy of metal is naturally resistant to corrosion.
4. It does not produce sparks when struck.
5. Bronze is quite hard and flexible. It is harder than pure iron.
6. It is a nonmagnetic substance. But if iron and nickel are mixed with bronze, then it provides magnetic properties.
7. Color of bronze is reddish-brown.
8. Bronze is less brittle than cast iron.
9. The melting point of bronze is about 950° It’s melting point depending on the ratio of the alloy components.
10. This alloy exhibits less friction against other metals.
What is copper?
Copper is a metal, the word copper comes from the Latin word “cuprum”. Many copper mines have been found in ancient times. The mines of Cyprus are the most significant. The atomic mass of this metal is 63.54 and is solid at room temperature the density of copper is 8.92 gm/cm³.
This metal was naturally found in nature in the early ages. But later the demand for copper increased and people was forced to extract copper from ore. The symbol of copper is Cu. Copper pyrites or chalcopyrite (CuFeS₂) is the main ore of copper. It is present in group 11 (IB) in the periodic table (1).
A little amount of copper is found in the element state in nature. In most cases, copper is located in various forms of compounds. This metal is mainly found near Lake Superior in Canada and in the mountains of Siberia. In India, it is found in Sikkim, Bhutan, Rajasthan, Singhbhum district of Bihar, and Punjab in India.
Ore of copper and their symbol
|1. in the form of oxide||Cuprite (Cu₂O), cupric oxide (CuO)|
|2. in the form of sulfide||Chalcocite (Cu₂S), chalcopyrite (CuFeS₂)|
|3. in the form of carbonate||Malachite (Cu₂CO₃(OH₂), Azurite (Cu₃(CO₃)₂(OH)₂|
|4. in the form of chloride||Atacamite (Cu₂Cl(OH)₃ (1)|
Physical Properties of copper
1. Copper is a special type of orange-red metal.
2. Its atomic number is 29 and the electron configuration of this metal is 2, 8, 18, and 1.
3. This metal is a flexible metal.
4. The electrical conductivity of copper is very high, so many electrical wires contain copper wire.
5. Pure copper is very soft and has its own bright colors.
6. When this metal is exposed to weather, a reddish-orange faded layer forms outside the copper.
7. The melting and boiling points of copper are 1084°c and 2567°c.
8. Copper is a good conductor of heat.
9. It is expandable and resilient. As a result, the metal can be easily turned into a thin sheet or wire (1) & (4).
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. Reaction with acid
- The reaction of copper with H₂SO₄ produces copper sulfate and sulfur dioxide gas.
Cu + 2 H₂SO₄ = CuSO₄ + SO₂ ↑+ 2H₂O
- Copper nitrate and nitrogen dioxide are produced by the reaction of copper with warm HNO₃.
Cu + 4HNO₃ = Cu(NO₃)₂ + 2NO₂ + 2H₂O
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. 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↓ (1)
Uses of bronze
Bronze is a precious element. The use of bronze was very common in the time of history and is still used today. Before the use of iron became usual, the use of bronze as the hardest but most flexible and usable material became the most useful. Uses of bronze are
1. Bronze is widely used in art, architecture, and sculpture in the past and present days. It is used to make various statues.
2. It is used to make doors, window frames, mailboxes, furniture hardware, trim or rails, etc.
3. Aluminum bronze is used to prepare machine tools and some bearings.
4. Bronze is used in woodworking instead of steel. This is because the metal doesn’t discolor oak.
5. Most coins are made of bronze.
6. This alloy of copper is used in the preparation of medals, ornaments, etc.
7. It is used in making decorative materials, valves, gears, nuts, etc.
8. Phosphorus bronze is used in guitar and piano strings.
9. It prevents corrosion. So the element was used in ships due to resistance to saltwater corrosion.
10. Bronze helps to prepare forbearing clips, electrical connectors, and springs (1) & (3).
Uses of copper
Copper is a very valuable metal and is a real icon of the metal world is copper. It is valued for its many useful properties. There are many uses of copper in daily life.
1. Due to its superconductivity, copper is used in the manufacture of electrical wires, dynamo, motor, transformer, and other electrical equipment.
2. This metal is used to prepare various alloys such as brass, bronze, German silver, etc.
3. Copper is a good conductor of heat, so it is used in kitchenware, calorimeters, and boilers.
4. It is used in building construction, power generation, and transmission, manufacturing of electronic products, and transport vehicles.
5. Copper was one of the first metals used to make coins.
Bronze vs copper
Although bronze is an alloy of copper, some differences are observed between bronze and copper. Bronze vs copper is discussed in the table below.
|1. Definition||Bronze is not a pure metal. It is an alloy of copper.||Copper is pure metal. It is very useful for human daily life.|
|2. Color||It is a metallic brown color.||The color of this metal is reddish-brown.|
|3. Thermal conductivity||It has the highest conductivity.||Copper is less conductive metal than bronze.|
|4. Melting point||The bronze melting point is lower than that of copper. The melting point of bronze is about 950°C.||This metal has the highest melting point. The melting point of copper is 1084°C.|
|5. Hardness||It is a lot harder than copper.||The hardness of copper is lower than bronze.|
|6. Durability||Bronze is much stronger and more durable.||Copper is less durable.|
|7. Flexibility||It’s not easily flexed.||This metal is a flexible metal|
|8. Tensile strength||This alloy of copper displays 350 MPa to 635 MPa of tensile strength.||The tensile strength of copper is lower than bronze. Copper tensile strength is 210 MPa.|
|9. Electrical conductivity||Bronze also has electrical conduction capacity but less copper.||Copper has a high electrical conductivity.|
|10. Price||It is less expensive than copper.||Copper is an expensive metal. The price of copper is higher than bronze.|
|11. Weight||Bronze is lighter than copper.||Copper is heavier than bronze.|
|12. Machinability||The machinability of bronze is low because it is a hard and study element. And also it is not easily flexed.||Copper displayed more machinability because it is fixable, expandable, and resilient.|
|13. Yield strength||It has the highest yield strength (10000- 116000 psi)||Its yield strength (4832 psi) is less than the of bronze.|
|14. Corrosion resistance||Bronze is more resistant to corrosion.||Copper is less resistant to corrosion.|
|15. Generates sound||It does not generate a sound when struck.||When copper is hit, a metallic sound is produced (1) & (2).|
Q & A
1. What does bronze vs copper?
Bronze and copper both are elements. But there are some differences between bronze and copper. The differences are-
- Bronze is not a pure metal. It is formed by copper, tin, and other metals or non-metals. So it is an alloy of copper.
On the other hand, copper is pure and expensive metal.
- Copper generates sound when struck because it is a metal. But bronze does not produce sound when struck.
- Bronze is also a conductor of heat and electricity. But copper is the best conductor of heat and electricity. So many electrical wires are made of copper.
- Bronze is hard and sturdy and does any expandable element. On the other hand, Copper is expendable and resilient metal.
2. Brass vs copper vs bronze which is less valuable?
Brass vs copper vs bronze together are called red metals. Among these three red metals, copper is a very expensive and valuable metal. Bronze is usually more expensive than brass. So brass is less valuable among these three red metals.
Written By: Manisha Bharati
- 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.