Difference between Brass and Copper

Key Difference: Copper is a reddish brown colored metal known for its strength and thermal conductivity. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The varying proportions of copper and zinc in brass define the properties of this alloy.

Copper is one of the important metals. It is a good conductor of electricity. It appears reddish in color and bears a bright luster. It is known for its naturally occurring distinctive color. It is a durable, strong, corrosion-resistant and ductile metal. Though it is bright reddish brown in color, it tends to start appearing black to green over a period of eight to ten years, after getting exposed to the atmosphere.

Historically it has been used for sheathing for ships, making of statues, ornamental detailing, etc. Today, it is mainly used for decorative detailing, piping systems, electrical wiring, etc. Its tendency to corrode  less makes it appropriate to be used for pipes, electrical cables, saucepans, etc.

Brass is related to copper as it is an alloy of copper and zinc. It is stronger and harder than pure copper. In appearance, it can look dark reddish brown to a light silvery yellow. This variation in color is due to the content of zinc in this alloy. It is quite easy to polish brass. It is known for its decent strength and electrical conductivity. It is commonly used in heat exchangers for its excellent thermal conductivity. The electrical conductivity of brass varies from 23 to 44 percent of pure copper.

Thus, the primary difference between copper and brass is that copper is a pure metal, whereas brass is an alloy made of copper and zinc. Copper looks somewhat brown with a rustic finish, whereas brass has a lighter finish due to it bright sheen like gold. The properties of brass differs due to different proportion of zinc and copper to form brass. Brass tends to be more corrosion resistant than copper.

Comparison between brass and copper:

 

Brass

Copper

Definition

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The varying proportions of copper and zinc in brass define the properties of this alloy.

Copper is a reddish brown colored metal known for its strength and thermal conductivity

Color

Brown with a rustic finish

Lighter finish than copper. Similar to gold

Magnetic

No

To a small extent

Strength and durability

High

 High

Chemical symbol

No symbol as it is an alloy

Cu

Common Usage/Applications

  • Roofing
  • Cladding
  • Rainwater systems
  • Heating systems
  • Water pipes and fittings
  • Oil and gas lines
  • Electrical wiring
  • Instruments for acoustic properties
  • Pipe fittings
  • Decorations
  • Applications requiring low friction like locks, gears, doorknobs, etc.

Cleaning Methods

  • Commercial copper cleaning products can be used
  • Lemons and salt can be used
  • A mixture of flour, coarse salt and vinegar rubbing
  •  
  • Washing up liquid and warm water can be used
  • Lemon and salt can be used
  • Abrasive products must be avoided as they can damage the surface

Properties

  • High electrical conductivity
  • High thermal conductivity
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Good ductility and malleability
  • Reasonable tensile strength
  • Versatile range of materials
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Ease of working and joining
  • Different characteristics due to different grades of brass.

Image Courtesy: homeworkshop.com, spicesonline.info

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Comments

Your comparison table needs fixed. The second cell down switches the metals.

Thank you for pointing it out. It has been fixed now.

It hasn’ been fixed. Sorry.

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