When it comes to scrapping materials, a lot of people that do not have much experience can often mix up brass and bronze. Both of these materials are often found in pipes and plumbing fixtures and almost have a similar appearance to a non-trained eye. Usually scrappers try to separate copper from other less valuable materials, leaving them to lump all of the “yellow” metals together and just call it brass. Sometimes those yellow metals may consist of bronze as well as brass. It’s important to identify the difference as bronze is worth anywhere between ten and 25 cents per pound higher than brass.
Brass vs Bronze
Most commonly found in plumbing systems, brass is an abundant non-ferrous (non-magnetic) metal. You will see it used quite a bit in faucets, fixtures, and pipe joints. Being an alloy metal, brass consists of two metals- copper and zinc. Copper is a red colored metal, while zinc is colored silver and both appear on the periodic table of elements. Most brass is made up of around 70% copper and about 30% zinc.
Some Common Brass Materials Are:
Clean Brass Turnings
Not as common as brass, bronze costs a little bit more to create and purchase. Bronze is much heavier than brass but is also a non-ferrous and alloy metal. Also found commonly in plumbing fixtures, bronze can also be found in things like home décor and statues. Bronze may also be found in water meters. Bronze usually has a reddish appearance due to it makeup, being about 90% copper and 10% zinc.
Some Common Bronze Materials Are:
So, What Are the Differences Between Brass & Bronze?
Knowing that both metals are made of the same elements it can be hard to decipher the difference between the two. The main indicating factor of the differences between brass and bronze is that bronze will have a much redder color hue than brass would. Brass will look more yellowish due to its higher zinc content. Brass is worth more money due to it being made up almost entirely of copper, which is worth more than zinc.
How To Spot The Difference
With an untrained eye or no proper tools, identifying the difference between brass and bronze can be difficult. It takes a well-seasoned scrapped to be able to figure out the difference between the two in a short amount of time. Plumbers will also have an easier time knowing the difference as they work with these two materials almost exclusively.
Most scrappers will need what’s called an XRF analyzer to figure out the exact breakdown of the materials in metal, without one it can be near impossible to know the exact specifics of the tested metal. One way to easily get a decent idea of what’s what without an XRF is to file down a part of the metal until you just get the surface off. Once that’s done take a look and see if the color is more reddish or yellow. Red, and it’s most likely bronze. Yellow, and there is a good chance that it is brass. Bronze will also be much dense and heavier that a similar sized piece of brass, so do a quick feel of the two materials as well.