The Difference Between Brass and Copper

 In Brass Recycling, Copper Recycling

Copper and brass are two of the more common metals seen in the scrap metal industry. Since these two metals have different scrap values, it is good to know how to tell the difference between the two.

Here are six tips to help you make the distinction.


Copper is an element on the periodic table (Cu) and is pure metal. This means copper is a natural resource found in mines all over the world. Brass, on the other hand, is a metal alloy. Being a metal alloy means that it is made up of a combination of different elements and is not naturally occurring. There is a percentage of copper and zinc in brass.


Copper has a more reddish-brown rustic finish to it, and brass has a yellowish, lighter finish with a brighter sheen. The appearance of brass is comparable to gold.


Since copper conducts electricity rather well, it is often used in electrical wiring and electronics. Brass is commonly used in home fixtures, furniture, and decorative items due to its strength and durability.


Test for sound by striking the metal lightly. Copper will most likely produce a deep and low sound while brass will produce a high-pitched sound.


If you have a powerful magnet, you can use it to test for copper or brass. Copper is not magnetic at all. Brass is slightly magnetic and can respond to a powerful magnet.


Check the item for a letter ‘C’ engraved into with followed by three or five-digit numbers. If you see such an engraving, then you know it is brass and not copper. If there is no engraving, then it is possibly copper.

Copper will typically bring a higher value for scrap metal than brass. While both metals are suitable for scrap, knowing the difference between the two will bring more value to your metal hunting.

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