Chemistry

Difference Between Copper and Brass

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Main Difference

The main difference between Copper and Brass is that Copper is a base metal, whereas brass is an alloy of base metals copper and zinc.

Copper vs. Brass

Copper is a base metal having a high value of electrical and thermal conductivity, whereas brass is an alloy having a low value of electrical and thermal conductivity. Copper holds its position in the periodic table. On the other hand, brass does not occupy a position in the periodic table.

Copper is found in its state naturally, whereas brass is not found in its state naturally; instead, it is formed by a mixture of base metals like copper and zinc. Copper is natural, while brass is human-made. Copper is reddish-orange in color. On the flip side, brass is yellow in color due to the presence of zinc content in it.

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Copper is used to making musical instruments having very mellow and soft sounds. On the contrary, brass makes the musical apparatus and instruments having a very high-pitched sound. Copper is a soft base metal, which can be molded easily. Conversely, brass is hard and more difficult to mold.

Copper has a property of malleable and ductile due to its metal nature. On the flip side, brass has no property of malleability or ductility. Copper comprises good forte, good tensile strength, and abrasion resistance to corrosion. In contrast, brass has less strength and durability as compared to copper.

Copper is mostly used in pipes, pipes fittings, and electrical wiring due to its high electrical conductivity. On the flip side, brass is mostly used in decorative items and musical instruments. Copper has a reddish-brown appearance under sunlight, whereas brass has a yellow-brown hue.

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Comparison Chart

CopperBrass
A base metal having free electrons in valence shell to conduct free electricity is called copper.An amalgam of copper and zinc is called brass.
Position in Periodic Table
OccupiesDoes not occupy
Transition Element
YesNo
Acidic Oxides
GivesDoes not give
Color
Reddish-orangeYellow
Under Sunlight
Reddish-brownYellow-brown
Cost
More expensiveLess expensive
Texture
SoftHard
Usage
Pipes, pipes fittings, electrical wiringMusical instruments and decoration items
Molding Capacity
Easier to moldDifficult to mold

What is Copper?

Copper is a chemical element having the symbol Cu and an atomic number of 29. It is a transition base metal occupying the specific position in the periodic table. Copper is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal having high thermal and electrical conductivity due to the presence of an excess of free electrons in the valence shell.

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If pure copper’s surface is exposed in sunlight, a pinkish-orange hue appears. Copper is considered as the best conductor of heat and electricity. Copper exists in the form that can be used directly without its conversion into other forms.

Copper has excessive usage as a building material as well as a fundamental part of various metal alloys, including sterling silver used in making ornaments, cupronickel used in making aquatic hardware and coins, and constantan used in pressure gauges and thermocouples to measure the temperature.

Copper also forms salts which impart blue and green colors to most minerals like azurite, malachite, and turquoise, etc. The use of copper in buildings is in roofing, where it oxidizes to form green verdigris. Copper also has extensive use in decorative art in the form of metal, as well as compounds existing in the form of pigments.

The compounds of copper are used in the micro biostatic effect of bacteria. Many copper compounds can be used as fungicides as well as food preservatives. Copper has a significant role in human’s dietary plan. It is used as a critical constituent of the respiratory enzyme complex named cytochrome c oxidase.

What is Brass?

Brass is defined as an alloy or mixture of base metal copper and zinc, which comprises the properties of both these elements in their correct proportion. The percentage of elements like copper and brass can be changed according to their fluctuating electrical properties. Brass is recognized as a substitutional alloy.

Brass has a property in which atoms of the two participants, i.e., copper and zinc, can replace each other within the same crystal lattice. Brass has properties similar to bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin. Brass contains minute quantities of other elements, including arsenic, lead, phosphorus, aluminum, manganese, and silicon also.

Brass is well-known for its bright gold-like appearance. Thus, it is used widely for decoration purposes, i.e., drawer pulls and doorknobs, etc. Brass has a low melting point, high durability, and high thermal and electrical conductivity. These properties allow it to be used in the formation of all sorts of utensils.

Brass has wide use in locks, cruxes, tackles, bearings, valves, plumbing, plugs, house connections, zippers, and sockets where low friction and low corrosion resistance is required. Brass is normally used in the formation of musical instruments that produce highly pitched sound. Therefore, they are commonly used in making horns and house doorbells.

Brass is also used as an alternative for copper in the production of costume jewelry, fashion jewelry, and other imitation jewelry nowadays. For its application in jewelry, brass is further blended with zinc to increase its resistance against corrosion.

Key Differences

  1. Copper is a transition base metal, whereas brass is an alloy.
  2. Copper stands in the d-block of the periodic table. On the contrary, brass does not stand in a periodic table.
  3. The copper element contains copper atoms only in its pure form. On the other hand, brass contains atoms of both copper and zinc.
  4. Copper is reddish-orange in color. In contrast, brass is yellow in color due to the presence of zinc contents.
  5. When pure copper is placed under sunlight or florescent bulb, it appears reddish-brown. On the flip side, when brass is placed under sunlight, it gives a yellow-brown hue.
  6. Copper has high thermal and electrical conductivity, whereas brass has high durability and less thermal and electrical conductivity as compared to copper.
  7. Copper is soft in nature. Therefore, it can be molded into the desired shape easily. On the contrary, brass is hard in nature. Thus, it can’t be molded into the desired shape easily.
  8. Copper is malleable and ductile, which is characteristic of the metal. On the flip side, brass does not show any property of malleability and ductility.
  9. The musical instruments formed by using copper produce mellow and soft sound. In contrast, the musical apparatus formed by using brass produce highly pitched sound.
  10. Copper is mostly used in pipes, pipes fittings, and electrical wiring due to its high thermal conductivity. On the other hand, brass is mostly used in musical instruments and decoration items due to its gold-like appearance.
  11. Copper can be recycled after its usage and is soluble in water. On the contrary, brass cannot be recycled and is insoluble in water.
  12. Copper constitutes in the formation of a respiratory enzyme complex named as cytochrome c oxidase, whereas brass is related to non-living things only.

Conclusion

Copper is found in its state naturally, and it is a base metal, while brass is not found in its state naturally, and it is an alloy of copper and zinc.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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