7 Suprprising Things Made of Brass

7 Surprising Things Made of Brass

Brass – an alloy of copper and zinc – is one of the most widely used alloys. Known for its decorative attributes and bright gold appearance, brass also exhibits durability, corrosion resistance, and high electrical conductivity.

Brass sheet and brass plate are more malleable than bronze, and generally very easy to cut, machine, and fabricate, making it useful in the manufacturing, construction, electrical and plumbing industries.

Accidential Discovery of Brass

As far as we know, brass was discovered accidentally, when metalworkers in ancient Asia smelted a crude form of brass from zinc-rich copper ores. Then about 2,000 years ago, the Greeks and Romans began melting calamine ore, which contained copper and zinc – causing zinc ions to be dispersed throughout the copper.

Over the centuries, a number of other processes have been developed for making brass, with additional metals, such as aluminum, lead, and arsenic, added to create alloys with different properties.

Brass’ Growing Uses

Because of its wide versatility, brass has found its way into a surprising range of applications, including:

Ammunition casings – Spark resistant, low-friction, corrosion-resistant, and non-magnetic, brass can be easily rolled into thin sheets and formed into cartridge shells. It is also easy to recycle for ammo reloading.

Marine hardware – Due to its hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance – even in the presence of salt water – brass was used for centuries as sheathing on the hulls of wooden naval ships, for navigational tools, and later, marine engines and pumps.

Electronic components – For electrical panel board switches and relays, as well as PCB plug pins, sockets and terminal blocks, the malleable, non-magnetic nature of brass, and the fact that it costs less than gold and silver, makes it an excellent choice of material.

Radiator cores, tubes and tanks – Brazed copper-brass radiators for cars and trucks cost less than aluminum radiators, are easier to manufacture, last longer, and are much easier to recycle, which makes them more energy efficient. They have also been shown to have a lower air-side pressure drop than aluminum radiators.

Musical instruments – The durability, workability, corrosion resistance, and acoustic properties of brass make it an excellent, economic choice for a wide range of musical instruments, from trumpets, tubas, and trombones to cymbals, gongs, and bells.

RV water pressure regulator and elbow fittings – Much stronger and tougher than plastic, brass fittings can stand up to high water pressure and reduce it to a manageable level for use in RVs.

Technical instruments – For centuries, non-magnetic brass has been used to make measuring instruments, such as compasses, astrolabes, barometers, chronometers, clocks, and watches. While retaining its hardness and strength, brass is easily worked and engraved with permanent indicator marks for reading the time, tide, direction, or barometric pressure.

Brass in All Shapes & Sizes

Brass can typically be purchased in a number of forms, including:

  • Round, square, rectangle and hex bar
  • Sheet and plate
  • Tubing
  • Angle and channel
  • Shim
  • Threaded rod
  • Foil
  • Decorative railing & accessories

Industrial Metal Supply stocks brass sheet and plate in many forms and in full sizes or pre-cuts, as well as a line of decorative brass railing from Lavi Industries. Questions? Contact us today!

Brass vs Bronze

Bronze and brass are metal alloys that both incorporate copper into their composition. To the untrained eye, the two alloys look fairly similar. However, the color, durability, and application of these metals are actually quite different. Below, we’ve outlined some of the unique properties that define brass and bronze.


  • Composition: There are dozens of different brass alloys, each with its own proportion of copper and zinc. There may also be tiny amounts of aluminum, phosphorus, manganese, and other metals.
  • Color: Depending on the amount of zinc in the alloy, brass can vary from a dull gold color to a slightly more reddish hue.
  • Historical Origin: Used since prehistoric times, brass became much more popular after the medieval period, when people learned how to create the copper-zinc metal. In the beginning, brass was made by smelting copper ores, which fortuitously has high proportions of zinc.
  • Properties: Brass is more malleable than bronze, although certain alloys are considered soft and hard brasses. It’s not complicated to recycle brass alloy, and when collected from scrap yards, it’s also an easy material to cast into billets. It also has a lower melting point than bronze.
  • Practical Use: Mainly used for decoration, brass is also harnessed to create musical instruments (trumpets, trombones, etc), doorknobs, plumbing, ammunition, and certain electronics.


  • Composition: Like brass, bronze is mainly composed of copper, but also has about 12% tin, along with smaller amounts of aluminum, silicon, manganese, or zinc.
  • Color: Depending on the composition, bronze can have a mix of browns, reds, and yellows. It usually looks reddish brown.
  • Historical Origin: Discovered before brass, bronze has been used in some form since 5000 BC. The earliest bronze used arsenic instead of tin, and arsenic bronze artifacts were found in the Iranian Plateau between Western and Central Asia. Tin bronze was introduced around 3500 BC.
  • Properties: More brittle than brass, bronze has a higher melting point (around 950ºC). Its strong resistance to corrosion makes the alloy useful for coastal, seafaring applications.
  • Practical Use: Sculptures, electrical connectors, drum cymbals, boat fittings and propellers.