Brass is a popular metal often used for decoration. Its soft, ductile, and malleable properties make it inefficient for heavy-duty applications. The metal’s color is close to that of gold, which is the reason why many mistake brass as a precious metal. However, like gold, brass is resistant to tarnishing and may maintain its luster for years.
Brass is formed by mixing copper and zinc. These two metals are known for their ability to cause passivation, the process by which a metal prevents oxidation on its surface. In effect, brass does not rust, and the presence of copper allows it to form a coating that protects its surface from potential corrosion.
Unlike bronze, which can be an alloy of copper and any known metal, brass can be formed only by copper and zinc. However, mixing different amounts of zinc produces different types of brass. This procedure also forms brasses that perform well in various applications where a typical brass may fail. To form stronger and harder brasses, the amount of zinc must be increased.
The most common applications for brass include manufacturing coins, doorknobs, and nameplates. Some strong alloys of brass are formed into tubes that can be used in making marine condensers, pump casting, and hydraulic equipment fittings. Continuous study of the properties of brass allow for the discovery of its various other applications.