Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why Brass Tubing Is Better Option than Pure Copper

Both brass and copper are used in various applications in both residential and commercial projects. These uses range from lighting and sign manufacturing to interior d├ęcor, boat building and more. While they often serve similar functions, each material has its pros and cons—there are some instances when brass tubing is clearly the superior choice over copper.

The Difference between Copper and Brass

Before you can determine which type of tubing is best for your needs, you first need to understand the differences between these two materials. Copper is a naturally-derived pure metal; brass is an alloy material made from both copper and zinc. Both look similar, but brass may be available in different color options based on the amount of zinc versus copper in the alloy.

The Benefits of Brass

As with any construction material, strength is critical. Brass is made stronger than copper by its zinc content. Furthermore, because brass is an alloy, it’s generally a more affordable option than pure copper. Depending on how you plan to use the tubing, these benefits may be highly advantageous for you.

Understanding how these two materials differ will help you discover how one option is superior to the other for the purposes that you have in mind. If strength and color variety are a major consideration, then by all means, go with brass.

Muntz Metal: What It Is and What It Does

Patented in 1832 by Englishman George F. Muntz, Muntz metal, also called yellow metal, was developed as a way to make copper more cost-efficiently. Though it was just as strong as copper, its manufacture was only 2/3 the cost of pure copper at the time of Muntz's invention. The metal is prized for its strength, ability to resist corrosion, and honey color. Here are some basic facts about this interesting alloy.


Muntz metal is primarily made of copper, but zinc is added to prevent corrosion and make the metal stronger. The finished product is 60 percent copper, 40 percent zinc, and contains trace amounts of iron. It is made by adding different metals to the mixture at different times. First, the copper is melted, and then the zinc is infused. The molten metal is mixed and then poured into ingot molds before being shaped into sheets or formed into its final shape. It is then bathed in a mixture of water and sulfuric acid to be made ready for use.


When first introduced to the market, Muntz metal was used frequently in the hulls of ships and to wrap the bases of piers because of its corrosion resistance. Today, Muntz metal is a manufacturing staple due to its corrosion resistance and superior strength. Needless to say, Muntz metal is utilized to make corrosion-resistant parts, bolts, signs, condenser plates, and architectural details or accents.

Why Use Copper and Brass Alloys?

Within building and building materials, copper and brass are constantly recurring elements. Some may wonder as to why such is the case, but the answer tends to be a simple one: versatility!

What are common uses for brass and copper?
Most builders, carpenters, and even do-it-yourself folks are well-aware of the many uses of these metals. One of the main uses within building is piping, as brass piping is strong, resists corrosion, and can also be quite decorative. It provides a distinctive appearance in its colors and texture. Further, brass has a low friction tendency and also has solid acoustic traits. While copper also has a unique appearance, it can sometimes fend off bacteria, which makes it a fine addition in some products, such as air conditioning systems, while brass can be utilized in plumbing and decorative railings within a home or business.

How "user friendly" are these metals?
Within history, copper was actually one of the first metals discovered, and as such, its appearance and use in construction in both homes and commercial properties are nearly boundless! It has been used to help create tools, build structures, and functions as an integral part of many differing items, including electrical systems and air handlers.

Bronze, too, is quite versatile, and since it also contains copper itself, it is easily malleable and can add color choices, such as red and gold, if it should be desired as part of a given project. Depending on the copper and zinc content of the brass, it may provide differing capabilities for temperature handling, which can be a factor depending on how and where it is used and its durability in a location.

Reviewing both of these metals and determining their best placement at a residential or commercial property can add a distinctive look and quality to any construction!