- What Is Brass, Exactly?
Brass is an alloy, meaning it’s actually made up of more than one type of metal. Basic modern brass contains about 67% copper and 33% zinc, though early versions of brass had different proportions and sometimes included other elements. You can now guess how much zinc a certain brass contains based on its color; the lighter the color, the more zinc is present.
- Where Is Brass Used?
Brass is used in a wide range of household applications, from décor to plumbing, as well as in industrial systems. You’ve probably used brass fixtures and brass fittings before, even if you didn’t know it. And, of course, brass is widely used in musical instruments.
- Why Is Brass So Popular?
Brass has a unique combination of properties that make it a preferred alloy for certain tasks. First of all, it has been prized for its bright gold color for millennia. Beyond that, brass is both malleable and durable, meaning that it’s relatively easy to shape and yet quite strong. That makes it perfect for mission-critical valves and fittings, for example. The average house loses 22 gallons of water each day to leakage, so it makes sense that plumbers would now want to use better materials to join and repair piping. Brass also resists corrosion and is anti-microbial, which makes it ideal for water-based systems.
- Is Brass Safe in the Home?
You may have heard that brass contains lead, and it’s true that lead is often added to brass — though only in concentrations around 2%, simply to harden the alloy. That means it’s still safe to have around your house. Just to be on the safe side, however, regulators have decided that parts used in potable water systems must have less than 0.2% lead in the brass alloy. That’s why there are both leaded and lead free brass fittings.
- How Can I Buy Quality Brass?
Although the basic makeup of brass is similar across the board, not all manufacturers are equal in quality. Only buy brass products of any kind from a manufacturer that has a long history and can provide you with plenty of references.
Did you learn something about brass? Share in the comments.