Every month the iScrap App is going to be featuring a Metal of the Month. We will be exploring the various metals or materials based on their history, how to find them, recycle them, and make the most money on them. This month we explore where brass comes from and where to find its scrap.
What Is Brass?
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc that typically has a yellow color but can vary from a dark reddish-brown to a light silvery-yellow. The varying proportions of zinc to copper are why we have various types of brass (yellow, red, etc.) with different properties. Can you believe there are actually over 60 types of brass?! The alloy is stronger and harder than copper but not as strong as steel and is known for its hardness and workability. Similar to copper, it is a good conductor of heat and generally resistant to corrosion from saltwater.
Fun Fact: Brass has sometimes historically been referred to as ‘yellow copper.’
The earliest brass was called calamine brass, dating back to Neolithic times; for those who don’t know what or when Neolithic times were because we didn’t either, it was the final stage of cultural evolution and technological development among prehistoric humans, highly debated but sometime around 10,000 BCE. That was a long, long time ago. So let’s lay it all out for you.
- 10,000 BCE: Neolithic times and the first evidence of brass.
- 3,000 BCE: Ancient metalworkers in the area now known as Syria or eastern Turkey would combine copper and tin to make bronze but sometimes brass without even knowing it.
- 20 BC – 20 AD: Metalworkers around the Mediterranean Sea distinguished zinc ores from those containing tin and began blending zinc with copper to make brass coins.
- 300 AD: The Brass metalworking industry flourished in what is now Germany and the Netherlands.
- 1746: A German scientist named Andreas Sigismund Marggraf identified zinc and determined its properties.
- 1781: The process of combing metallic copper and zinc to make brass was patented in England.
- 1852: the first metal cartridge casings for firearms were introduced.
Where Does Brass Come From?
Well, we already know brass is made of copper and zinc, and both of those metals are mined, melted, and combined into brass. However, a few different manufacturing processes are used when creating brass items because the desired shape and properties determine how it is made. You have…
- Hot Rolling
- Annealing & Cold Rolling
- Finish Rolling
We won’t go into what happens in each process; that part doesn’t matter too much to scrappers but knowing where to find brass scrap is.
Where Can I Find Brass Scrap?
Brass is extremely recyclable, let alone the sheer variety of brass items available today. Let’s list off a bunch:
- Ammunition components
- Builder’s hardware
- Plumbing goods
- Faucet handles
- Sprinkler heads
- Window and door fittings
- Musical instruments
- Vehicle radiators
- Handles and railings
- Marine hardware
- Technical instruments
This list is clearly not all-encompassing, but just a good way to show how widely used brass is and in so many different applications. In conclusion, BRASS CAN BE FOUND ANYWHERE.
Tips For Making The Most Money With Brass Scrap
The #1 rule (and this goes for most, if not all, scrap metal): Separate! 🗣 Separate your red brass from your yellow and the clean from your unclean. Red brass has a higher copper content than yellow brass, meaning its value is higher. So the question stands: why would you want to group them all in together?! Next, take the brass fittings soldered on copper, separate, and make more money with both metals! Also, feel free to ‘clean’ dirty brass and step up its grade (cha-ching 💸).
- Metal Monday – Brass Is An Alloy
- Should You Separate Chrome & Yellow Brass?
- What’s The Difference Between Brass & Bronze?