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Money Saving Guide: Brass Vs Stainless Steel

Brass Vs Stainless Steel

Introducing the “Money Saving Guide: Brass vs. Stainless Steel.” We’ll look at how choosing between stainless steel & brass can affect your budget. If you have knowledge of the costs & make smart choices. Saving money need not mean sacrificing quality. See where your savings are by looking at your options.

Table of Contents

What is Brass

Brass is a metallic alloy derived from combining copper and zinc. Known for its bright gold-like appearance, brass is both malleable and durable. As a result, it can used for a variety of purposes, from musical instruments to decorative items. Its corrosion resistance & aesthetic appeal place it in both functional and artistic realms. 

Brass Vs Stainless Steel

Material Composition of Brass

Brass is an alloy consisting of two elements:

Copper (Cu):

The major component of brass, copper usually forms anywhere from 55% to 90% of the alloy. Depending on the desired properties and applications.

Zinc (Zn):

Zinc is the secondary element, making up the remaining percentage of the alloy. Influencing the alloy’s strength, ductility, and color.

Advantages of Using Brass

Corrosion Resistance:

Brass has excellent corrosion resistance, specific to moisture and salt water. This makes it perfect for plumbing and marine applications.


Brass is very flexible, making it easy to shape and form. This property is beneficial in the manufacture of intricate components and decorative items.

Low Friction:

The alloy has low friction. Which is important for applications such as locks, gears, and doorknobs.

Heat Conductivity:

Brass conducts heat well. Making it suitable for hot water supply systems and heat exchangers.


Brass’s bright gold-like appearance is attractive to the eye. Leading to its use in decorative fixtures, jewelry, and architectural elements.


Like other metals, brass is recyclable, allowing for sustainability in its usage.


Maintain their structural integrity and appearance over long periods. Even under challenging conditions.


Allowing components to be manufactured quickly and precisely.

Antimicrobial Properties:

According to research, brass surfaces can eliminate certain bacteria.

Given these benefits, brass has remained a popular choice for a variety of industries and applications’ designers, engineers, and manufacturers.

How to Tell if The Material is Brass

This quick reference offers crucial advice to assist you in determining whether a material is brass. A skill that comes in handy for a variety of tasks and applications. Here’s how you can identify brass:


Brass has a distinct bright gold-like hue, like a gold coin. Yet, the precise shade will depend on the amount of zinc present. Higher zinc content tends to make brass appear more yellowish.

Magnet Test:

Brass is not magnetic. You could use a magnet to attach the object. If it doesn’t stick, it might be brass.


Brass items are heavy for their size, owing to the density of the metal.

Scratch Test:

Carefully scratch an inconspicuous area of the item with a sharp object. Brass will reveal a bright yellow color beneath the surface.

File test:

Scratch a small area of the object with a file. If the material is brass, it will have a gold-like color underneath.

Examine for Patina:

Over time, brass develops a patina—a greenish or brownish layer. This tarnish can be a sign of brass, especially on older items.

Smell Test:

Sometimes, brass has a distinct metallic smell. Rubbing the item may cause the odor to become more noticeable.

Use of Chemicals:

Often contain acids that can be applied to metals to test their composition. The reaction (or lack of reaction) can help determine if the material is brass.

Remember, while these tests can be effective, they may not be 100% conclusive. Always be cautious when conducting tests that may damage or devalue an item.

Types of Brass Alloy

There are different types of brass alloys. Each with distinctive properties suitable for particular applications. Here are some of the common types:

Alpha Brass (Common Brass or Gilding Metal):

Alpha Brass (Common Brass or Gilding Metal)

Composition: Around 65% copper and 35% zinc.

Characteristics: Very malleable and can be cold-worked. It’s often used in decorative applications.

Alpha-Beta Brass (Duplex or Muntz Metal):

Alpha-Beta Brass (Duplex or Muntz Metal)

Composition: Approximately 60% copper and 40% zinc.

Characteristics: Stronger than alpha brass but requires hot working. It’s used in applications where strength is required, like in cartridge cases.

Golden Brass:

Golden Brass

Composition: 33% zinc and 67% copper.

Characteristics: This brass has a bright yellow color. It’s used for jewelry and decorative arts.

Red Brass (Gunmetal):

Composition: It usually has a composition of 85% copper, 5% tin, 5% lead, and 5% zinc.

Characteristics: Demonstrates good resistance to saltwater-induced corrosion.  Used for various fittings and valve components.

Lead Brass:

Lead Brass

Composition: Copper, zinc, and lead. The lead content can vary.

Characteristics: The lead content improves the alloy’s machinability. Making it ideal for fittings and hardware.

Naval Brass:

Naval Brass

Composition: 60% copper, 39% zinc, 1% tin.

Characteristics: The tin content enhances resistance to corrosion. Making it ideal for marine applications.

Free-Cutting Brass:

Free-Cutting Brass

Composition: Around 61.5% copper, 35.5% zinc, and 3% lead.

Characteristics: Excellent machinability due to the lead content. It’s often used for precision components.

DZR (Dezincification Resistant) Brass:


Composition: Copper, zinc, and small amounts of arsenic.

Characteristics: Resistant to a specific type of corrosion called dezincification. Which can cause the zinc to leach out of the alloy.

High Brass:

High Brass

Composition: Contains about 65% copper and 35% zinc.

Characteristics: Strong and hard, it can withstand high pressures. Making it suitable for structural applications.

Low Brass:

Low Brass

Composition: Around 80% copper and 20% zinc.

Characteristics: This brass has excellent ductility, making it ideal for drawing into sheets.

The kind of brass alloy chosen, its application, and the desired properties are significant. Be it malleability, strength, corrosion resistance, or appearance.

What is Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium, nickel, and other metals. This material is strong, has an appealing appearance, and has exceptional corrosion resistance, making it perfect for industrial and consumer industries.

Brass Vs Stainless Steel

Material Composition of Stainless Steel

Iron (Fe):

The primary base metal of stainless steel, makes up the majority of its weight.

Chromium (Cr):

Usually found in concentrations between 10.5% and 30%. By creating a passive oxide layer on the alloy’s surface. Chromium manages the alloy’s corrosion resistance, which protects the underlying metal.

Nickel (Ni):

Added to increase the alloy’s ductility, formability, and resistance to corrosion. 

Carbon (C):

Present in small amounts of carbon. It may affect the steel’s hardness and tensile strength. Yet too much carbon can reduce the alloy’s corrosion resistance.

Molybdenum (Mo) & Tungsten (W):

Added to some stainless steel grades. To further improve corrosion resistance, especially in more aggressive environments.

Silicon (Si) & Manganese (Mn):

Added to aid in manufacturing. To enhance the alloy’s resistance to oxidation.

Nitrogen (N):

Used as a strengthening element in certain stainless steel varieties.

Depending on the desired properties & particular grade, stainless steel’s precise composition can change. This adaptability in composition results in a wide range of stainless steel types. Such as 304, 316, or 410, each designed for different applications and environments.

Advantages of Using Stainless Steel

Corrosion Resistance:

The primary advantage is its resistance to rust and staining. Especially in oxidizing environments. Higher chromium content and the addition of elements like molybdenum. It can further enhance this property.

Strength-to-Weight Ratio:

Provides strong resistance to force & wear while maintaining a low weight. 


It is durable, has a long lifespan, and can withstand high temperatures. 


A large proportion of new stainless steel comes from recycled materials, promoting sustainability. A large proportion of new stainless steel comes from recycled materials, promoting sustainability.


Do not react or alter the taste of food products. 

Heat and Fire Resistance:

It can withstand very high temperatures. Making them suitable for applications like boilers, heat exchangers, and exhaust systems.

Low Maintenance:

Stainless steel doesn’t need frequent maintenance. Its surface is easy to clean with a wipe. Ensuring durability and enduring beauty.

From knowing the benefits of stainless steel usage. Let’s now explore a practical skill – how to determine if a material is, indeed, stainless steel. This knowledge can be invaluable when assessing materials for various applications.

How to Tell if The Material is Stainless Steel

Ways to tell if a material is stainless steel are through visual inspection and simple tests. It stands out for having a smooth, shiny surface and being resistant to tarnish or rust.. For a more definite identification:

Magnet Test:

Most stainless steel types are non-magnetic or only magnetic. There are magnetic varieties of stainless steel, if a magnet sticks well, it might not be a common type.


Stainless steel has a characteristic luster and feels smooth to the touch. Over time, it doesn’t rust or tarnish like many other metals.

Scratch Test:

The color and luster of the scratched area of stainless steel. will match that of the surrounding material.

Corrosion Test:

Exposing the material to a damp environment or salty air can be a test. 

Chemical Test:

Chromium can be found in stainless steel. Using inexpensive test kits, establishing its authenticity.

Manufacturer's Markings:

Stainless steel items will have markings or labels indicating their grade.

After mastering the ability to recognize stainless steel. Let’s explore the different types & uses of steel to gain a deeper understanding of the material as a whole. 

Types of Steel

Based on the elements it contains and the specific qualities it created to have. The different types of steel, an alloy made up of iron and carbon, include:

Carbon Steel:

Carbon Steel

The most used kind of steel, it’s categorized further based on carbon content:

  • Low Carbon (Mild Steel): Contains up to 0.3% carbon. It’s malleable and used in construction and automobile body parts.
  • Medium Carbon: Stronger than low carbon steel and harder to form or weld than steel that contains 0.3% to 0.6% carbon.
  • High Carbon: Contains more than 0.6% carbon. It’s hard and strong, used for springs and high-strength wires.

Alloy Steel:

Alloy Steel

This type contains more elements like chromium, molybdenum, or nickel. To provide particular qualities, like heightened strength or corrosion resistance.

Stainless Steel:

Stainless Steel

Known for its resistance to corrosion because it contains at least 10.5% chromium.

Tool Steel:

Tool Steel

Contains elements like tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, and vanadium. Making it particularly hard and resistant to wear. It’s used for making cutting and drilling tools.

Weathering Steel:

Weathering Steel

Contains elements like copper, chromium, and nickel. Designed to form a protective rust patina. It’s used in structures like bridges without needing paint.

Galvanized Steel:

Steel is coated with a layer of zinc to resist corrosion.

Difference Between Brass and Stainless Steel

Brass versus stainless steel, both materials have different compositions, appearances, and physical characteristics. Brass is a copper-zinc alloy known for its bright gold-like hue. Stainless steel is an iron-chromium alloy prized for its corrosion resistance. Let’s explore the difference between brass and stainless steel:

Brass Vs Stainless Steel

Brass vs. Stainless Steel: Strength

Brass: Its strength depends on the zinc content. Higher zinc means greater strength but decreased ductility. Generally, brass has moderate tensile strength.

Density; 8.49 g/cc

Tensile Strength; 338 – 469 MPa

Tensile Strength; 124 – 310 MPa

Stainless Steel: It generally possesses higher tensile strength compared to brass. Especially certain grades designed for strength.

tensile strength of 621 MPa (90 ksi)

Brass vs. Stainless Steel: Durability

Brass: Brass is durable and resistant to corrosion. Especially when alloyed with elements like tin. But it can tarnish or develop a patina over time.

Stainless Steel: Stainless Steel:

It has an outstanding reputation for toughness and resistance. due to the presence of chromium, and rust. It resists tarnishing and corroding well, even when exposed to moisture and water.

Brass vs. Stainless Steel: Price

Brass rmb/ton

60000 = $60500

63000 = $63500

62000 = $62500

62000 = $62500


Stainless Steel rmb/ton

304/No.1 = 14050 – 14150 = $14100

304/No.1 = 14200 – 14300 = $14250

316L/2B = 25900 – 26100 = $26000

This price list is based on Foison Metal company. Prices may vary depending on your chosen manufacturer.

Brass vs. Stainless Steel: Corrosion Resistance

Brass: Has good durability against corrosion, especially when exposed to water.. Dezincification, where zinc leaches out, can be an issue in certain environments.

Stainless Steel: Due to the presence of chromium, it has excellent corrosion resistance. which creates a shielding oxide layer. Specific grades, like 316, offer enhanced resistance in saltwater or chloride-rich environments.

Experts Advice: Which is Best for Manufacturing

Brass and stainless steel both have unique advantages. The decision has to align with the objectives, requirements, and business goals. In choosing the right material for your project, it is best to partner with professionals who know how to handle materials like brass and stainless steel.

Foison Metal manufactures high-quality products out of stainless steel & brass in large quantities. We distinguish ourselves from competing businesses. due to our background in the industry and our experience in it.  Please email or get in touch with us right now to find out more about Foison’s service!

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