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Brass

What is brass?

Brass is an alloy, or blended metal, that is made of copper and zinc. Different proportions of these two main ingredients can create different kinds of brass for various applications. Brass is a “cousin” of bronze, which is also a copper alloy. 

Brass is recognizable by its yellow-gold color, and prized for its durability, malleability (how easy it is to shape it), and the fact that it does not spark when struck. 

Adding other metals to brass can change its properties, from hardness, to color, to corrosion resistance. Some brass is a warm red color, while other varieties might be chocolate brown or silver. 

What is brass used in?

Brass is often a decorative feature on furniture, fixtures, and sculpture. Because it is naturally resistant to bacteria, you will often find it on items like keys and door handles that are exposed to frequent human touch. 

Brass is a popular material for plumbing and other building supplies, from pipes to nuts and bolts. It is also found in ammunition shell casings, which are commonly recycled. 

Brass has long been used in musical instruments because it can be easily worked by hand and formed into the complex shapes required for a variety of horns and percussion instruments like cymbals.  

How is brass made?

Scrap copper and zinc ingots are melted, combined, and poured into molds, resulting in slabs or billets. Billets can then be extruded, forged, or rolled, with further applications of heat, to create pipes, wires, tubes, or sheets.

Is scrap brass valuable?

Like other non-ferrous metals, brass is priced per pound, and is generally in the middle of the price range of non-ferrous scrap. However, brass is very dense, so it can be easier to amass a significant weight of brass than it is for more lightweight non-ferrous metals like aluminum. 

Recycling brass conserves energy and saves landfill space.

Brass, like other metals, breaks down so slowly that you might as well say it doesn’t break down at all. That means any brass that ends up in a landfill is there to stay.

Recycling brass (as well as its source materials, copper and zinc) also means that less ore has to be mined from the earth to produce new brass. Mining is an energy-intensive and environmentally damaging process, even more so than the creation of metals, and metal ores are a limited natural resource. 

Brass is infinitely recyclable. 

Brass, like virtually all metals, can be recycled over and over again without losing the properties that make it valuable and useful. The only other material that can claim infinite recyclability is glass. Other materials, such as plastic, paper, and cardboard, eventually degrade and become useless. 

Cohen accepts all types of brass for recycling. 

Call your local Cohen Recycling Center for current pricing. 

More resources:

Locations, Phone Numbers and Hours

First Timer Visitor’s Guide

What Can I Recycle?