Copper Pipes

Is It Copper Or Brass?

With so many common household items containing copper and brass, it’s no surprise that these two metals are some of the most popular materials in the scrap industry. However, many people are unable to properly tell them apart. The scrap experts at Sgt. Scrap (serving New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York) specialize in identifying unknown scrap metals and disposing of them appropriately. Here, we discuss how to spot the differences between copper and brass and how they differ in value.

Differences Between Copper And Brass

To quickly identify the differences between copper and brass, one must first understand their individual properties. Although these two metals may look somewhat alike, there are distinct differences between them. Key factors to look at when trying to differentiate these metals include:


Although copper and brass have similar color shades, you can still spot differences when inspecting them thoroughly. Taking a grinder or file to the material in question may be one of the best ways to distinguish their features. After hitting it with a grinder, you’ll notice the copper has a bright, rustic, orange sheen. Beforehand, you’ll notice it has a reddish-brown, rustic finish.

Brass has a more yellowish, rustic finish to it. And after applying a grinder or file, you’ll see a brighter, yellowish sheen to the material. Depending on the type of brass and its age, it may even have a reddish or silverish sheen. This is considered red brass, and it holds greater value than yellow brass.


Given their differences in properties, you can identify copper and brass through their uses. Because copper is a great conductor of electricity, it often can be found in electronics and in electrical wiring. Common household appliances that may contain copper include:

  • Coffee makers
  • Toasters
  • Blenders
  • Microwave ovens

Brass is very strong and durable, making it a perfect material for many industries. Some common items made of brass include:

  • Vehicle radiators
  • Handles and railings
  • Ammunition casings
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Marine hardware
  • Technical instruments


Another easy way to help you identify whether an unknown metal is copper or brass is by checking to see if it has any engravings or markings. Brass features distinct markings such as an engraved letter C, followed by three- or five-digit numbers. Copper does not feature any markings or engravings.

Elemental Properties

A more scientific way to differentiate these two metals is by understanding their elemental properties. Copper is a pure metal, according to the periodic table. This means copper is a natural resource, and people can mine it all across the world. Unlike copper, brass is not a pure metal. It combines copper and zinc, making it a metal alloy.


Testing the sound can help identify an unknown metal as well. When struck, copper and brass produce different pitches in sound. If you hit the metal and it makes a low and deep sound, chances are it is copper. If the metal makes a high-pitched sound, it is most likely brass.


One simple way to tell these two metals apart is to test if they are magnetic or not by using a powerful magnet. This will help you identify the metal because brass is slightly magnetic. It will respond to a powerful magnet, whereas copper is not magnetic at all.

Differences In Value

Sgt. Scrap aims to be the premier scrap metal dealer, providing customers with transparent and competitive rates. While both metals are suitable for scrapping, copper and brass have different values. Check today’s prices for metals.

Sell Scrap To The Professionals At Sgt. Scrap

Understanding and knowing the differences between copper and brass can be beneficial, given their differences in value. When it comes to unknown metals, the professionals at Sgt. Scrap have the knowledge and expertise to accurately identify and dispose of them responsibly. We are committed to providing clients in New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Pennsylvania and New York with reliable scrapping services and fair, competitive pricing. Our services include:

  • Drop-off: Customers can haul their scrap to one of our locations, where it will be weighed and fairly appraised. Customers will then get paid.
  • Pick-up: If customers cannot haul their scrap to one of our locations, they can call or fill out a form to schedule a pick-up. Our team will set up a convenient time and date to pick up your scrap from you. (500 pounds minimum)
  • Roll-off containers: Customers who gather scrap over time can safely store it in one of our roll-off dumpsters. Once the dumpster is full, our team will pick it up, and the customer will get paid. (5,000 pounds minimum)

To learn more about our scrap metal services or schedule a pick-up, contact Sgt. Scrap today.

Scroll to Top