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topic 38735

Copper VS Brass


I have two questions. Is there something you can use to test whether a utensil is made of copper? I am having problems distinguishing the difference between copper and brass because they almost look alike.
Secondly, what do you suggest I use to clean copper in order to bring out its shine?

Anjanie M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Consumer/student - Evansville, IN, USA


Copper is an element, so it usually has pretty much the same look--the look of a penny, or a piece of bare wire, or a copper-bottom pot, or copper plumbing pipes. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc in varying proportions; it's a lot more like gold (quite yellowish); you know what brass band instruments looks like and brass handrails and footrails and brass door knobs and brass keys.

There are dozens of copper and brass polishes mentioned on this site. Brasso [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] is one example.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Copper or brass? We have a eagle on a branch sculpture...but we do not know if it is brass or copper.How do we tell and should we even attempt to clean it or leave it in it's state that it is in?
right now it is grayish with some green in areas where water may have come in contact with it years ago.The whole thing stands 2 ft high with the wing spand of almost 3 ft.
Any help would be appreciated.
thank you,

Maggi N [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
owner of item - Kerman, California, USA


In addition to what was already said about copper and brass, copper is almost never cast like that, Maggi. You can be quite confident that it's brass or bronze (if it's real and not pot metal, plaster, or fiberglass).

But I don't know how anyone could possibly advise, sight unseen, whether you should attempt to clean it. First, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; second, cleaning diminishes the value of valuable antiques but we have no idea whether this is a priceless antique or a mass produced item from China. Take it to an antique shop for a look. Good luck.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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