Brass vs Tin Bronze vs Red Copper vs White Copper: The Differences Explained

The earliest human use of copper can be traced back to 10000 years ago.

Archaeologists once excavated copper beads made of natural copper 10000 years ago in northern Iraq.

The history of using copper in China can also be traced back to 4000 years ago.

However, the earliest people used directly refined copper to make objects, which was found to be too soft and short in service life.

Later, people joined some other metals to form copper alloys, which greatly improved the performance of copper.

Nowadays, according to the different alloy compositions, they can be divided into brass, copper, tin bronze and white copper.

What is the difference between them?

Red copper

Red copper is the type of copper with the highest copper content, with copper content reaching 99.5% to 99.95%, and other elements are some impurities.

So it can also be called pure copper.

From the appearance, the red copper is rose red, and the color is purple after oxidation.

The brand composition of pure copper is generally T + sequence number (sequence number means that the copper content decreases with the increase of sequence number), such as T1 and T3;

For example, TP2 and TAg0.1 are also pure copper, and oxygen free copper is represented by TU1 and TU2.

In terms of performance, red copper has good plasticity and conductivity, so it is often used in cables, wires, etc.

ClassificationBrand compositionExamples
Pure copperT + sequence number 1T1, T3
Pure copper (add other elements)T + chemical symbol of added element + sequence number (1) or content of added element (2)TP2, TAg0.1
Oxygen free copperTu + sequence number (1)TU1 and TU2


Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.

The most common elements are copper and zinc.

However, in actual use, some other elements, such as lead, manganese and nickel, are often added to enhance the hardness, strength and chemical corrosion resistance of brass.

From the appearance, brass is yellow.

The grade of brass is generally H + copper content (percentage), such as H59, H90, etc.

More complex brass will use H + the chemical symbol of the second element + the content of elements other than zinc (separated by “-“), such as HPb89-2.

In terms of performance, brass has good wear resistance, which is commonly used in some valves and pipelines. It is soft and has strong wear resistance.

Some cartridge cases and musical instruments are also made of brass.

Related reading: Types of Brass


Bronze is the earliest bronze alloy used.

The earliest is the alloy of copper and tin, which is called tin bronze.

But later, in order to facilitate management, copper and copper alloys other than zinc and nickel were called bronze.

There are lead bronze, aluminum bronze and so on.

From the appearance, it is bronze and blue.

In terms of brand, according to the marking method in China, Q + the chemical symbol of the first main added element + the content of elements other than zinc, such as Q Al5.

However, there are also some commonly used cast copper alloy grades: 5-5-5 tin bronze (ZCuSnPb5Zn5), 10-3 aluminum bronze (ZCuAl0Fe3), etc.

Tin bronze has good casting performance and the smallest shrinkage, so it is very suitable for casting some turbines, gears, etc.

White copper

White copper is an alloy of copper and nickel.

From the appearance, the white copper is silver white.

The designation of white copper is shown as follows:

Ordinary white copper (binary)

B + nickel (containing cobalt) content

For example: B5, B30.

Complex white copper (more than three yuan)

B + the second main added element symbol + the content of elements other than copper (numbers are separated by “one”)

For example: BZn15-20, BA16-1.5, BFe30-1-1.

Note (1): copper content decreases with the increase of serial number.

Note (2 ): the element content is the nominal percentage content (the same below).

There are two types of white copper: structural white copper and electrical white copper.

The structural white copper has good corrosion resistance, such as B30, B10, etc.

It is commonly used in instruments and medical devices.

Electrical white copper has good thermoelectric properties, such as BMn3-12, which is commonly used in resistance elements.


In terms of price, red copper is the most expensive, followed by white copper, followed by bronze, and the cheapest is brass.

But the cheapest is several times more expensive than iron.

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