Red Brass vs Yellow Brass: Differences in Properties, Application, Price


Brass is a versatile and widely used alloy in the manufacturing industry, known for its golden hue and numerous applications. Among the various types of brass, red brass and yellow brass are particularly common, yet they have distinct differences that set them apart. This article explores what these two brass types are and how they differ in terms of composition, properties, applications, and price.

What is Red Brass?

Red brass (C23000), also known as rose brass, possesses a high copper composition of about 85%. This gives it a distinctive reddish hue. Red brass is particularly valued in the plumbing industry for its durability and corrosion resistance. It is also used for decorative purposes and in applications where resistance to zinc loss and seasonal cracking is important. Common uses include commercial water piping, decorative hardware, and musical instruments.

What is Red Brass Used For?

Red brass is commonly used for:

What is Yellow Brass?

Yellow brass (C26000) is characterized by its golden color, resulting from a typical copper content of about 60%. This type of brass has relatively good corrosion resistance, moderate strength, and excellent ductility in specific forms. Yellow brass is versatile and can be found in various forms such as rods, bars, sheets, and plates. It is widely used in the automotive industry, for plumbing components, decorative hardware, and musical instruments.

What is Yellow Brass Used For?

Here are the common applications of yellow brass:

Difference Between Red Brass and Yellow Brass

The differences between red brass and yellow brass are significant and can influence the choice of material for specific applications. Let’s break down these differences:

Red Brass: Contains about 85% copper, with the remainder being zinc and small amounts of other elements. Some specific types of red brass may also contain arsenic to prevent corrosion from chlorinated water.

Yellow Brass: Generally has a copper content of around 60%, with the remainder being zinc and occasionally other elements to enhance its properties.

Obviously, the proportions of metal elements in red brass and yellow brass are different, especially the proportion of copper. This largely determines that the two will have the following different physical properties:


Red Brass: Softer due to higher copper content, with a hardness index of around 2.5-3 on the Mohs scale. Offers moderate strength suitable for forming and shaping.

Yellow Brass: Generally harder than red brass, with a hardness index of 3-4 on the Mohs scale. The increased zinc content contributes to its higher hardness and toughness.


Red Brass: Adequate machinability, but slightly less than yellow brass. Suitable for applications requiring detailed shaping, such as intricate fittings.

Yellow Brass: Excellent machinability, making it a preferred material for components requiring precision manufacturing, like fasteners and gears.


Red Brass: Easier to weld due to its composition. Preferred for applications where welding is necessary, such as pipes and fittings.

Yellow Brass: Weldability varies; with a zinc content higher than 20%, it can be welded well. Care must be taken during welding to avoid zinc fumes.


Red Brass: Exhibits superior electrical conductivity, often used as a benchmark (100% IACS). Chosen for electrical applications where high conductivity is required.

Yellow Brass: Lower electrical conductivity compared to red brass, around 28% IACS. Still used in electrical connectors and components where high conductivity is not critical.

Thermal Conductivity

Red Brass: Consistent thermal conductivity, which does not change significantly with temperature. Utilized in applications such as heat exchangers and radiators.

Yellow Brass: Thermal conductivity increases with temperature. Suitable for applications where this characteristic is advantageous.

Corrosion Resistance

Red Brass: Outstanding corrosion resistance, particularly in water applications. Often used for underground service lines and plumbing due to its longevity.

Yellow Brass: Good corrosion resistance, but may be prone to dezincification in certain environments. A thin protective patina forms when exposed to the atmosphere, providing additional protection against corrosion.


Red Brass: Highly durable with good retention of spring properties. Can maintain functionality with minimal maintenance under normal operating conditions.

Yellow Brass: Also durable but may require more maintenance to prevent corrosion, depending on the environment.


Red Brass: With a higher copper content, red brass typically has a higher density. Copper’s density is about 8.96 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³). Since red brass is roughly 85% copper, its density will be closer to that of pure copper but slightly reduced by the presence of zinc. The density of red brass is approximately 8.4 to 8.7 g/cm³.

Yellow Brass: This alloy has a lower copper content and a higher proportion of zinc, which has a density of around 7.14 g/cm³. Therefore, yellow brass will have a lower density than red brass due to its higher zinc content. The density of yellow brass is typically in the range of 8.3 to 8.5 g/cm³.

Red Brass: Common uses include fittings, nozzles, architectural fascia, marine hardware, door handles, and musical instruments like trombones.

Yellow Brass: Utilized for applications such as automotive parts, electrical connectors, plumbing components, decorative items, and also in musical instruments like saxophones.

Red Brass: More expensive because of the higher copper content. Often recycled, adding value to scrap materials.

Yellow Brass: Less expensive but price can vary with market conditions for copper and zinc. Requires purification when recycled due to the presence of additional metals.

How To Tell Red Brass from Yellow Brass?

To distinguish between red brass and yellow brass, you can:

Yellow Brass vs Red Brass, Which One To Choose?

Considerations for Choosing Between Red and Yellow Brass:

Red brass and yellow brass are both popular materials with distinct qualities that make them suitable for different uses. Red brass is favored for its durability and corrosion resistance, making it ideal for plumbing and high-quality applications. Yellow brass, with its bright appearance and good machinability, is often chosen for decorative purposes and components requiring moderate strength.

When selecting between the two, consider the specific needs of your project, including the desired properties, application environment, and budget constraints. By understanding their differences, you can make an informed decision to ensure the success and longevity of your end product. If you are looking for brass machining services, contact us to get the best suggestion!