Why or why not does brass rust?

Brass is an extremely common metal alloy. It’s used to make decorations, guitar strings, and other musical instruments, as well as furniture and equipment. You might wonder, “Does brass rust?” because it is so widely used.

In this essay, I’ll respond to that question, as well as a few others that may occur.

Is brass prone to rust? No, the simple answer is no. Brass is a non-corrosive metal. Rust is caused by an interaction between the metal inside the alloy and the environment around it. Rust cannot form on brass because it lacks the necessary metal. As a result, it does not rust. Brass, on the other hand, tarnishes as a result of oxidation and develops a blackish, greenish layer on its surface.

In the essay, I’ll go through why brass doesn’t rust in further depth. Also, state whether it corrodes as a result of other factors. Also included is a more in-depth examination of the metals that make up brass.

Also, I’ll go over a few simple ways you may use to brighten up any brass you have at home that has become tarnished over time.

Brass Doesn’t Rust, So Why Doesn’t It?

The absence of iron is the major reason why brass does not rust. The oxidation of iron causes rust to form.

This occurs when the iron is exposed to water and oxygen. However, because brass is devoid of iron, iron oxide (rust) cannot form on it.

Brass is a copper-zinc alloy with a high melting point. They do not rust, unlike iron.

The amount of copper or zinc utilised in the metal, on the other hand, might make it stronger or weaker. Brass has the distinct advantage of not rusting. But what about the rest of the effects?

So, What Happens to Brass?

Metal is affected by more than just rust. In reality, just because brass resists rust doesn’t mean it’s immune to other consequences.

Corrosion is a problem for brass.

Brass does not rust, but it does not mean it will not corrode.

Corrosion and rust are two terms that some people confuse. This is incorrect; rust is a corrosive agent for iron. It’s only one type of corrosion. Copper, like iron, is corrosive.

Brass corrodes mostly when copper or tin present in the metal is exposed to water.

Instead of rusting, the copper or tin reacts with the water and changes colour. As a result, splotches of pinkish or reddish colour may appear on the surface.

This is mostly a worry for tools and other items that are frequently exposed to water. Brass pipes are another example. These would be in contact with water on a regular basis. As a result, crimson or pinkish splotches should appear on the surface.

Brass Oxidation is a term used to describe the process of oxidising brass

I discussed how brass may corrode when exposed to water. But what happens if you’re exposed to oxygen for an extended period of time? Is it true that brass oxidises like iron but does not rust? Yes, brass oxidises over time. Brass oxidises because of the zinc it contains.

Brass oxidation can be either a beneficial or negative thing. On brass, oxidation can aid in the prevention of additional corrosion. However, the surface of the brass becomes less desirable as a result of this.

Brass’ structural integrity can be harmed by oxidation. Because the zinc in brass can be destroyed by oxidation. Zinc is primarily responsible for the strength of brass. As a result, oxidation can cause brass to deteriorate.

The effects of oxidation are readily apparent. A flaky black, blue, or green film will form on the surface of the metal.

What is the Composition of Brass?

The term “alloy brass” refers to a metal that is made up of several different metals. This is done to compensate for some of the properties that each metal may lack by using another element.

I’ll go over some of the most commonly utilised metals for producing brass alloys in this article.


When it comes to creating brass, copper is the most significant ingredient. It is the most important part of brass. In today’s world, it accounts for almost 67 percent of the total. Copper has a lot to offer brass. That’s why it accounts for the majority of it.

Copper imparts to brass a low bacterial habitability, which is one of its most recognised features.

Brass can be used to build medical equipment because of this property. As well as doorknobs and any other surface you’ll be touching frequently. As a result, the risk of illness spreading is reduced.


Another important metal used to make brass is zinc, which accounts for 33% of the total. Zinc gives brass its strength and resiliency. As a result, a higher zinc content could result in a more solid alloy.

Brass’s strength allows metal to be utilised in water pipes and bolts to keep them in place. These pipes, unlike normal pipes, will not rust or break.

The addition of zinc to brass improves its ductility. This implies it may be shaped into thin wire while yet maintaining its strength and endurance. As a result, brass gains even more advantages.


Lead is one of the metals added to brass in a very small amount. Only about 2% of the total brass is made up of brass. Lead, on the other hand, isn’t always present in brass. However, it is included in order to acquire additional benefits.

Lead can be added to brass to reinforce it and make it easier to work with in the manufacturing process. As a result, mass manufacture of brass-based goods will be a lot easier.

Another advantage of lead for brass is that it improves corrosion resistance. It can even offer pressure tightness to brass. It accomplishes this by sealing the pores that have shrunk as a result of the shrinkage.

The table below shows the brass composition. Depending on the need for brass, a few other metals are added in modest amounts.

Taking Care of Tarnished Brass

Brass can become tarnished due to oxidation and corrosion. That isn’t to say it can’t be rectified. Before you do anything else, you should figure out what kind of brass you’re working with. If it’s brass plated or made of solid brass.

Identifying tarnished brass plating and cleaning it

A simple magnet can be used to determine this. It should be placed against the brass item. It’s solid brass if it doesn’t stick to it. If it does stick, though, it is almost certainly brass plated. It’s simple to clean a brass-plated decoration or tool.

All you have to do is scrub it with soap and hot water. When scrubbing, be careful not to use anything abrasive. You don’t want to scratch the plating off.

Lacquer Removal from Solid Brass

Cleaning solid brass, on the other hand, is a little more difficult. To begin with, they normally have a layer of lacquer put to them. Before you can clean it thoroughly, you must first remove the lacquer.

Submerge it for a few minutes in hot water, then cool it and submerge it again. The lacquer covering may begin to peel as a result of this. After that, use your fingernails to try to scrape it off.

Getting Rid of Tarnish on Solid Brass

To clean it after the lacquer has been removed, immerse it in hot soapy water. After that, scrape off any remaining filth and dust using an old toothbrush. After that, rinse and dry it to begin the process of removing the tarnish.

To form a paste, combine baking soda and white vinegar. This paste may bubble for a few moments before settling down. You’ve got your paste now. Use a brush or your hand to apply it to the brass object’s surface.

Allow for 30 minutes of rest after thoroughly applying the paste. After 30 minutes, rinse the paste with water and wipe it dry with a cloth. The tarnished appearance should go away, and the previous, polished sheen should reap reappearance.

If there is still tarnish on it, repeat the technique until you achieve the desired effect. This works because the acid in the vinegar and the sodium in the baking soda combine to dissolve the tarnish in a chemical process.

The linked video demonstrates how to clean tarnished brass.

Brass’s Most Common Applications

Because brass does not rust, it can be used in a wide variety of applications. Brass receives useful characteristics from copper, zinc, and lead, as I described earlier.

Let’s take a look at some of the places where brass can be used.

Instruments of Music

Musical instruments are one of the most prevalent uses of brass. This is owing to the fact that it is both malleable and corrosion-resistant.

It’s also an excellent choice for building any musical instrument because bacteria can’t easily grow on it.


When it comes to decorating, brass is a popular choice. It will not rush and leave an unsightly mark, unlike other metals.

Its colour ranges from a bright goldish or silver hue to a deeper reddish tint. Because of its adaptability, you can do more with it when it comes to decorating.


Brass tools are particularly popular due of their durability and lifespan. They are not easily corroded or rusted. Brass bolts are also extremely robust, ensuring a secure fit.


“Does Brass Rust?” is the basic question that brought you to this page. And I responded with an explanation of why brass does not rust. In addition, go into detail about the various consequences it has. As well as the material that brass is made of.

I hope you learned something new from this article. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Goodbye and best wishes.

Read more: Is NH4Cl an Ionic or a Covalent Compound?

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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