How much is brass per pound, per ounce, per ton? The answer is included in the article as well as everything else you may wonder about selling/recycling brass. Brass is fairly common yet fairly valuable. The cost of brass per pound of course depends on what kind of brass scrap you’re ready to sell. Which is why we’ve included all types of brass so you can very accurately determine how much the brass you have in mind is worth.
What This Article Covers:
What is Brass?
Scrap Brass Prices per Pound, Ounce, Ton
Identifying Brass Types Such as Yellow Brass, Red Brass, Etc.
The Value of Brass Compared to Other Metals
Where to Sell Brass
Identifying Valuable Brass Objects
What is Brass?
Brass is a metal alloy, or solid solution. In layman’s terms, that means brass is a mixture of metals. Copper, like gold, silver, and tin, is rather soft on its own. However, combining copper with another metal, specifically zinc, creates brass, which is harder than pure iron. Not only is brass harder than either pure copper or pure iron, but it stands up to harsh weather conditions better than iron as well.
Who first figured out that combining copper with zinc created a stronger alloy metal? Up until the eighteenth century, working with zinc was difficult because it boils at a lower temperature than the temperature required for smelting. Nonetheless, some ancient civilizations figured out ways to make brass, such as melting copper with calamine ore, which contained zinc. At high temperatures, the zinc in the calamine ore vaporized, infusing the copper and creating brass.
Where Can You Find Scrap Brass for Recycling?
Today, common items made with brass include:
- Musical instruments (it has great acoustic properties)
Outside of its practical functions, brass is sometimes used solely because of its bright, attractive appearance for buttons, light fixtures, doorknobs, sculptures, and other decorative artworks.
How to Identify Brass
Yellow brass is the most common type of this alloy. However, there are several types of cast brass:
- Yellow and leaded yellow: Contain from 20 to 40 percent zinc and has an attractive color
- Red and leaded red: Alloys of copper, zinc, tin or lead
- Semi red and leaded semi red
- High strength and leaded high-strength yellow (or manganese) brass: High-tensile brass commonly used for mechanical products requiring strength and wear resistance
- Silicon brasses: A lower melting point makes this brass great for permanent mold and pressure die casting
- Tin brass: Strong with good corrosion resistance
Sometimes scrap brass is identifiable by its form. For instance, pipe valves, fluid manifolds, decorative pieces, and musical instruments are commonly made with brass. Another low-tech means of identifying brass is a regular common magnet, which will not stick to pure brass.
How Much is Brass Worth?
Several factors affect brass prices, including the world economic market. Most brass is made from scrap copper. Since copper is such a large component of brass, changes in copper prices may affect the price of brass. In the past 10 years, copper reached its lowest price ($1.27) in December 2008 and its highest price ($4.57) in January 2011. Since then, there has been a general decline in copper prices.
Another important consideration in determining the price of brass is the quality and purity of the metal. The vast majority of brass sold in the U.S. is recycled brass, but there are always concerns about inadvertent contamination of scrap brass with other metals such as steel, tin, and iron. Contamination can affect both the machinability (the ease with which material can be cut) and strength of brass.
The type and form of brass also affect its price. The metals industry uses different designations in creating specifications for metals, including CDA (Copper Development Association), ASTM, Federal, and Military designations.
March 2017 brass prices (sourced from Scrap Register, according to West Coast price indices):
- Yellow Brass: $1.78 per pound, $0.11 per ounce, $3,560 per ton
- Brass Radiator: $1.71 per pound, $0.11 per ounce, $3,420 per ton
- Iron Brass Radiator: $1.28 per pound, $0.08 per ounce, $2,560 per ton
- Mix Red Brass: $1.86 per pound, $0.12 per ounce, $3,720 per ton
- Mix Yellow Brass Borings: $1.62 per pound, $0.10 per ounce, $3,240 per ton
Other formats cost even more. A 12” x 12” x 1” solid brass plate (about 44.4 lbs.) may cost close to $600.00.
Brass is a mid-level commodity at metal scrap yards: it’s worth more than aluminum or steel, but less than copper. However, specific prices vary day to day, even at local scrapyards. Comparing prices at local yards requires a phone call or two, or, if it’s posted, checking out the rates on the scrapyards’ website.
Where to Sell Brass
Most scrapyards will gladly pay for brass. The price varies according to the condition and types of brass involved, as well as local demand and current prices for new refined brass. Most yards prefer receiving large or bulk lots of metal instead of a few small pieces, because the scrapyards are able to convert large lots into more money per pound than they can get with smaller individual pieces.
Payment procedures for scrap brass may vary from state to state. Most states will only issue a check or a money order, not cash, for non-ferrous metal (i.e. non-magnetic, including brass). Some states may implement a holding period of two days or more after the sale is made before issuing payment. The delay is part of an effort to reduce the sale of stolen items. As with any transaction, ask the buyer questions and make sure you understand the process so you have a clear expectation of how the sale will work.
If selling to a scrapyard doesn’t appeal to you, or if you don’t have one near your town, there are other options for selling brass. Search for online forums for gun enthusiasts or metal collectors and look for posts about people looking to purchase scrap brass. In the same vein, check out any local gun clubs for information on selling. Beyond that, there is always Craig’s List and eBay — although considering how heavy brass is, shipping costs may be prohibitive for most customers.
Identifying Valuable Brass Objects
Sometimes the value of an object depends less upon the metal used to make it and more upon design features and artistic value. Additionally, the age of the item affects value.
Antique brass refers to items at least 100 years old. eBay offers an extensive reference guide for antique brass, which is a valuable resource for sellers or buyers. Popular antique brass items include:
- Candle holders
- Figurines and statues
- Platters and trays
- Nautical equipment
- Fireplace accessories
- Clocks and pocket watches
Depending upon the rarity and condition of the item, antique brass can demand substantial prices that far exceed those for scrap. However, be wary of items that just look old. Plenty of patinas that mimic the appearance of brass are simply painted on, usually over brass plate. Other telltale signs of fake antique brass items include:
- Statues attached to a base
- Metal tags and plates.
- Signatures of unknown artists or deliberately unreadable signatures
- Powder-like debris or dried paste in recessed areas
Any of these may indicate that a would-be antique is actually rather new, and far less valuable than the legitimate item.
Solid brass items are worth much more than brass plate items. A magnet will not adhere to an item made of solid brass, while it will adhere to brass plate. Another means for identifying brass plate is making a small scratch in an inconspicuous place on the object. A shiny yellow scratch usually means the item is solid brass, whereas a silvery scratch means it is made of some other metal beneath the plate. Brass shell casings can also be recycled for money.
The United States exports a great deal of scrap metal, including brass. One benefit of recycling brass is the reduction of ore drilling worldwide. Closer to home, recycling brass means less reusable materials going into landfills.
There are many different categories of scrap brass, including:
- Refinery brass
- Mixed brass and bronze
- Scrap red brass solids
- Red brass turnings
- Scrap old yellow brass
- New brass clips scrap
- Yellow brass turnings
- Clean and unclean scrap auto radiators
- Unclean scrap auto radiators
- Scrap manganese bronze solids and turnings
- Clean brass wire scrap
Identifying the type of brass you own helps in two ways: obtaining the best price, and finding the best recycling opportunities. To that end, some websites provide photographs and descriptions of different scrap metal they accept, including the conditions of different metals.
Recycling brass may take a little extra effort, but it’s worth it not only for the environmental benefit but also because of the potential to make a little money by doing it. A reputable recycler or scrap metal dealer not only knows the fair price for scrap brass, but also is more likely to properly recycle or repurpose the metal. You can find a nationwide directory of scrapyards here.
Scrap Brass Prices per Pound, Ounce, Ton: Final Thoughts
Depending on form, age, and condition, the value of brass per pound is typically worth more than aluminum or steel, but less than pure copper. Solid brass is worth significantly more than brass plate. Before you sell your brass items for scrap, make sure you’re not letting go of a valuable antique that could be worth much more. Scrap brass prices pale in comparison to the value of many brass antiques. Prices for brass fluctuate daily, so it’s hard to say just how much the brass in your garage or attic is worth — but with a little research and the resources in this article, there’s plenty of opportunity to make some money with your old brass items.