Understanding Brass

WHAT IS BRASS?

Brass is a yellow alloy of copper and zinc. Copper can be contained in greater or lesser quantities. For example 'Rose Brass' fashionable in late Victorian times, contained more copper thus having a slightly pinker rather than yellow tinge. Generally, Brass is a gold colour with a slight darker tone.

Brass has been used in Britain since the later part of the first millennium BC. Its popularity has been due to its fantastic usability for the handler and also its excellent durability and ability to withstand exposure to weather. Over the centuries it has been used to make anything from ironmongery and hardware to musical instruments, weapons, cartridge cases, pipes and boat fixtures.

WILL BRASS CORRODE?

Often, products purporting to be Brass are actually a thin plating of Brass on steel. Steel rusts and so the products will corrode once the Brass plating has worn down.

However, our Brass at Willow & Stone is cast solid Brass rather than plated. Therefore even if it has tarnished over time, a little polish and a fair bit of elbow grease will return the brass to it’s former glory. Click here to read more about Brass maintenance.

WHY WE ONLY SELL UNLACQUERED BRASS

We have chosen to only sell unlacquered Brass. Lacquer is a thin coating of a varnish type product which is used to protect the Brass from oxidising and thus avoiding it tarnishing (dulling down). However, we believe that the process of tarnishing allows for a far more authentic finish, perfect for traditional Brassware.

Not only that, lacquer generally begins to wear off after a couple of years (in fact much quicker in salty environments) and once it starts flaking off you will have difficulty cleaning the product as the lacquered areas will remain shiny and slightly more ‘yellow’ in appearance. The product will look unsightly at this point as the finish will be so uneven. You can easily keep your unlacquered Brass nice and shiny - use a good quality brass cleaner such as Brasso and always use a clean soft cloth that hasn’t had any other cleaning products on it.

WILL MY BRASS TARNISH?

Yes! But do not confuse the tarnishing for corrosion. The more residue, pollution or salt that is in the air, the quicker the Brass will tarnish and dull down. If you like your Brass clean and shiny it will need more regular cleaning. Personally we are very happy to let our Brass tarnish to a darker patina - a light polish to the edges every once in a while (we choose to use Brasso) helps to define the pattern.

So although your solid Brass unlacquered product will dull down over time, you can be confident that you can restore a lovely shine with a little polish and effort, and don’t need to worry about corrosion. Brass has been used for door furniture for hundreds of years with good reason! Purchase good quality solid brass now, and it will last a life time.

Click here to read more about Brass maintenance