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Is it Brass or Stainless Steel?

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  1. #1
    philshark2 started this thread.
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    Is it Brass or Stainless Steel?

    Hey all, I recently acquired a few faucets I finished taking them apart and I did a scratch test to identify the faucets. First few scratches revealed a layer of copper, but further scratching revealed white metal. I hit it with a grinder and no sparks came out, so I am having doubts that it is stainless steel. Please help me identify these faucets.

    Last edited by philshark2; 02-08-2018 at 11:53 PM.


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    since brass is much more expensive than s/steel, i would just put it into my brass lot and forget about it.

    its highly unlikely that ts any other metal
    and besides, its already damaged by the grinder so its not like u can resell it

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    hills's Avatar
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    It's NOT common ... but sometimes faucets are made of platinum. I only saw platinum faucets used on one high end job during the 30 years i was in the trade but they are out there. Nickel might be another possibility for the white metal underneath ?

    Any info on what kind of place the faucet came out of ? Maybe look on the faucet for brand name, model #, and any hallmarks ?

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    Looks like brass. The parts you ground look yellow.

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    looks like stainless with a brass coating?
    Better than the dump!

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    Some of the cheap-o faucets can be cast alum

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    I always assumed they were a mix of metals and were zinc based.

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    Cast aluminum. Stainless would be heavy and limited use in residential. File test: aluminum is soft, stainless is hard.

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    Cast aluminum in all likelihood. Take a nice deep cut with file. Shiny chrome on outside, then brass, then white and shiny again. The thin layer of brass is there for the chrome plating process I think. As was said above, you get a feel for the way a file digs into aluminum and skates across stainless.

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    It is a zinc based die cast metal. Many of the newer ones are die cast. I think technology and cost got to where the companies switched. 99% of consumers don't care anyway. Always great to get an older brass one. Aluminum is too reactive to water and will corrode out. Stainless isn't normally cast and is not machineable enough for mass production. The brass/copper layers are normally for the chrome plating process. Sometimes, depending on how they are set up internally, for instance the faucet will prob have a brass tube to the spigot while the handles or cover plate will be just die cast, the yard will buy them for brass breakage. It all depends on the component construction. Most faucets aren't terrible to take apart.

    While we are at it, I've seen a few comments on here and heard some on the street along the lines of "If I never learn what something really is, then it's ok to just throw it in the bucket I think it should be in"...I'm not ok with that personally. It's pretty unethical to me. It's ok to learn and ask questions. Sure, you might be disappointed. But probably just once. You won't keep thinking "wow this is a brass faucet" everytime only to have the yard burst your bubble. You will know to have tempered expectations and maybe get lucky. Frankly, if you learn, you can sometimes find things that are MORE valuable than you think. Those old coffee pots from the perculator days....just stainless right? WRONG. I've gotten more than one that looks as chromed out as 99% of the stainless ones only to file and find out it was copper...

    By the way, the resell on faucets, unless you just come across something incredibly vintage or TOP of the line is just awful. Sort of frustrating when you consider how much they cost...but, I guess it's like HVAC units...they know you only buy them a few times in your life at most, so got to keep the workers employed and the factory open somehow.
    Last edited by ozarksewaste; 02-10-2018 at 08:32 AM.

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    Hit it with a hammer die cast zinc will break, stainless will not.

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    There have been some trends in faucets over the last 20 years. The real cheapos are made of plastic and plated with chrome. There's an issue with brass because the lead in the alloy leaches out into the drinking water. The EPA has made such a fuss about all brass fittings that it's probably illegal to manufacture a brass faucet now.

    It used to be that a faucet was intended to last a very long time. Plumbers had the repair parts and knew how to replace washers, cartridges, and even valve seats. It took a bit of skill and specialized tools to install a faucet. That's all changed now. Maybe you get five years of use and then replace them with the ones from the big box stores. The faucets have been redesigned. They're not hard to change out. It's a lot more time efficient ( and profitable ) for a plumber to swap one out than it is to fiddle around with repair parts that might or might not get the job done right.

    Point being: You're less apt to see brass faucets these days. More likely something else once you scratch the surface.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hills View Post
    There have been some trends in faucets over the last 20 years. The real cheapos are made of plastic and plated with chrome. There's an issue with brass because the lead in the alloy leaches out into the drinking water. The EPA has made such a fuss about all brass fittings that it's probably illegal to manufacture a brass faucet now.

    It used to be that a faucet was intended to last a very long time. Plumbers had the repair parts and knew how to replace washers, cartridges, and even valve seats. It took a bit of skill and specialized tools to install a faucet. That's all changed now. Maybe you get five years of use and then replace them with the ones from the big box stores. The faucets have been redesigned. They're not hard to change out. It's a lot more time efficient ( and profitable ) for a plumber to swap one out than it is to fiddle around with repair parts that might or might not get the job done right.

    Point being: You're less apt to see brass faucets these days. More likely something else once you scratch the surface.
    Yep they say the plastic ones are the only faucets that are lead free...

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    I don't know much about plumbing, but I'm a expert when it comes the Steel taps..

    Yes, I'm a 'Ferrous Faucet Major.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by eesakiwi View Post
    I don't know much about plumbing, but I'm a expert when it comes the Steel taps..

    Yes, I'm a 'Ferrous Faucet Major.'
    Groan...

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    Others may not value this method but, holding the faucet by a thin edge, strike it with a small hammer or knock it against a metal surface. Aluminum clunks, steel chimes, copper hums, and brass rings. It's not 100% but, since I rarely have a grinder to test things offsite, this method lets me do some initial sorting, at least enough to know if it should or shouldn't go in the ferrous pile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Breakage View Post
    Others may not value this method but, holding the faucet by a thin edge, strike it with a small hammer or knock it against a metal surface. Aluminum clunks, steel chimes, copper hums, and brass rings. It's not 100% but, since I rarely have a grinder to test things offsite, this method lets me do some initial sorting, at least enough to know if it should or shouldn't go in the ferrous pile.
    good point,

    Sometimes i just drop mystery scrap pieces on the cement floor to determine what metal it is by the sound. Ding, Dong, whos at the door????


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