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Q & A: magnetic brass?

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Most recent answer: 05/07/2012
Q:
is brass magnetic?
- robert beale (age 41)
albuquerque,nm
A:
No, brass (a copper-zinc alloy) is not magnetic. I don't think that any common variants of it, with some other elements included, are magnetic either.

Mike W.

(published on 11/20/2011)

Follow-Up #1: iron-coated brass?

Q:
I have a very old drafting table that the base looked to be cast iron. Recently it was nicked in several places and under the black lookes to be solid brass. Can brass be magnetic? The table is very heavy and was built to be attached to the floor to allow the tables height and angles to be changed by pressing foot bars.
- gay martin (age 55)
hickory creek, TX USA
A:
This sounds like the reverse of the usual situation, in which cheap iron is coated in brass. At any rate, brass would be too weakly paramagnetic to notice testing with a hand-held magnet.

Is it possible that you have some unusual alloy with enough of some non-copper element to form a blackish surface corrosion, reminiscent of cast iron?

Mike W.

(published on 02/17/2012)

Follow-Up #2: magnetic brass?

Q:
I have a solid brass item (I think) that has a very slight attraction to a very strong magnet (it can lift 13 oz.). I can barely feel attraction when I pull the magnet back. Could the brass have some iron contamination and if so, how common is this in brass?
- A Ralston (age 48)
Knoxville TN USA
A:
A quick search on the web suggests that other people may have seen something similar. I guess you can have small iron or nickel inclusions in some brass.

Mike W.

(published on 05/07/2012)

Follow-up on this answer.