What Is the Element Symbol for Brass?

Brass is an alloy of metals, not a single element. Therefore it has no element symbol.
Brass is an alloy of metals, not a single element. Therefore it has no element symbol. Qing Zhou / EyeEm / Getty Images

It's easy to get confused about the difference between elements and alloys. Some people wonder what the element symbol for brass is. The answer is that there is no element symbol for brass because it consists of a mixture of metals or an alloy. Brass is a copper alloy (element symbol Cu), usually with zinc (Zn). Sometimes other metals are combined with copper to make brass.

The only time a substance has an element symbol is when it contains only one type of atom, all having the same number of protons.

If a substance contains more than one kind of atom (more than one element), it may be represented by a chemical formula made up of element symbols, but not by a single symbol. In the case of brass, the copper and zinc atoms form metallic bonds, so there isn't really a chemical formula. Thus, there is no symbol.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is the Element Symbol for Brass?" ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/element-symbol-for-brass-604004. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, December 6). What Is the Element Symbol for Brass? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/element-symbol-for-brass-604004 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Is the Element Symbol for Brass?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/element-symbol-for-brass-604004 (accessed January 21, 2018).