View Full Version : Nickel Content of Brass and Copper?

08-13-2004, 09:01 PM
Hello, all!

I hope that this hasn't been posted before, but I searched and didn't find anything.

I'm allergic to nickel, and am doing wirework. Sterling silver doesn't make me break out, or when I'm working with it, doesn't make my hands itch. But, sterling silver wire can get expensive when I keep making mistakes!

I bought some brass wire, and it doesn't seem to make my hands itch. That would be great wire to practice with, and I could possibly make things to sell. However, I do not want to sell anything that would may nickel-allergic people break out.

Does anyone know the nickel content of brass and copper? Do you know of any resources where I could get nickel-free jewelry wire that is not sterling silver?

Thanks a lot!!


08-13-2004, 09:47 PM
Pure copper is an element not an alloy, so that shouldn't contain any nickel.
Brass is an alloy of Copper and Zinc. The exact quantity of Zinc which is added can be varied depending on what the alloy is to be used for. However tin NICKEL and lead may also be added to further modify the properties. So for brass it may or may not have it, you would have to check with a supplier as to the exact content. Fiona

08-14-2004, 10:11 AM
Hi Liz, I recently found some really neat brass fingings. Email me at [email protected] and I will find out what teh manufacturer says about the copper and brass. BTW silver is a by product of copper mining too! Go figure :rolleyes:


07-20-2006, 04:43 AM
I've been looking for information on nickel content of copper and brass wire without any luck. I found this old with the perfect title, so I decided to ask about it here. I have a million people asking me if my copper jewellery contains nickel, and I really don't know how to response. Here in Finland we have laws about how much nickel something worn as jewellery can contain, and I wouldn't like to break any rules...

So - does anyone know if brass or copper wire contain nickel - and if they do, how much is there?

07-20-2006, 03:41 PM
Oppi Untracht in his book Metal Techniques for Craftsmen states that copper produced electrolytically (the most common method) contains oxygen to increase its strength. Deoxidised copper contains high residual phosphorus.
Copper is used in many alloys, brass being one of them. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, the proportions vary depending on the type of brass. He does not mention the potential presence of nickel in either metal.
If you are seriously worried about minute traces of nickel then contact your metal supplier and ask, this will cover you legally.
Personally I would never use a base metal for earwires, even if plated.

07-20-2006, 03:48 PM
Thanks, Claire :). I never use base metals for earwires either - I always use sterling silver for that purpose. I did ask one of the copper and brass wire suppliers and their wires didn't contain nickel - but the problem is I haven't found one supplier for all wire sizes, and I can't always tell who the actual manufacturer for certain wire is...But I guess I'll just have to try to find out.

07-21-2006, 12:12 AM
Brass and copper do not contain nickel as far as I can find. "Bright" aluminum (5356 alloy) is also nickel free as are titanium and niobium.

316L stainless steel, while containing nickel, is used for suture staples, surgical pins, plates, etc.. Apparently the nickel bonds with the chromium and this reaction prevents, or greatly reduces, the chance of contact dermatitis even in nickel sensitized people.

I made my nickel sensitive niece an anklet from 316L stainless and she has no problems wearing it.