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Why Brass Is the Best for Hose Barb Fittings

Lead free compression fittings

Hose barb fittings are useful connectors that allow you to combine multiple hoses or repair damaged ones with very little effort. But as you’re looking at your options for them, you might see that hose barb fittings — as well as various other valves and fittings, such as compression fittings — come in a variety of materials. Which should you choose? If all you care about is price, then by all means go with plastic. But if you want the best value, then brass is probably your best option. Why is brass used so often for these types of fittings? It all comes down this alloy’s unique combination of two important properties: workability and durability.


Workability doesn’t refer to your ability to do work with brass, although that’s certainly true as well. In this context, workability refers to brass’ ability to be worked, its malleability. Brass, composed as it is of both copper and zinc, can be shaped into a wide variety of forms with relatively little effort. That means it’s useful in a wide variety of applications (everything from humble hose barb fittings all the way to musical instruments, for example), but also keeps it relatively affordable.


The other characteristic of brass that makes it so useful in applications such as valves and fittings is that it’s very durable when compared to its workability; normally, you have to sacrifice one in order to get the other when choosing a metal or alloy. In order to harden brass even further, lead is often added to it in low concentrations — around 2% — which makes it very strong. You just have to be sure to use lead free brass in any system involving potable water (although it’s very unlikely that high levels of lead will leach into drinking water, it’s always better to err on the safe side).

Have you worked with brass fittings or other brass parts in the past? Share your experiences in the comments.

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