Bronze is an alloy that helps make copper more useful. Copper on its own is highly malleable, resistant to corrosion and thermal, but it is also very soft. Mixing it with tin makes it much more durable and also improves its malleability and its resistance to corrosion.
The levels of copper and tin in bronze vary. Typical proportions in alloys are 90 percent copper and 10 percent tin. In modern production, other materials are also frequently used to make bronze. Adding 1 to 2 percent phosphorus helps strengthen the metal, which makes it a more durable material for things like pipes and valves. Some bronze metals add other metals such as iron or nickel. Others use zinc, aluminum or manganese in place of tin.
Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures were the first to use bronze. These cultures created the alloy to make tools and weapons. It was widely used in the ancient world until about 1,000 B.C., when iron became a common metal for making tools and weapons. Bronze is harder and more durable than iron, but iron is a much more common metal than either copper or tin. However, bronze production still continued throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern day. Modern uses of bronze include instruments, coins, springs, valves and medals.Learn more about Geology