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A wire brush is a tool, consisting of a handle, usually wood or plastic, and a brush. The brush is usually made from a large number of steel wire bristles. The steel used is generally a high carbon variety and very hard. Other wire brushes feature bristles made from brass or stainless steel, depending on application. Wires in a wire brush can be held together by epoxy, staples, or in some cases one continuous wire. Some types of wire brushes can also be used on an angle grinder or electric drill.
The wire brush is primarily an abrasive implement, used for cleaning rust and removing paint. It is also used to clean surfaces and to create a better conductive area for attaching electrical connections, such as those between car battery posts and their connectors, should they accumulate a build-up of grime and dirt. When cleaning stainless steel, it is advisable to use a stainless steel bristle wire brush, as a plain carbon steel brush can contaminate the stainless steel and cause rust spots to appear. Brass bristle brushes are used on softer surfaces or in potentially flammable environments where non-sparking tools are required. Wire brushes are also used to clean the teeth of large animals, such as crocodiles and pigs. They are also used widely in surface engineering to clean the castings to paint the castings.
In rare cases, cleaning barbecue grills can cause bristles to break off the brush which then become deposited in food cooked on the grill. Ingestion of these bristles can cause gastrointestinal perforation.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2012). "Injuries from ingestion of wire bristles from grill-cleaning brushes - Providence, Rhode Island, March 2011-June 2012.". MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 61 (26): 490–2. PMID 22763887.
- Baugh TP, Hadley JB, Chang CW (2016). "Epidemiology of Wire-Bristle Grill Brush Injury in the United States, 2002-2014.". Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 154 (4): 645–9. doi:10.1177/0194599815627794. PMID 26932965.