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Which metals are magnetic?

  Tuesday, 21 September 2021

First things first: magnetic materials are always made of metal, but not all metals are magnetic. To take iron as an example, iron is one of the metals that is classed as magnetic, so any metal that contains iron will be magnetic too. That’s why steel, which contains iron, will be attracted to a magnet.

Most other metals, for example aluminium, copper, and gold, are not magnetic.

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What creates magnetism in metals?

Metals can be magnetic in three ways:

  • permanently
  • temporarily
  • electromagnetically

Permanent magnetic metals are that way due to their internal makeup. They are made of ferromagnetic materials that do not stop producing their magnetic field.

Temporary magnets, as the name suggests, only stay that way under certain conditions, only becoming magnetic when a strong magnetic field is present.

A good example of this is a paperclip. If you put a permanent magnet around a bunch of paperclips, every paperclip becomes a temporary magnet attracting others to them. Once the permanent magnet is taken away, the paperclips lose their magnetic properties.

Electromagnets produce magnetic fields when an electric current passes through them. For example, motors, generators, relays, and even headphones all use electromagnets.

Magnetism and electricity

Like an electric current, magnetism is caused by electrons at an elementary level, much like an electric current. In fact, the relationship between electricity and magnetism has led to many devices and applications. It can be turned on and off at the switch of a button, making it extremely useful for car manufacturers who use this technology in engines.

Electric current is capable of creating magnetic fields and vice versa. When an electric current passes through a wire, it creates a circular magnetic field around the wire. If a magnetic field comes close to a good conductor of electricity, electric currents start flowing in the conductor.

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