Are Magnets Metal? The Truth Explained For Science Lovers | Kidadl


Are Magnets Metal? The Truth Explained For Science Lovers

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All types of magnets are known to be made of rare earth elements, specifically a group of special metals that are called ferromagnetic metals.

Metals with magnetic properties are nickel, copper, and iron. These metals naturally possess the property of being magnetized to create a permanent magnet.

The most common way to induce magnetic properties in metal is through heating these metals to their Curie temperature. When a piece of iron is rubbed along with a magnet, the electrons of the atoms in the iron line up in one direction. The force generated by this alignment of atoms creates a magnetic field. This piece of iron becomes magnetic as a result.

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about why magnets attract metal or abacus facts?

Composition Of Magnets

A magnet is an object that has the ability to produce a magnetic field.

A magnetic field is an invisible property. This is a force that pulls on other ferromagnetic materials. This magnetic property can be seen in magnetic metals like iron,  nickel, steel, copper-cobalt. These metals behave like magnets, attracting or repelling other magnets.

We can call an object a permanent magnet when it gets magnetized and then creates its own permanent magnetic field. A very common day-to-day magnet that we all have seen is a refrigerator door magnet, which is usually made of powdered ferrite (iron rusting). They are sometimes made of aluminum. Another common use of magnets around us is electric motors.

Materials that can be magnetized are called ferromagnetic materials. These metals are magnetic and include nickel, iron, cobalt, copper, and iron alloy. You may include most other metals in this category. Some alloys of rare-earth elements and iron oxide can be naturally-occurring, permanent magnets. All metals are magnetic in nature.

We know that ferromagnetic materials are attracted to other magnets. There can be an external magnetic field near soft magnets or diamagnetic materials.

Ferromagnetic materials are soft magnets, like annealed iron. These can easily be magnetized, but they fail to stay magnetized for a long time. Hard magnets are materials that can be magnetized and remain magnetized for a long time.

Permanent magnets are hard magnets. They are made up of ferromagnetic materials like alnico and ferrite. When these metals are subjected to a special process under the influence of a strong magnetic field, they align their internal structure in one direction. The electric currents make a permanent magnet that is hard to demagnetize. When metals cross a curie temperature, they become permanent magnets.

If there is a need to demagnetize a saturated magnet, we have to apply certain magnetic fields. The strength of this magnetic field depends on the coercivity of the material. Hard permanent magnets have high coercivity, like cobalt. For a soft magnet, the coercivity is low.

The strength of a magnet can be measured by its magnetic moment. Another method is to measure the total magnetic flux produced by it.

Electromagnets are man-made. An electromagnet is a coil of wire that behaves like a magnet when you pass an electric current through it. However, it stops being a magnet as soon as the current stops. This coil is often wrapped around a core to enhance the magnetic field generated. The core is made of soft ferromagnetic material like stainless steel. These electromagnets have all magnetic properties.

Reason Why Magnets Have A Magnetic Field

Magnets are materials that attract other magnetic materials towards themselves or repel them completely.

Magnetism is caused in a metal due to the motion of electric charges in it. We know that substances are made up of atoms. Each atom has some electrons; these are the particles that carry electric charges. One model shows that, spinning like tops on an axis, electrons make a circular motion around the nucleus, also known as the core of an atom. The movement of electrons generates an electric current that further results in every individual electron acting as a magnet at a microscopic level. These are electromagnets.

A magnetic field is the peripheral area of a magnet, having a magnetic force. Magnetism is the force that magnets exert to attract or repel each other. The direction of these electrons is aligned in the case of a bar magnet.

In most non-magnetic metals, equal numbers of electrons usually spin in opposite directions. Thus the magnetism is canceled out. That is why non-magnetic metals or materials like cloth or paper are not magnetic. It is interesting to note that, if you leave or rub paper clips on a magnet, they will show magnetic effects for some time. These are induced magnetic fields and magnetic properties.

When a metal is to be magnetized, another stronger magnetic substance with a powerful existing magnetic field is needed. This magnetic field creates a magnetic force that in turn rotates electrons in one direction, increasing the magnetism of the metal. So, metals are magnetic due to free electrons.

It is a proven fact that magnets have two poles: south and north poles. Opposite poles are attracted to each other, whereas the same poles are known to repel each other.

In another method, a few substances can be made into magnets using an electric current. This magnetism is temporary. When electricity is passed through a coil of wire, a magnetic field is generated. This magnetic field around the coil of wire shall disappear as soon as the electricity is turned off. These are called electromagnets.

Electromagnets are metals that, in their natural state, are not magnets. Are magnets metals, then?

Magnets Used To Separate Different Types Of Metal

Magnets are most commonly used in recycling industrial equipment. They are used to separate magnetic and non-magnetic materials.

Magnets are mostly used in the recycling process. Strong industrial strength magnets are brought to identify and separate different metals. These magnetic separators aim at separating out non-ferrous metal objects, such as aluminum, in soda cans. These bottles or cans are removed from the pile of other ferrous metals like iron. However, magnets do not repel iron.

Magnetic separators in junkyard cranes are key equipment in a single-stream recycling unit. Individuals do not separate materials by hand; a machine does the separation before going to a recycling center. The smallest thing, like a paper clip, can also be separated using this technology. Magnets are strategically placed above conveyor belts.

High-powered magnets complete their job of removing ferrous and steel recyclables. However, there is more to it. An eddy current is used to repel non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum cans, in a separate place, further removing them from other non-magnetic materials like plastic.

Thus, we can say that a magnetic separator is a huge magnet put to use for the purpose of removal of impurities and other materials attracted to magnets. Magnetic separators are generally used before production to clean raw material and afterward to remove any waste from the final product. These huge magnets can be adjusted in terms of power to attract different types of magnetic materials by changing the intensity of the magnetic field at various positions over the conveyer belt.

Another well-known use of magnets is in the manufacture of electric motors or wind turbines.

What metal are magnets made of?

Permanent magnets are those that occur naturally or are man-made.

The materials used to make such permanent magnets can be ceramic, gadolinium, iron, cobalt, nickel, and neodymium. While, for industrial manufacturing, steel is a less expensive option.

Magnetic common metals generally include iron, nickel, cobalt, and copper, along with alloys of rare Earth metals. Most metals are not made of 100% aluminum.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our article about whether magnets are metal, then why not take a look at our articles on Abigail Adams or Viking runes?

Written By
Sakshi Thakur

<p>Sakshi is a skilled content writer with extensive experience in the education industry. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for helping others, she has developed a reputation for excellence in academic content writing. She has worked with esteemed professionals such as Mr. Kapil Raj, a professor of History of Science at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, further enhancing her knowledge and expertise. Sakshi is well-versed in the latest developments in e-learning and has a deep understanding of how to engage students and make learning fun and accessible. In her spare time, she indulges in her creative passions, including painting, embroidery, and listening to soft music. She also enjoys exploring new cultures and traveling, which helps her broaden her perspectives and inspire her writing. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Panjab University.</p>

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