Can it Be Done? How To Reverse The Polarity of a Magnet!

After learning about the polarity of magnets in my recent research, I started to wonder if it is possible to actually reverse the poles on a magnet. So, I did some more reading to find out if and how this can be done and came up with a quick guide to help others who might have the same question that I did.

Can you reverse the polarity of a magnet? The polarity of a magnet actually can be reversed, but the process can take several tries before it is finally successful. In order to reverse the polarity of a regular magnet, you need the power of a battery and a coil of copper. For an electromagnet, you will just switch the wires around on the inside.

The concept of polarity in magnetism helps us to identify the North and South poles of a magnet’s force, which indicates the direction of its influence on other objects. While there are tons of ways to find out which pole is which on a magnet, most people would be surprised to learn that you can actually change them as well.

To find out more about how you can reverse the polarity of different types of magnets as you please, read through this detailed instructional guide to help you along the way.

How To Reverse The Polarity Of a Bar Magnet

One of the most common types of magnets that you will be able to get your hands on is the bar magnet. Almost exactly what it sounds like, it takes the shape of a long and narrow rectangle and produces its own magnetic force without any outside assistance.

Materials Needed:

  • Bar Magnets (2)
  • Pliers
  • Copper wire
  • Cardboard tube (ie toilet paper roll)
  • Stone slab (or another heat-proof surface)
  • Battery

In order to reverse the polarity of a bar magnet, you will need two bar magnets, a pair of pliers, a long thread of copper wire, a cardboard tube such as the one that comes in the middle of a toilet paper roll, a stone slab or something similar, and a regular battery.

Reversing The Polarity Of a Bar Magnet:

  1. Find the current poles of both magnets and mark them (A=attract, R=repel)
  2. Us pliers to wrap copper wire around a cardboard tube, creating a tight coil (same length as the bar magnet)
  3. Allow enough additional wire on each end for a battery connection
  4. Place coil on top of a heatproof surface (ie stone) and connect the end to the battery
  5. Insert one bar magnet inside of the coil and allow one energy pulse to flow through the coil
  6. Disconnect the coil from the battery completely
  7. Hold up the second bar magnet to test the polarity
  8. Repeat the process as needed until you have reversed the poles

To begin the process after you have gathered all of your necessary materials, you will need to start by finding the current poles of both magnets. This can be done by attempting to put them both together on each end until you come to the correct conclusion.

You can use a light colored pencil or piece of white chalk to mark “A” on the sides of each magnet that attach to each other magnetically, and “R” on the sides that repel each other.

Next, you will take the copper wire to use the pliers to wrap it continuously around the cardboard tube. In doing this, you should create a tight could that is around the same length as the bar magnet.

Before you complete this step, you will need to make sure that you allow enough additional wire on each end in order to be able to connect it to the battery.

Once this is complete, you will place your copper coil creation on a heatproof surface. An example of one of these surfaces would be some kind of smooth stone.

One of the bar magnets will go inside of the coil, and you will allow just one energy pulse to flow through the coil before you disconnect it from the battery completely and remove the magnet.

After you have gone through this entire process only once, you can hold up the second bar magnet in order to test the polarity, observing the markings that you previously made to identify the old poles.

Since this process might not be completely effective the first time around for this type of magnet, you should be prepared to repeat it several times before you realize that the poles have switched.

How To Reverse The Polarity Of an Electromagnet

Electromagnets are fundamentally different from the traditional bar magnet because instead of drawing their own magnetic field from the elements inside them, they require an electric current to display any magnetic power.

The process of reversing the polarity of an electromagnet is a much easier process than that of a bar magnet, and will usually be complete in the first go around.

Materials Needed:

  • Electromagnet (1)
  • Pliers or screwdriver

The only materials that are needed to reverse an electromagnet’s polarity are the magnet itself and a tool of your choice. This tool can either be a sturdy pair of pliers or an average screwdriver.

Reversing The Polarity Of an Electromagnet:

  1. Determine the poles of the magnet and mark them accordingly (N=North, S=South)
  2. Turn off the power switch
  3. Use a tool (pliers/screwdriver) to disconnect the two wires
  4. Switch the positions of the wires
  5. Turn the power back on and test the polarity

Initially, you will need to determine the poles of the magnet and mark them accordingly. Since you will only be using one magnet for this process, you will indicate each pole by writing “N” for North and “S” for South.

In the absence of another magnet, the easiest way to determine the poles is to place a compass on a flat surface next to the magnet. When you point either side of the electromagnet toward the compass, the North side of the needle will indicate the North pole, and the Southside will indicate the South Pole accordingly.

After you have properly identified and marked the current poles of your electromagnet, you will start by turning off the power switch completely. Use the tool of your choice, whether it is a pair of pliers or a screwdriver, and disconnect the two wires that are attached to the battery.

Next, you will use the same tool to switch the positions of the wires and reconnect them immediately.

To test the polarity of your electromagnet, you will need to turn the power back on. The actual test can be completed by using the compass one more time and comparing the results to your original markings, or bringing in an additional magnet with indicated poles.

In conclusion, it is actually possible to make changes to the polarity of a magnet, even though the thought of doing so doesn’t necessarily cross most people’s minds. If you are curious about trying it yourself, you can’t go wrong with the easy steps that were outlined for the traditional magnet as well as the electromagnet in this article.

Related Questions

How can the polarity of a magnet be affected in other ways?

If you ever cut a magnet directly in half, the polarity of each side will completely switch, due to the tiny magnetic particles that have their own poles on the inside of the magnet.

Can magnets withstand extreme heat?

Magnets are not meant to come in contact with direct heat, especially exceeding 100 degrees. When this happens, they can lose their power completely.