How Exactly Do You Make A Magnet? Here Is How They Are Made!

Magnets are some of the most interesting objects ever made in the world. Their history dates back to the 16th century, and are being still being used hundreds of years later. Along with the intriguing topic of how magnets work, there is still the question of how they are made. As a result, I did all of the research to come up with the answers.

How do you make a magnet? There are several different ways that a magnet can be made, depending on the type that is being referred to. In general, there are 3 main types of magnets: permanent, temporary, and electromagnet. The materials that they are made of vary from rare-earth elements all the way to insulated wire.

Permanent magnets are usually made in a factory through a six step process that includes crushing metals, heating, and compacting them. Electromagnets are made up of wires and metal alloys, while temporary magnets can be made from everyday objects like paperclips.

When the topic of magnets comes up, there are so many factors to consider and discuss, from their characteristics to how they work and even how they are made. If you were just as curious as I was to find out how magnets are made, you have come to the right place.

Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about what magnets are made of, how they are made, and even how you can make two of them yourself.

What Magnets Are Made Of

Magnets are a very intriguing topic to learn about, being that there is not much information about them that has been scientifically proven. While we know exactly how magnets work, there is no concrete answer of why they work, or why they even exist in the first place.

With all of that being said, it’s no wonder that the make-up of magnets is such an interesting concept to think about. Being that there is no real explanation for this phenomenon, it can be engaging to try to piece together how all of this is possible.

However, before we can get into how magnets are made, as well as how you can make one of your very own, it is important to acknowledge that there are different types of magnets, which will directly effect what they are made of as well as how they are made.

The three main categories of magnets are as follows: permanent, temporary, and electromagnet.

Permanent and temporary magnets are almost exactly what they sound like. The permanent magnet is able to retain its magnetic field and strength without any help from an external source.

Here is what Permanent Magnets are made of:

  • Ferromagnetic Materials
  • Rare-Earth Materials

There are several different types of magnets that fall under the category of permanent. In general, they can be made up of ferromagnetic materials, or rare-earths like Neodymium.

The temporary magnet, on the other hand, needs help from the stronger permanent magnet in order to be able to exert a magnetic force. In the absence of these circumstances, the temporary magnet will not work.

Here is what Temporary Magnets are made of:

  • Iron
  • Steel

Temporary magnets include iron and steel objects such as paper clips and nails, which can be turned into magnets for short periods of time.

Similarly, electromagnets are technically considered to be temporary magnets, due to the fact that they operate through the power of an electric current flowing through the coiled wires inside.

Electromagnets are in a different category, though, because they are artificial or man-made electronic magnets. These types of magnets can be manipulated in order to carry out certain tasks and meet strength requirements.

Here is what Electromagnets are made of:

  • Insulated Wire
  • Iron, Steel, Cobalt, Nickel, etc.

Electromagnets are made of insulated wire on the inside, as well as combinations of different metals on the outside including iron, steel, cobalt, nickel, and more similar materials.

With the basic understanding of the different types of magnets, along with what they are generally made of as far as materials go, keep reading along to find out more details about how these magnets are produced and how you can do it yourself.

How Are Magnets Produced?

Much like anything else in the man-made world, magnets are just as manufactured and produced as commonly as the automobiles at car factories. 

Of course, much like the car itself, there are several steps towards finishing the magnet making process.

These six steps are over all arduous but make sure to create the magnet at full dimension and capacity as it should obtain when being processed. Take a look at the organized table down below to get an idea of what these steps consist of.

Preparing 1. Finding the right amounts of metals 2. Placing metals into a vacuum to remove chemicals 3. Powdered metal is cooled down and broken into pieces
Pressing 1. Magnetic force applied on powder into mold 2. Metal compressed onto a hydraulic to finalize molding process -
Heating 1. Metal moved to an oven to begin heating process 2. Metal powder turns into solidified version 3. Heated at low temperature for several days until cooled
Annealing 1. Cooled down metal reheated - -
Finishing 1. Metal branded and formed for smoothness 2. Coating given to metal before final process -
Magnetizing 1. Placed between two electromagnets 2. Atoms realigned to create magnetism 3. Magnet is competed

The first step of the magnet-making process is known as the preparation stage. Preparing the metal means finding the right amount of neodymium, boron, and iron and placing these amounts onto the metal into a vacuum.

What the vacuum will do is make sure there will be no other chemical outside of the neodymium, boron, and iron that can affect the magnet making process.

Once it’s inside the vacuum, the powdered metal is then heated inside so it clings onto the metal, so after its cool-down phase, the metal is then broken down into pieces and then moved onto a bar mill.

The now powdered metal is moved into a die, or molding area that imitates the length and average diameter of the finished magnet.

The magnetic force is then applied into the molding phase onto the powdered metal to then align themselves with the powdered particles. As the powder is being applied, the metal is then compressed onto a hydraulic to finalize the molding process. When the compressing is finished, the metal is then moved onto an oven for the heating process.

As it is placed in the oven to be heated, the compressed metals now become a more solidified version of what it was in the pressing phase. During the heating phase, there are three stages that happen as the metal heats up.

In its stage one, the metal is heated at a low temperature to avoid any moisture surrounding it. Then in its second stage, the temperature rises and the metal is set there for a couple of hours to even days before finally cooling off for its third stage.

Annealing is merely another heating phase in which the now cooled down metal is then heated up once more to remove any other residue that was in the metal during the heating process and to reinforce the now solidified metal.

Using a smooth surface, the metal is then branded and formed once last time to finish the shape and its dimensions for the magnetic force it is about to be presented with. After the dimensions are set and smoothen out, a coating is given to the metal at hand before the final process.

In order for the now crafted metal to be created a magnet, the metal is placed in between two sets of electromagnets that “charge” the metal to give it its magnetic force.

During the electromagnetic process, the atoms are then realigned to create the magnetism that is desirable for the metal that was crafted, now fully creating a magnet.

So, now that you have gotten all of the magnet-manufacturing secrets that let you know how magnets are usually made, you might be wondering how this process differs on a smaller scale.

In the next section, we will be going over how you, yourself, can make a magnet in an easy process. Keep reading to get step-by-step instructions on how you can create one of the biggest scientific mysteries, with your own hands!

How To Make a Magnet: Step-by-Step

It’s pretty interesting to see how many manufacturers can produce the common types of magnets we use on our refrigerators and desks to organize what we need to get done.

However, despite this arduous and very intricate task to create a magnet, there are ways to create a mini magnet at home with such a few household items as well as an imaginative and creative mind.

While the process of making a magnet that was described in the previous section was geared toward permanent magnets mostly, we will be taking a slightly different turn throughout the rest of this article.

The three types of magnets, being permanent, temporary, and electromagnets, all consist of different materials and processes for development.

Unless you have all of the above mentioned tools and rare earth materials at your disposal and you know how to use them safely, you might not be looking at making any kind of permanent magnet at home.

However, the other two options still stand in this aspect. To begin, we will go over how you can create an entire electromagnet at home. Take a look at the list down below for quick outline, and keep reading to get all of the details.

Here are the steps you can follow in order to make an electromagnet at home:

  1. Find a metal object (ie nail, screw, paperclip)
  2. Find a power source
  3. Foil the copper around the metal (insulated)
  4. Test the Strength

The first step should seem quite simple: finding a metal object that can be magnetized. This can be something as small as that of a paperclip or nail that are often laying around at desks of old hardware stores.

Although these seem like basic objects, they can certainly be transformed into magnets, due to the materials that they are made up of, which are usually iron and steel.

Once the metal object has been found and acquired, then the fun truly begins. You will now be able to begin the steps toward making your own magnet at home.

To continue, you will need to find some kind of power source in order to supply your magnet with the energy that it will need in order to work.

As mentioned in the section above, the manufactured magnets require an energy of sorts in order to create that magnetic energy they are known to create.

With the courtesy of electromagnetism, electricity runs through the metal to then be polarized and magnetized. The same can be done with your very own magnet, as a small battery and copper wire should do the trick to energize the metal.

When you are finding the copper wire for your homemade magnet, it is increasingly important that you make the right choice at the hardware store before you purchase it.

Since you will be working with electrical elements during this process, you want to make sure that you are purchasing insulated copper wire. This way, you will not be at risk for being electrocuted if you make the wrong move during your attempt.

Now that you’ve obtained your power source and the insulated copper wire, the next step is to wrap the copper around the metal object that is ready to be magnetized. Making sure that the wire is covering enough of the metal to magnetize it when the power source is turned on.

For instance, if you are using a simple nail for the base component of your magnet, you might wrap your copper wire tightly from the top all the way to the bottom, as far as it can go in order for your concoction to prove effective.

As an additional tip to help you out in this process, sometimes it is best to overlap the already wounded copper to increase the magnetic strength.

Once the copper is wounded onto the metal object, the power source should then be turned on. While this is happening, you should let the energy from the power source act like the electromagnet to charge up the metal object.

This charging phase should only last about a minute before turning off the power source and then letting the metal object cool down.

After turning off the power source, let the metal object rest for about a minute longer. Once it finishes cooling down, all you need to do now is simply grab the metal object and test it out for yourself around smaller metal objects such as paper clips at your leisure.

Last but not least, we will be going over how you can make the last type of magnet at home: the temporary magnet. As previously mentioned, temporary magnets rely on the force of a stronger, permanent magnet in order to work.

On top of that, they will only work for a short period of time before the magnetic power runs out and they will essentially need to be re-charged.

Take a look at the list down below to get a general breakdown of the steps that you will need to take in order to complete this small experiment.

Here are the steps you can follow in order to make a temporary magnet at home:

  1. Find a metal object (ie nail, screw, paperclip)
  2. Obtain a strong magnet (permanent)
  3. Move the metal object in one direction on top of the magnet repeatedly
  4. Keep doing this for several minutes (about 50 repetitions in the same direction)
  5. Remove and test your new temporary magnet

To begin, you will need to find a metal object, similar to the one that was used in the previous outline. This can be anything from a nail to a paperclip.

Next, obtain a strong magnet. This magnet must be a permanent one, which will not be hard to find. In fact, you might already have one on the front of your fridge to use for this experiment.

When you are ready to begin, move the metal object in one direction on top of the magnet repeatedly, like you are starting a fire. Keep doing this for several minutes in the same direction, never going back and forth.

Once this has been repeated about 50 times, you can remove the object and test your new temporary magnet. It helps to have small metal shavings or something similar next to your workspace to play with, due to the fact that your magnet will quickly run out.

If the test objects are sticking to your object, congratulations! You have just successfully made a non-magnetic object into something that can attract other materials.