Material that can be magnetised is known as ferromagnetic. Soft ferromagnetic material will lose its magnetism when it is not in the magnetic field any longer. Other ferromagnetic material will retain its magnetism for a period of time. Only three types of elements can be permanently magnetised: iron, nickel and cobalt. Although there are ways to magnetise a material for a short while without an electric current, you will need a battery to permanently magnetise your metal and create an electromagnet.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Iron nail, 3 to 4 inches long
- 3 feet copper wire
- Wire strippers
- Wire cutters
- Size D battery
- Electric tape
Wrap copper wire around an iron nail tightly from the head of the nail to the tip, leaving about eight inches of wire loose before you begin coiling. If you are not sure whether your nail is iron or not, check for signs of rust; an iron nail will rust, whereas other metals will not.
Cut the wire, leaving another eight inches loose at the bottom end of the nail.
Strip the coating from approximately one inch of the wire on both ends. Attach the bottom wire to the bottom of a battery using tape. Fasten the other end of the wire to the top of the battery with tape.
Check your magnet by pointing the end of the nail at metal objects, such as paper clips. The nail will remain a magnet as long as it is attached to the battery.
Remove the nail from the battery when you are not using it. Since you have permanently magnetised your nail, it will drain your battery quickly.
Tips and warnings
- The battery or the wires connected to the battery can become very hot.
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