How to Magnetize a Steel Bar

Written by alex smith
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How to Magnetize a Steel Bar
You can harness the power of electricity to make a magnet. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Magnetism is a natural force that affects iron and metals containing iron, such as steel. An ordinary steel bar can be turned into a magnet by applying electricity, which generates a magnetic field that is passed onto the metal. Commercial magnets are created by exposing metal to strong magnetic fields, and you can do the same thing with a battery and some wire. The bar's magnetic attraction will be strongest while the power is on, but even after you switch the power off, the bar will still be magnetised.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Metal bar
  • Copper wire
  • Wire strippers
  • 12-volt battery

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  1. 1

    Wrap a piece of coated copper wire around the steel bar, creating tight coils that travel the entire length of the bar. Leave 12 inches extending from each end of the bar. The amount of wire you will need depends on the length and thickness of the bar.

  2. 2

    Remove 1 inch of the wire's coating at both ends with a pair of wire strippers.

  3. 3

    Connect one wire to the positive (+) terminal of a 12-volt battery.

  4. 4

    Connect the other end of the wire to the negative (-) terminal of the battery. This activates a current through the wire, creating a magnetic field and turning the steel bar into an electromagnet.

  5. 5

    Leave the power running for 5 minutes.

  6. 6

    Remove the wires from the battery and slide the steel bar out of the coil. It will still carry a magnetic charge.

Tips and warnings

  • The longer you leave the power on, the stronger of a magnet you will create.
  • You can add multiple layers of coils in the wire to produce an even stronger magnetic field.
  • The wire will heat up as the power is on. Be careful not to burn yourself.

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