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How to Test for Bronze With a Magnet

Updated April 17, 2017

Bronze is a non-magnetic metal alloy made up of tin and copper. Due to its non-magnetic properties the presence of bronze can be determined by testing an The magnetic attraction of an unknown metal. Metals with inherent magnetic properties have a structure which makes it easier for their electrons to line up. Since bronze is made up of metals which are not inherently magnetic a magnet can be used to differentiate it from other magnetic metals.

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  1. Lay out all of the metals listed on a flat surface. Random pieces of metal could also be laid out to test for the presence of bronze.

  2. Move the magnet close to the sample metal to see if the sample metal magnetically attracts. If the sample metal is large hold the sample in the air and attempt to place the magnet on the bottom. If the magnet can resist the pull of gravity and attach to the metal it is magnetic.

  3. Record your observations about how magnetic each sample metal is. Note differing strengths in magnetism and if the magnet was attracted, repelled, or unaffected by the sample metal.

  4. Separate the sample metals by those that are magnetic versus those that are non-magnetic. Should bronze be present it will be in the non-magnetic pile.

  5. Evaluate the possible presence of bronze metal in the non-magnetic pile by observing characteristics of the sample metals. Check for a blue or waxy coating known as bronze disease. Bronze is typically a light brown colour. Determine the mass and volume of the metal sample to calculate density. The density of bronze at room temperature is 8.96 grams/ cm cubed. Volume is length x width x height while mass can be determined using a gram scale.

  6. Tip

    Metals which would not usually exert magnetic properties can be made magnetic artificially. If you suspect a sample metal to be artificially magnetic simply drop it on the floor. Metals made artificially magnetic will lose their electron configuration.


    Magnets have the potential to cause injury. Never place your body between metal and a magnet and always use caution when working with magnets.

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Things You'll Need

  • Horseshoe magnet
  • Iron Nail
  • Bronze
  • Copper
  • White Tin
  • Gray Tin
  • Steel
  • Ruler
  • Gram scale

About the Author

Samuel Sohlden

Samuel Sohlden began his freelance writing career in 2007. His work appears on various websites, with articles focusing on science and health. In 2010 he attended the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, Calif. Sohlden is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from the University of Cincinnati.

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