What Metals are Magnetic?

What Metals are Magnetic?

Some metals are magnetic, and others metals are not. This article explores what makes a metal magnetic, types of magnetism, magnetic metals, non-magnetic metals, and what metals can be used for.

What makes a metal magnetic?

A piece of metal is magnetic if the atoms within its crystalline structure are aligned. As a result, all particles face the same way. Metal atoms are not magnetic because they are not aligned in any pattern.

Furthermore, only ferromagnetic materials can be magnetized. In order to be considered magnetic, materials must be attracted to magnetic fields strongly enough to be considered ferromagnets.

When you magnetize your metal, you can create permanent, temporary, or electromagnets.

Permanent Magnets

Magnetic permanents are metals with crystalline structures that have been repositioned permanently.

Temporary Magnets

Under certain conditions, a temporary magnet is a metal with a magnetic field.


Using an electric current, a wire is coiled around ferromagnetic materials to create magnets. Magnetic fields are only produced by this type of magnet when electrical current is flowing.

Types of Magnetism

There are five types of magnetism:

  1. Diamagnetism: Matter as we know it is diamagnetic. Diamagnetic means a magnetic force weakly repels it. Thus, the attraction to a magnet exceeds the repulsion from diamagnetism.
  2. Paramagnetism: Paramagnetism is a type of material that is weakly attracted to a magnetic field. Aluminum, oxygen, iron oxide, and titanium are all examples of paramagnetic metals.
  3. Ferromagnetism: These types of materials are very attracted to magnets and can become magnetized.
  4. Ferrimagnetism: These materials are only attracted to magnets. They act as permanent magnets.
  5. Antiferromagnetism: The alignment of adjacent ions at low temperatures make the material non-respond to the magnetic field. Yet, some atoms break free above a specific temperature, and the material becomes weakly magnetic.

Magnetic Metals

There are many different types of magnetic metal. They include:

  • Iron
  • Nickel
  • Cobalt
  • Steel
  • Gadolinium
  • Dysprosium
  • Terbium

Non-Magnetic Metals

As we’ve learned, not all types of metal are magnetic. Some metals not considered magnetic include:

  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Brass
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Titanium
  • Bismuth
  • Magnesium
  • Molybdenum
  • Tantalum
  • Tin
  • Any alkali metals

What can magnets be used for?

There are so many ways magnets are used in everyday life. Magnets are used in:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Electric motors
  • Compasses
  • Pickups on electric guitars
  • Speakers and microphones
  • Magnetic data storage systems like hard drives
  • Toys
  • Trains
  • Magnetic strips on banking cards
  • Generating electricity

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