What Do Magnets Stick To?

What Do Magnets Stick To?

Many people think that they know the answer to the title question, and more often than not, their answer will be "metals". However, that is only partly true because magnets stick to some types of metals and not others. For example, imagine you have two metal cabinets right in front of you, one is aluminum and one is steel. When you try to stick your magnets on the cabinets, the magnet will slide off the aluminum cabinet and stick firmly to the steel cabinet.

Understanding the Basics

The most accurate answer to the question, "What do magnets stick to?" is  "ferromagnetic materials." Ferromagnetism is the basis on which custom refrigerator magnets  work. Any ferromagnetic material can make magnets stick to them, firmly. Here are the most common ferromagnetic materials:

  • Iron
  • Cobalt
  • Nickel
  • Steel
  • Manganese
  • Gadolinium
  • Lodestone

The Issue about Strong and Weak Metals

In their natural states, metals such as brass, copper, gold and silver will not attract magnets. This is because they are weak metals to start with. Magnets only attach themselves to strong metals such as iron and cobalt and that is why not all types of metals can make magnets stick to them. However, you can actually add properties such as iron or steel into the weak metals to make them stronger. Even adding a very small amount of iron into a metal like gold can make it become magnetic.


Stainless Steels and Magnets

Steel is a metal that magnets stick to because iron can be found inside steel. However, stainless steels comprise of a large group of steel alloys that are made of different metal compositions. While some have more chromium, some might have more iron in them. That is why you will find that while some types of stainless steels are magnetic, other stainless steel types will not make magnets stick to them. Stainless steel is often used in a wide range of home appliances, so if you experiment, you might find that your fridge magnet sticks to your oven, but does not stick to your rice cooker.

Magnets Do Not Stick to Non-Metal Materials

Most people know from experience that magnets do not stick to non-metal materials such as wood, plastic, fiberglass and textile. The academic term for materials that do not attract magnets is diamagnetic.  That is why you won't see a magnetic business card sticking to a wooden desk, for example!

A Wide Range of Surfaces that Attract Magnets

There are many surfaces that magnets are attracted to, and that is why magnets have a wides audience. For example, many tourists choose metal souvenir magnets, and many businesses choose custom shape magnets for their advertising needs   These types of magnets are very affordable and have longlasting appeal. For example, magnets can stick on whiteboards, school and work lockers, cars and trucks, most refrigerators and dishwashers, office filing cabinets, metal shelving and industrial equipment, metal toolboxes, and many more items found in the home or office.

Category: Magnets 101

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