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How can metal be permanently magnetized?

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Quick Answer

A permanent magnet can be created by placing a piece of hard iron in a strong magnetic field generated by a machine or two or more hand-held magnets. Other methods for creating a permanently magnetized piece of metal involve using steel.

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Full Answer

Steel can be magnetized using one or two handheld magnets. To magnetize steel with one magnet, the north pole of the magnet is rubbed against the metal from the middle of the bar to one end. Then, the south pole of the magnet is rubbed from the middle of the metal to the other end. This is repeated a number of times to create a magnetic force. The same technique is used for the two magnet technique, only one hand has a north pole magnet and the other hand holds a south pole facing magnet, then they are simultaneously run from the middle of the metal to opposite ends the same number of times.

Any metal with similar properties to iron can be magnetized. These types of metals are called ferromagnetic materials. The quality that makes these materials magnetizable is the ability for the electron spins to align and create a direction of magnetization from north to south. No matter which technique is used to create the magnet, the electron spin of the non-magnet metal are set using the magnetic field of the magnet. When the magnet is taken away, the ferromagnetic material retains the spin alignment from magnet, thus creating a permanent magnet.

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