How Do You Magnetize Something?

Using an existing magnet, you can magnetize everyday household items that contain iron, cobalt or nickel, which are metals that exhibit the property of ferromagnetism. Ferromagnetism is a subatomic property of some metals created by the structure of the electron clouds around the atoms. When the electrons of the metals align in a particular way, the metal produces a magnetic field.

  1. Gather the necessary materials

    Select the strongest magnet available in order to magnetize other metals. When searching for something to magnetize, you can choose from a variety of objects, such as nails, screws, tools and even paperclips, as long as they contain the correct type of metal.

  2. Align the electrons

    Stroke the magnet in one direction along the chosen item. Don't rub back and forth. Alternatively, you can strike the object repeatedly with a hammer. Some objects become magnetized by the action of the Earth's magnetic field if they are knocked loose first. This method is less likely to work than the rubbing method.

  3. Test the new magnet

    Hold the object near other metallic items to see if it's now magnetized. If it isn't, try repeating step 2. If the object still doesn't become magnetized, it probably contains nonmagnetic materials. Select a different object and try again.