What Are Temporary Magnets?

Emilio Kuffer/CC-BY-SA 2.0

A temporary magnet is a magnet that stays magnetized only for a relatively short period of time. Non- electromagnetic temporary magnets tend to be made of soft magnetic materials, like annealed iron or steel.

The first type of temporary magnet is one that has a low coercivity, meaning the magnetic field necessary to demagnetize it is relatively small. An example of this is iron filings that have been recently affected by a magnetic field. While still magnetized, the filings have a very weak magnetic field and are demagnetized with very little effort. The second main type of temporary magnet is the electromagnet, in which a strong magnetic field is produced by running electricity through a coil of wire. The electromagnet is a temporary magnet because the magnetic field exists only when current is running through the coil of wire.