How to Make a Magnet

Edit Article Magnets are made by exposing ferromagnetic metals like iron and nickel to magnetic fields. When these metals are heated to a certain temperature, they become permanently magnetized. It's also possible to temporarily magnetize them by using a variety of methods you can try safely at home. Learn how to make a paperclip magnet, an electromagnet, and a magnet you can use as a compass.

Making a Paperclip Magnet

  • How to Make a Magnet

    Gather supplies.A simple temporary magnet can be made with a tiny piece of metal, such as a paperclip, and a refrigerator magnet. Gather these items as well as a smaller piece of metal, such as an earring back or a tiny nail, that you can use to test the magnetic properties of the magnetized paperclip.
    • Experiment with different paperclip sizes, and uncoated versus coated paperclips.
    • Gather smaller objects in a range of sizes and metals to see which ones will stick to the paperclips.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Rub the magnet against the paperclip.Move it in the same direction, rather than back and forth. Use the same quick motion you'd use to light a match. Continue rubbing the paperclip with the magnet 50 times as quickly as you can.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Touch the paperclip against the smaller piece of metal.Does the small piece of metal stick to the paperclip? If so, you've successfully magnetized it.
    • If the metal won't stick to the paperclip, rub it 50 more times and try again.
    • Try picking up other paper clips and larger objects to determine how strong the magnet is.
    • Consider recording the length of time the paper clip stays magnetized after a certain number of rubs. Experiment with different types of metal, like pins or nails, to see which one makes the strongest, longest-lasting magnet.

Making an Electromagnet

  • How to Make a Magnet
    Gather supplies.Electromagnets are created by running an electric current through a piece of metal to create a magnetic field. This can be done on a small scale using these supplies, which are available at hardware stores:
    • A large iron nail
    • 3 feet (0.9 m) of thin coated copper wire
    • A D-cell battery
    • Small magnetic objects, like paperclips or pins
    • Wire strippers
    • Masking tape
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Strip the ends of the wire.Use the wire strippers to remove a few centimeters of insulation from either end of the copper wire. The uninsulated ends will be wrapped around the ends of the battery.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Wrap the nail.starting about 8 inches (20.3 cm) from the end of the wire, wrap the nail tightly. Each wrap should be touching the last, but don't overlap them. Continue wrapping until the nail is covered from head to tip.
    • Make sure you wrap in the same direction down the nail. In order to create a magnetic field, the electricity must flow in the same direction.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Connect the battery.Wrap one end of the exposed wire around the positive side of the battery and the other end around the negative side of the battery. Use a small piece of masking tape to secure the wire in place on both sides.
    • Don't worry about which end of wire you attach to which end of the battery. The nail will become magnetized either way; the only difference is that its polarity will change. One side of the magnet is the north pole, and one side is the south pole. Reversing the wires will also reverse the poles.
      How to Make a Magnet
    • Once the battery is attached, the wires will grow hot as electricity begins passing through them, so be careful not to burn yourself.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Use the magnet.Place the nail near a paperclip or another small piece of metal. Since the nail is magnetized, the metal will stick to the nail. Experiment with different sizes and weights to see how much strength your magnet has.

Making a Compass Magnet

  • How to Make a Magnet
    Gather supplies.Acompassworks by indicating north with a magnetized needle that aligns with the earth's magnetic field. Any metal that can be magnetized can be turned into a compass. A sewing needle or straight pin is a good choice. In addition to a needle, gather these supplies to make your compass:
    • A magnetizer. Find a magnet, a nail, or even a piece of fur to magnetize the needle.
    • A cross section of cork. Slice a disc from an old wine cork to provide a base for the compass.
    • A bowl of water. Suspending the compass in water allows the magnetized needle to align with the earth's magnetic poles.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Magnetize the needle.Rub the needle using a magnet, a nail, or a piece of fur, which creates a small electric current. Rub the needle in the same direction at least 50 times to magnetize it.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Stick the needle through the cork.Slide it in horizontally, so that the needle pierces on side of the cork and comes out the other side. Keep pushing until the front and back of the needle protrude equally from the cork.
    • If the needle you're using is too big to push through the cork, you may simply rest it on top of the cork.
    • If you don't have a cork coin, use another lightweight object that floats, such as a leaf.
  • How to Make a Magnet
    Float the magnet.Place the magnetized needle on the surface of the water in the bowl. Watch as it moves to align itself from north and south along the poles. If it doesn't move, remove the needle from the cork, rub it 75 times with the magnetizer, and try again.


  • Try with something small to pick up with the magnet.
  • Make sure to keep rubbing it in the same direction.
  • The more times you rub the paper clip across the magnet the more it will hold.
  • If you drop the paper clip then it probably won't work and you will have to start over.
  • Make sure that you only rub in one direction.
  • While creating an electromagnet, the wires may turn hot. Be careful when working with them.


  • Magnets can mess up TVs and Monitors (although the paperclip magnet you made probably won't)

Magnets can also erase phone SIM cards, so beware.