What Do Magnets Stick To?
Ever wonder what materials are attracted to a magnet? Let’s face it, at some point, growing up, we all were curious. Don’t you remember walking around your house or classroom (perhaps during a school science experiment) with one of those large, red, and silver U-shaped magnets - trying to see if anything within reach would stick?
This question is a good one. Because magnets are an important tool in so many tasks, understanding what they attract and where they “stick” is wise.
Magnets Attracted To Certain Metals
In general, magnets are attracted to metals that contain nickel, cobalt, and iron. Fun fact, iron is a component of steel, so many items made of steel will also stick to a magnet. That said, one question often asked is if magnets are attracted to stainless steel.
The answer, unfortunately, is not particularly straightforward. You see, whether or not a magnet will attract stainless steel is dependent upon the type of stainless you are talking about.
Stainless steel can be divided into three categories, austenitic, ferritic, and martensitic. Austenitic stainless steel is the one most commonly used today. It contains a significant amount of chromium and nickel and is leveraged by a host of manufacturing industries including automotive, aircraft, and food and cookware equipment, among others. This type of stainless steel is further segmented into 304 stainless and 316 stainless. While 304 may become slightly magnetic after it is processed, 316 remains not magnetic at all times.
Ferritic stainless, which is less expensive than austenitic, is magnetic. And finally, we have martensitic stainless. While this alloy is incredibly hard, it also is not magnetic.
When looking at magnetic properties, regular steel is more magnetic than stainless, even the ferritic variety. If you are wondering if the stainless steel you have is magnetic, the best way to get an answer is to grab a magnet and see if it sticks! It is hard to tell the composition of steel from just looking, but the magnet itself always tells the truth. The task is easy to complete and the results are reliable.
Unfortunately, you cannot tell if any metal, including stainless steel, is magnetic simply by its appearance. Luckily, the magnets testing process is both simple and reliable.