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10 Weird And Wonderful Uses For Magnets

Neodymium Magnets 03/11/2020

10 Weird & Wonderful Uses for Magnets

10 Weird And Wonderful Uses For Magnets

10 Prevent Car Doors from Freezing with Magnets.

If your car doesn't feature keyless entry, then this magnetic hack could prove invaluable.

WonderHowTo

Other than sticking your crayon drawings onto your refrigerator door, magnets have a variety of unexpected and sometimes surprisingly practical uses, ranging from keeping your chip bags sealed to creating weird patterns on your nail beds using magnetic nail polish.

The strongest magnet in the world stands 22-feet tall and weighs 34 tons.

It has a magnetic field of 45 teslas, which is 45,000 times stronger than that of Earth's.

That's cool, but we won't need such power for our magnetic hacks.

No, a simple permanent magnet will be quite enough to find us true north, fashion a fridge pen, pick up pointy metal objects, and get iron out of our cereal.

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1. Find True North with a Magnet

So you need to find true north but you're without a compass and the sky and sun are covered with clouds.

Well, if you have a magnet, a piece of cork, a bowl of water, and a straight pin, you have away.

To go about finding north on Earth's axis, rub the pin across the magnet 50 times in the same direction.

Next, push the pin through the cork to create a pointer of sorts.

Last, place the DIY magnetic needle into the bowl of water, and there you have it: true north.

No matter how you turn or tilt the bowl, the pin will always point north.

2. Use a Magnet to Locate Studs in a Wall

An electronic stud finder can be hit or miss when it comes to locating studs behind walls so why not use a magnet to do the searching instead.

A strong magnet can easily find the nails and/or screws holding the stud and (dry)wall together.

All you need to do (as you would a stud finder) is move the magnet over a wall until it sticks to it.

custom shape diametrically magnetized large small thin

What's happening? It's found the metal fastener beneath the paint.

3. Keep Chip Bags Sealed with Magnets

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An opened bag of potato chips can be on its way to Statesville if enough air gets to the crisps and binds to the starch in them.

The simple solution, of course, is to use a bag clip (or clothespin, binder clip, etc.).

But if you don't have one handy, and you do have magnets, then you still have a solution: Just fold over the top of the chips bag a few times and apply magnets on the opposite sides.

4. Make a Handy Magnetized Fridge Pen

Running low on sriracha sauce? Need paper towels? Want to leave a reminder but don't have a way to write it down? For that next time (and there will be a next time), make a quick fridge pen.

To do so, simply slip a small magnet underneath the metal clip of a pen and stick it to your refrigerator.

You're now all set for future grocery lists and notes to self.

5. Pick Up Metal Things with a Magnet

Magnets are also extremely useful for safely picking up screws, needles, and other pointy objects from the floor if you ever have an accidental spill during your DIY home project or sewing spree.

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6. Rescue Items from a Drain with a Magnet

If you happen to drop an earring down a drain or have a fork sitting in the garbage disposal, don't stick your hand in there, which can be gross — not to mention dangerous.

Instead, use a magnet.

First, tie a piece of twine around a strong magnet and then lower it into the drain.

Once the magnet grabs onto the metal item, slowly pull both it and the magnet up and out.

It's like a mini rescue mission.

7. Design with Magnetized Paint & Polish

Magnetic paint is a DIY idea that could very well spruce up your home office, dorm room, or kitchen.

The primer paint, which has tiny particles of iron dust mixed in it, can be used to magnetize wall space into a fun "board" for notes, photos, receipts, and more.

pot magnet hooks mounting ndfeb

Bob Vila recommends using a lot of primers and covering it with at most two coats of paint as each coat will diminish the primer's overall magnetism.

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Speaking of aesthetics, a kind of magnetic "paint" has recently entered the beauty realm as well, in the form of magnetic nail polish.

For some fun and weird patterns on your nail beds, simply hover a magnet over freshly painted nails and see what designs emerge before the paint dries.

8. Seal a Vent with a Magnetic Sheet

Easily prevent hot/cold air from entering unused rooms in your home by sealing up a vent with a magnetic sheet.

This DIY will save you money on HVAC costs, especially during the summer and winter months.

9. Extract Jammed Batteries with a Magnet

Struggling to remove a battery from its compartment? We've all been there.

Well, rather than waste (more) time — and risk hurting your fingers in the process — let a magnet do the work.

Pretty much any size magnet should be able to pull those stubborn batteries out of their crammed battery holders.

You'll wonder why you never did so before.

10. Prevent Car Doors from Freezing with Magnets

If your car doesn't feature keyless entry, then this magnetic hack could prove invaluable during the winter season.

By placing a wide, flat magnet over your car door's lock overnight, you can keep it from freezing shut.

Next morning, you can use the time you save on de-icing your windshield, which will still happen.

11. Get Iron Out of Cereal with a Magnet

And finally, if you ever suspect that your fortified nutritious breakfast cereal doesn't contain as much iron as it claims, you can verify your theory by grinding up the cereal in a blender and then seeing for yourself just how much black iron fuzz sticks onto a magnet when you sift through the cereal dust.

Pretty weird and wonderful, right?

10 Places To Find Magnets At Home

Magnets are used in a variety of different ways.

strong lab white ptfe teflon coated magnetic

From holding notes on your refrigerator to powering industrial equipment, magnets have a diverse range of applications.

You may be surprised at how often you use magnets without realizing it.

Other than the cute magnets holding photos on your fridge, can you find all of the other ways magnets are used in your home? Check out our infographic to get started:

The Bedroom

1. Duvet Covers - Magnets are used in some duvet covers to hold them closed.

2. Hanging Art - Hook magnets can be used to hang wall art and posters.

They can also be used to organize closets by hanging scarves, jewelry, belts, and more.

3. Handbags and Jewelry - Handbags often incorporate magnets into the clasps.

Magnetic clasps are also used to make jewelry.

The Kitchen

4. Microwave Magnets - Microwaves use magnetrons consisting of magnets to generate electromagnetic waves, which heat the food.

5. Refrigerator Doors - Refrigerators and freezers are sealed with a magnetic mechanism so they’re easy to open from the inside.

6. Spice Rack - A magnetic spice rack with neodymium magnets is easy to make and useful for clearing valuable counter space.

7. Knife Rack - A magnetic knife rack is easy to make and great for organizing kitchen utensils.

The Office

8. Cabinets - Many cabinet doors are secured with magnetic latches so they don’t pop open unintentionally.

9. Computers - Magnetism is a major component of computers.

The hard drive’s disk is coated with tiny magnets, which allow computers to store data.

10. Organizing Office Supplies - Neodymium magnets are useful for the organization.

Metal office supplies like paperclips and thumbtacks will stick to the magnet so they won’t get misplaced.

The Dining Room

11. Extendable Tables - Extendable tables with additional pieces can use magnets to hold the table in place.

strong pull 19 5kg dia 66 rubber

12. Tablecloths - When having an outdoor party, use magnets to hold the tablecloth in place.

The magnets will keep it from blowing away in the wind along with everything sitting on the table.

Magnets also won’t damage the table with holes or tape residue.

Can you find all the magnets used in your home? Let us know if you find any places that we didn’t include in our list.

Magnets Are Everywhere

Magnetic Thumbtacks on a fridge.

Powerful neodymium magnets are used for much more than fancy fridge magnets. In fact, magnets have permeated our lives so much recently, in ways that aren’t always obvious, that we are surrounded by magnets more than ever.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the amazing and unexpected ways that magnets have transformed modern life. Rather than look at where magnets are used everywhere in the world, we’ll limit the discussion to magnets found in a typical home.

There are a lot of magnets in my house.

Before the middle of the 20th century, let's say about 1950, most people had only a few magnets in their homes.

Today, that number is more likely in the hundreds. That’s true even for readers like you who don’t work here at K&J Magnetics! Where are these magnets hidden in your home? What are all these magnets for?

Fridge Magnets

White HOOK-WHT hooks holding up a few aprons on a steel door.

Let’s check off this obvious category from the list first. There are a number of fridge magnets we sell, like Magnetic Thumbtacks or other neodymium magnets used for fridge magnets. You might also have a flexible magnet or two on your fridge, probably with an advertisement printed on it.

Let’s make this category even larger. Let’s define it as anything where magnets are sticking to something in your house to hold stuff up. Maybe you use a Magnetic Hook to hold up decoration on your steel front door. Maybe you use hooks to hold up aprons.

Magnetic Cabinet Latches

Magnetic cabinet catch.

The doors on cabinets or other furniture doors often have magnetic catches or closures on them. Usually, these are made with an inexpensive ceramic magnet sandwiched between two steel plates, which attract and come into contact with a steel “strike plate” on the door. While we're starting to see some closures made with powerful neodymium magnets, most are still using inexpensive ceramic magnets.

Audio Speakers

Most speakers are made with some kind of permanent magnet that interacts with a coil of wire (an electromagnet, really). The audio signal flows through the wire and moves the speaker. The speaker moves air, making the sound. We demonstrated the basics of how a speaker works back in our Audio Speakers article.

How many speakers are in a home? Count all the speakers: don’t forget radios, stereo systems, televisions, etc. Count cell phone speakers, but not microphones. (Most cell phone microphones are condenser/electret microphones, and do not contain a permanent magnet.) Don’t forget the speakers in your car. Count each ear-bud in any music playing device you might have.

high strength magnetic components assembly from cj

Which ones use neodymium magnets? Usually, it's the ones where small size counts. While the huge speaker of a subwoofer might utilize a ceramic magnet, the tiny earbuds you use with your smartphone or mp3 player are likely to use neodymium magnets.

Electric motors

An electric motor from a DVD drive

This is a huge category. If you can think of something electronic that moves, it probably has magnets in it (not 100%, though). The automatic windows in cars? Each window has its own motor. The tray on your DVD player? Motors.

The popularity of magnetic tape recordings with VHS VCRs has declined, but our transition to DVDs and BluRay optical discs doesn’t mean we got rid of magnets. The typical DVD player has quite a few of them inside, including a motor to spin the disc, a motor to open and close the disc tray, a motor to roughly position the read head/laser, and even a fine electromagnetic control of the read head. That's at least four magnets right there in one DVD player!

If your computer has a disc reader/writer in it, a figure that has another 4+ magnets.

What else in the home moves with electric motors? The ice dispenser in a fridge. The garbage disposal. A trash compactor. The spinning tray in a microwave (in addition to the big magnet used in making the microwaves). Electric fans, the blower in a hairdryer, fans and blowers in a refrigerator. A garage door opener. The pump in an aquarium. The rotating parts of washers and dryers. Blenders and mixers. The list goes on and on, and most of these motors have permanent magnets in them.

Note: Not every electric motor has a permanent magnet in it. Some kinds of motors, like the electric induction motor, uses two coils of wire instead of a coil and a permanent magnet. The motor in my ShopVac is an induction motor and does not use permanent magnets.

In a car, all sorts of things are controlled by motors: power windows, various pumps, windshield wipers and more.

More Electronic Devices

Laptops have speakers, magnetic sensors, hard drives...

A computer’s hard drive has a number of magnets in it as well, in addition to being a magnetic storage device. (Let’s keep this number reasonable, and not consider everyone and zero stored on it as an individual magnet, even if it is technically true.) Still, the hard drive has magnets for the motor to spin the disc and another magnet to control the position of the read heads.

Have a DVR? That’s got a hard drive in it too.

Laptop computers and flip phones use a magnet to sense when it is open or closed. See Reed Switches and Hall Effect Sensors for more info on how they work.

What else? Lawnmower engine ignition sensor.

Car crankshaft sensor. Bicycle cyclometer.

In the garage, a pick-up tool that is sometimes handy for picking up dropped screws and bolts. A D6C and a D8APC-BLK cylinder in the toolbox for magnetizing screwdrivers, locating studs, etc.

What have we missed? If you can think of any more magnets commonly found at home, email us and we'll add it here!

The Internet

(How do you take a picture of the Internet?)

I know we mentioned hard drives already, but stop for a moment and imagine a world without hard drives. There would not be an Internet as we know it.

There would be no cloud, no Google Mail, no huge sea of information for a smartphone to access. The information explosion of PCs, smartphones and online storage of information is all ultimately built on little magnetic bits stored on hard drives.

Other magnetic stuff, which might not include permanent magnets

Since we’re in the business of selling magnets, this article focused on permanent magnets and their uses. This ignores the much larger world of magnetic materials, used in everything from transformers to hard drive discs. Even if they aren’t permanent magnets, there’s an even larger number of devices that power our technological lives based on magnetism.

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