Monday 11 June 2012

Homemade Electromagnet

Make your own Electromagnet
Oh I had so much trouble finding a nail labelled 'iron nail' then a friend pointed out to me use a steel nail!  Of course if a nail contains iron it will be attract a magnet and it needs to make this project work - so a steel or iron nail will work for this project.

We managed to hook ours just right!
What you will need to make your own electromagnet:

  • A large steel or iron nail about 7cm long
  • About 1m of copper wire of about 20 gauge
  • A fresh battery (I used a 6v)
  • Some paper clips
Making a homemade electromagnet is a lot of fun and very easy but be careful as it does get very hot! 
What you need to do to make your own electromagnet:

Leave about 15cm of wire loose at one end and wrap the copper wire around the nail. Try not to overlap the wires. Then wrap it back the other way and then back again so it is coiled round the nail at least 3 times.

Cut the wire so that there is about another 15 cm loose at the other end.

Attach the one wire end to one end of a battery and the other wire to the other end of the battery.  It is a good idea to tape the wires (with electrical wire) to the battery at least to one side any how – be careful though!  The wire could get very hot!

Now you can experiment by picking up paper clips and small objects and see which ones work and which don't remember only objects containing iron, steel, cobalt or nickel attracts to a magnet..

You might want to try my other post - What attracts to a magnet - and use an electromagnet instead.

What is different about an electromagnet compared to a regular magnet like a fridge magnet? 

Whereas most magnets are permanent magnets like the ones on your fridge an electromagnet can be switch on and off.  When we are talking about magnets and use the word permanent, this just means that you can't switch the magnet off. 
An electromagnet can be switched off as they run on electricity and are only magnetic for the time that electricity is flowing through it.  It is the electricity that flows thought the wire that arranges the molecules in the nail so that they are attracted to certain metals!


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