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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

DIY Magnetic Silly Putty

By March 11, 2014

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Make magnetic silly putty. (Anne Helmenstine)Putty, specifically Silly Putty, is a cool toy that was originally marketed as an Easter novelty (which is how it came to be sold in eggs). The newest version of the toy is magnetic putty, which is a viscoelastic polymer, just like regular and glowing putty, plus it's magnetic. You can't make Silly Putty yourself unless you have some silicone oil and boric acid to produce polydimethylsiloxane but if you have putty, you only need one more ingredient to make DIY magnetic Silly Putty.

DIY Magnetic Silly Putty

You will need:
  • putty
  • magnetic iron oxide powder
  • strong magnet (recommend neodymium rare earth magnet)
  • paper face mask so you don't breathe in the iron oxide dust
  • disposable gloves because it's a messy project
You can find iron oxide powder online or at some craft stores, where it may be sold as a black pigment. This is basically ground magnetic hematite. There are other forms of iron oxide, too, which are not magnetic, so be sure to get the right kind! Test it with a magnet if you aren't sure you have what you need. If you are truly desperate, use rust, which is the everyday form of this chemical.
  1. Don your mask and gloves. The powder has a tendency to get everywhere, plus breathing it isn't great for you.

  2. Pull or spread the putty out into a flat sheet.

  3. Put about a tablespoon of iron oxide powder onto the center of the putty.

  4. Use your gloved hands to work the iron oxide into the putty. For me, folding the putty over and over worked well to mix in the iron. The color of the putty will darken toward the color of your pigment. Some magnetic iron oxide is black, but it could be brown or reddish (rust-colored).

  5. Stretch out a thin strand of the magnetic putty and see what it does in response to a magnet!

  6. If you store the putty with a strong magnet, the putty will become slightly magnetized and may be able to move small metal objects. The iron oxide makes it attractive to magnets; storing it with a magnet is necessary to make it magnetic.

Comments

April 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm
(1) Morgan says:

Where can you purchase the magnetic iron oxide powder? Not at Home Deport or Hobby Lobby that’s for sure. So where do I go to get it?

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