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How To Make Liquid Magnets

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How to Make Liquid Magnets - Materials and Safety
This is a ferrofluid on a sheet of glass, with a magnet underneath.

This is a ferrofluid on a sheet of glass, with a magnet underneath.

Gregory F. Maxwell, GNU Free Documentation License
Safety Considerations
This procedure uses flammable substances and generates heat and toxic fumes. Please wear safety glasses and skin protection, work in a well-ventilated area, and be familiar with the safety data for your chemicals. Ferrofluid can stain skin and clothing. Keep it out of reach of children and pets. Contact your local poison control center if you suspect ingestion (risk of iron poisoning; carrier is kerosene).

Materials

  • household ammonia
  • oleic acid (may be found in some pharmacies, craft, and health food stores)
  • PCB etchant (ferric chloride solution) - from an electronics store or you can make your ferric chloride or ferrous chloride solution or you can use magnetite or magnetic hematite powder if you have either of those minerals handy (magnetic hematite is an inexpensive mineral used in jewelry)
  • steel wool
  • distilled water
  • a magnet
  • kerosene
  • heat source
  • 2 beakers or measuring cups
  • a plastic syringe or medicine cup (something to measure 10 ml)
  • filter papers or coffee filters
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