When it comes to magnetism, it often feels like the rules should be pretty simple to understand. Metals are attracted to magnets, and that’s that.
However, anyone who remembers high school physics, or even someone who owns a magnet, will be able to see for themselves that this is not the case, as several metals around the home will not naturally be pulled towards a magnet, no matter how much you try and push the two.
One of the metals that many people often wonder about when it comes to its magnetic qualities is brass, as they don’t know whether it is ferromagnetic like iron and nickel, or it is more like copper, silver, or gold, and does not react at all to a magnetic field.
Well, the short answer is no.
The long answer is a little more complicated and leads to some pretty interesting ends.
So, if you want to learn a little more about magnetism, and how it works, as well as get the long version of your question answered, then keep reading this article to learn more!
Table of Contents
Is Brass Magnetic?
So, we should probably answer the main question of this article.
Well, this is a pretty simple test to carry out for yourself, and all you’ll need is a brass object and a magnet.
You’ll notice that, as you hold the two items close to each other, the brass is completely unresponsive to any magnet, no matter how close you hold them to each other.
What Makes Something Magnetic?
So, we’ve answered the main question that we posed: Does brass stick to magnets? The answer is no.
So, what exactly causes metal to be magnetic in the same way that nickel and iron do? What is it about these elements in particular that stops them from behaving in the same way that metals like brass and gold do?
Well, it all ties back to how the magnetic fields of these materials react to one another.
How Magnetism Works
To help illustrate this point a little better, we should probably quickly explain what magnetism is.
Most people will know that magnets and objects with magnetic qualities have a north and south pole that corresponds to different charges, with one being positive and one being negative.
However, what people often tend to forget is that virtually all matter in the universe will have some kind of magnetic field, whether it is a magnet, an elephant, or the Earth itself.
However, most objects’ fields of magnetism are relatively weak, as the arrangement of the atoms of these objects does not align to create a noticeable effect.
And a decent chunk of that strength can be attributed to the arrangement of electrons in a given atom
Most of us recognize that electrons are the subatomic particles that circle a given atom and carry a negative charge to them.
However, the orbital path that most electrons take in most atoms is pretty much random, with them traveling on different orbital paths and directions
This is where materials such as iron are different.
In magnetic metals, the microstructure of these materials means that their electrons are traveling in a similar or the same direction.
This alignment is crucial, as it allows the stacked effect of their combined electromagnetic field to affect other items with similarly strong magnetic fields.
This is why magnets will affect other metals with strong ferromagnetic properties, such as iron, nickel, and cobalt, and not other objects, such as wood or plastic.
What This Means For Brass
At this point, you can probably see where we are going with what this means for other metals like brass.
In brass, the magnetic field of the metal is comparatively weak, which means that, much like a piece of food or skin, its field will not react around a stronger magnetic field, giving it the non-magnetic qualities it is known for.
Other Metals That Are Not Magnetic
Of course, brass is not the only metal that is not affected by magnets. There is a massive range of metals that also have weak magnetic fields naturally and is noticeably longer than the list of metals that are affected by magnets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Possible To Make Non-Magnetic Metals Into Magnetic Ones?
All of this discussion about metals that have or don’t have magnetic properties leads to some interesting questions about whether or not these elements can be made to react more to magnetic objects.
Well, the answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. At least, not in a state where it would recognizably be the brass that it originally was.
In modern manufacturing, many metals are often made into alloys that have the properties of different metals, but in a single object.
One of the most common is stainless steel, which is often made from a combination of steel with another metal that is resistant to corrosion.
This means that, at least in theory, an alloy that contained brass and some other magnetic metal like iron could become magnetic.
However, if the metal had a high enough percentage of it becoming a non-ferromagnetic metal, it would likely lose much of its potential magnetic power.
What Can Affect A Magnetic Metal’s Magnetic Field?
So, we have covered what magnetic fields are, and how they act in magnetic metals. But can anything be done to affect those qualities?
Well, heat can disturb the ability of iron atoms to hold their magnetic properties, as does losing mass through factors such as corrosion or rusting, or even chipping in some cases.
How Can I Tell If An Object Is Or Isn’t Brass?
The fact that brass isn’t metallic works as a great way to tell if an object is legitimately brass, as a pure brass item will not be attracted to a magnet.
Whereas, if something is merely brass-coated, there is a good chance that it may be affected, and iron will be the material that is being used underneath.
As you can see, brass is just one metal that does not stick to magnets.
We hope you found this guide useful!