Neodymium magnets are incredibly strong permanent magnets made using an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron. The neo magnets discovered in the 1980s are 50% stronger than the next strongest known magnetic material samarium cobalt.
We now know neodymium magnets, neodymium, iron, boron (NIB) magnets are the strongest magnets but If you had a magnet or bought a magnet how would you know that magnet is made up of neodymium?
There are a few ways you can identify if a magnet is made up of neodymium.
Check the label, marking or engravings on the Magnet
Buying a New Magnet? Confirm from Manufacturer
If you bought a magnet or intend to buy one from an online store like Amazon first read the product description and reviews to confirm the manufacturer clearly states that the magnet is made up of neodymium.
How do you know if a Magnet you have is Neodymium?
You can buy your magnet from many different stores in person or online, but most of the neodymium magnets are manufactured in China. So, if you already have a magnet, check for any labels, markings or engravings on the magnet. Don't look at the engravings on the hex nut or the eye bolt, look closely at the magnet.
Conduct tests to determine if a magnet is Neodymium
Test 1: Color – Shiny Metallic Silver
Almost all of the neo magnets you buy from stores are shiny metallic silver in color. You can identify neodymium magnets using this color. This is due to the fact that neodymium magnets are made with an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron and the iron can rust if left unprotected from moisture. To protect the magnet, neodymium magnets are triple coated – first a layer of nickel followed by a layer of copper and then a final layer of nickel again on top.
The shiny metallic silver color you see on your neo-magnet comes from this nickel coating.
The ferrite magnets are usually black in color but many ferrite magnets are painted to be red and blue to depict the north and south poles of the magnet.
Test 2: Pulling Power of Neodymium Magnet
Neodymium magnets are extremely strong and have a huge pulling power. Hence you see warnings of being pinched by the magnet. What this means is that due to its strength, the neodymium magnets can leap and slam into other magnets or iron or steel object and if caught in between can cause serious injury by squashing the human body part caught in between them.
Neodymium magnets have enormous pulling power especially when compared with other ferrite magnets or ceramic magnets. If a neodymium magnet sticks to an iron or steel object you will find it extremely hard to separate it. Even if you are strong adult it will take considerable effort to get the neodymium magnet unstuck. However, the ferrite magnet of the same size will not have such a strength and it can be pulled away or separate much more easily.
For example, if you watch the video below the neodymium magnet call pull a small object like a nail clipper from around 3 inches away. If the object is a much large iron or steel object the pull force will be much larger and much further away.
While the ceramic ferrite magnet are much weaker magnets. As you can see in the video below the ceramic ferrite magnet was able to pull nail clipper only when we got much closer to the magnet.
Test 3: Electrical Conductivity
Ferrite magnet are electrically non-conductive but a Neodymium Iron Boron magnet is electrically conductive.
What this means is that if you use the ferrite magnet as a wire to connect an electric bulb to a battery, it will not light up but if you use a neodymium magnet to connect an electric bulb to a battery, the bulb will light up.
Hence this is another way to differentiate between neodymium and ferrite magnets.
As you can see the neodymium magnets have very distinct properties when compared to other magnets. I am sure trying to electrically test you magnets will be hard but with the other tests you should be able to identify if that magnet you have is made up of neodymium. The biggest give away are the color and the pull strength of the magnet. When you get you hands on a neodymium magnet and realize the power it has it is you will know what I mean and it becomes easier to identify them.