Magnesium is magnetic


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Imagine a world without the Eiffel Tower, photosynthesis, or even the spark that starts your car every morning. It’s hard to picture. Yet, with magnesium, these are possible. This seemingly ordinary element, often overshadowed by its flashier counterparts on the periodic table, is a silent hero in our daily lives. 

Holding the eighth position in abundance in the Earth’s crust, Magnesium is a multifaceted metal characterized by its lightness and durability. Our bodies use it for more than 300 biochemical reactions, it is essential for plant life, and it plays a vital role in a variety of applications, from fireworks to aircraft building. 

But beyond these well-known facts lies a question that has intrigued scientists and everyday enthusiasts:  Magnesium is magnetic?


Magnetism, a phenomenon we often associate with materials like iron or nickel, is fundamentally about aligning electrons in a material in response to a magnetic field. Ferromagnetism, a form of magnetism, is distinguished by its significant pull towards magnetic fields. 

Yet, this isn’t the sole manifestation of magnetism. Other types exist, including diamagnetism and paramagnetism, characterized by their mild repulsion from or attraction to magnetic fields. So, where does magnesium fit in this spectrum? Magnesium, a lightweight, silvery-white metal, falls into the category of diamagnetic materials. 

This classification is due to its atomic structure, with a filled outer electron shell leaving no unpaired electrons to align with a magnetic field. Instead, when exposed to a magnetic field, magnesium’s electrons create an opposing field, resulting in a slight repulsion – a key characteristic of diamagnetism. 

Therefore, magnesium is not magnetic in the traditional sense of being strongly attracted to a magnetic field. Even so, the interaction of magnesium with magnetic fields, due to its diamagnetic attributes, does exhibit a kind of magnetic behavior, although this magnetic effect is comparatively subtle. 

So, is the statement “Magnesium is magnetic” a fact or myth? It hinges on our understanding of magnetism. If we stick to the conventional definition, it’s a myth. But if we consider any interaction with magnetic fields as a form of magnetism, then it’s a fact.

What is Magnetism?

Magnetism is a force that exerts an attraction or repulsion between objects due to the motion of electric charges. This is an essential characteristic of matter, stemming from the quantum mechanical attributes of particles such as electrons.

Explanation of How Magnetism Works

An atom’s magnetic field arises from the spin and orbital motion of its electrons. These motions generate tiny magnetic fields. In most materials, these individual magnetic fields cancel each other out due to the random orientation of electron spins. In some materials, these fields line up, generating an overall magnetic field and causing the material to exhibit magnetic properties.

Different types of Magnetism: Diamagnetism, Paramagnetism, Ferromagnetism

Three primary types of magnetism exist: Diamagnetism, Paramagnetism, and Ferromagnetism. Diamagnetic materials, such as copper or gold, produce a weak magnetic field opposing the applied field, causing a slight repulsion. 

Paramagnetic substances, like aluminum or platinum, align with the applied field and exhibit a weak attraction to it, which ceases when the external field is removed. Ferromagnetic materials, including iron, cobalt, and nickel, strongly attract magnetic fields due to the alignment of their atomic magnetic moments, even persisting in the absence of an external field.

Relationship between Magnetism and Elements in the Periodic Table

The magnetic properties of elements are intrinsically linked to their electron configurations. Elements with unpaired electrons, such as iron, cobalt, and nickel, are typically magnetic because the magnetic fields from the unpaired electrons do not cancel out. Typically, elements with electron pairs do not possess magnetic characteristics because the fields of these pairs offset each other. This accounts for why some elements exhibit magnetism while others do not.


Deep Dive into Magnesium

Magnesium, often known by its initials Mg, is something I like to think of as the lightweight champion of the periodic table. It’s number 12 on the chart and belongs to alkaline earth metals. This substance, characterized by its lustrous, silver-white appearance, is impressively lightweight yet incredibly resilient.

Let’s get sciencey but still keep things manageable. Magnesium loves to react with other elements, making it rather popular in chemical reactions. For instance, it can take over the job of hydrogen in boiling water.

But magnesium isn’t just a lab superstar. It’s got some severe real-world applications, too. Because it’s light and robust, car makers love it for creating parts that don’t weigh vehicles down. And guess what? Aircraft makers think it’s cool too.

Now, let’s talk about you and me. See, our bodies need magnesium. It’s involved in over 300 reactions inside us. It helps with everything from making proteins to controlling our blood pressure. Should our bodies not receive the required amount of magnesium – approximately 400 mg daily for males and 320 mg for females – we could experience health complications such as high blood pressure and muscle spasms.

So, how do we ensure we get enough magnesium in our diet? The good news is that it’s found in many common foods. For instance, regular consumption of almonds and spinach can help meet your daily magnesium needs. Additionally, magnesium is available as dietary supplements and salts if needed.

Magnesium: Types, Benefits, and Recommendations for a Healthy Lifestyle

Magnesium, a critical yet often overlooked mineral, is essential to our bodies. As the fourth most common mineral in our bodies, Magnesium is essential for numerous biochemical reactions like energy creation, protein formation, and blood pressure regulation. Despite its vital importance, a significant number of diets require a greater incorporation of magnesium. Fortunately, a variety of magnesium supplements exist to address this nutritional shortfall.

Different Types of Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium Citrate: Citric acid is combined with this form of magnesium. It’s well-absorbed by the body and often used to treat constipation and acid indigestion.

Magnesium Oxide: One of the most common forms available, magnesium oxide, has a higher percentage of elemental magnesium but is less bioavailable. It’s frequently utilized as a tool for constipation relief and may assist in alleviating migraine headaches.

Magnesium Glycinate: This form is considered highly bioavailable and gentle on the stomach. It’s often recommended for those with magnesium deficiency and can promote sleep and ease anxiety.

Magnesium Chloride: Magnesium chloride, commonly available in forms like oil or lotion, can penetrate the skin. This feature helps preserve skin vitality, detoxify, and promote efficient muscle function.

Magnesium L-threonate: This newer magnesium supplement is thought to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane effectively. It may enhance cognitive function.

Dosages and Potential Side Effects: The daily magnesium requirement can differ based on factors like age and gender. Typically, the range for adults falls between 310 mg and 420 mg. Magnesium supplements are usually available as pills or in powdered form. If you’re considering starting a supplement, it’s advisable to begin with a minimal dosage and slowly adjust upwards as necessary.

burn magnesium

Magnesium melting point

Magnesium, a valuable element in the periodic table, boasts a melting point of 650 degrees Celsius, or 1202 degrees Fahrenheit. This exact temperature signifies where this silver-white metal transforms from a solid form to a liquid. Although magnesium’s melting point is relatively lower than some other metals, its lightness makes it an invaluable asset in numerous industries. 

Magnesium’s unique combination of lightness and durability offers immense benefits, particularly in the aerospace and automotive sectors, where reducing weight without compromising strength is crucial. Therefore, while its melting point is essential, it is just one facet of magnesium’s multidimensional role in industrial applications.

Is Magnesium Paramagnetic or Diamagnetic?

Magnesium’s magnetic properties have been discussed among scientists due to its unique electronic configuration. The debate revolves around whether it is paramagnetic or diamagnetic, with these terms referring to the magnetic tendencies of an element.

Paramagnetism implies that an element is weakly attracted to magnetic fields, often due to the presence of unpaired electrons. On the flip side, diamagnetism is characterized by a minor resistance to magnetic fields, typically due to the pairing of all electrons.

Magnesium has a complete electron configuration with an atomic number of 12, meaning all its electrons are paired. This fact would typically categorize it as diamagnetic. However, some sources suggest that magnesium displays paramagnetic behavior, which contradicts the conventional understanding.

This apparent contradiction arises from the complex nature of magnetism at the atomic level, which can sometimes defy straightforward classification. While further research is needed to determine magnesium’s magnetic properties conclusively, the prevailing consensus leans towards its being diamagnetic due to its electron configuration.

What is Magnesium Metal Used for?

Furnace Linings Material: Magnesium compounds, particularly magnesium oxide (MgO), are refractory in furnace linings. These linings are beneficial when producing iron, steel, nonferrous metals, and glass. MgO’s heat-resistant characteristics allow it to endure extreme heat without liquefying or deteriorating.

Protective Coatings: Magnesium, an electropositive metal, is often used to coat iron and steel structures. It corrodes preferentially to those metals, providing a protective layer against rust and damage.

Machining Operations: Magnesium is the most accessible structural metal to machines, making it a popular choice when many machining operations are required. Its low mass and straightforward workability make it perfect for intricate production procedures.

Weight Reduction Applications: The use of magnesium alloys spans across various industries globally. It’s the preferred material for weight reduction without compromising strength and durability. Using lightweight materials in the automotive and aerospace sectors is crucial as they can significantly improve fuel economy.

Construction: After iron and aluminum, magnesium is the third most used metal in construction. Almost 70% of the world’s magnesium production goes into making alloys used extensively in construction due to their strength and lightness.

Pyrotechnics and Photography: Magnesium emits a brilliant white light when burned, making it valuable in pyrotechnics, flares, and photographic flashbulbs. The lightest metal can be used for such purposes, adding to its appeal in these fields.

Is Magnesium Oxide Magnetic?

Magnesium Oxide (MgO) is typically non-magnetic, mainly because magnetic characteristics are often observed in compounds with at least one unpaired electron, which MgO does not have.

Nonetheless, certain scientific studies propose that under particular conditions, such as the presence of voids or flaws in the MgO structure, there’s a possibility for the manifestation of some magnetism. For instance, the occurrence of a single void in magnesium might have the capability to create a magnetic moment, thereby potentially inducing a ferromagnetic event.

Experiment Demonstrating Magnesium’s Magnetic Properties 

In its pure form, magnesium is not typically known to exhibit magnetism. However, it could demonstrate magnetic properties under certain conditions, such as vacancy defects. The purpose of this experiment is to explore this occurrence.

Materials Required

  • A magnesium strip
  • A strong magnet
  • A multimeter
  • Safety goggles and gloves


Safety First: Start by wearing safety goggles and gloves. Magnesium can react violently with some substances, and you must ensure your safety first.

Prepare the Magnesium Strip: Take the magnesium strip and clean it thoroughly to remove any impurities. Make sure it is scorched before proceeding to the next step.

Test for Magnetism: Bring the strong magnet close to the magnesium strip. Observe if there is any attraction between the magnesium strip and the magnet.

Measure Magnetic Field: If there’s no visible attraction, use a multimeter to measure any possible magnetic field around the magnesium strip when it is near the magnet.

Results and Explanation: If the magnesium strip does not show any visible reaction to the magnet, it indicates that magnesium does not exhibit ferromagnetic properties in its pure form. Nonetheless, magnesium might display magnetic characteristics under specific situations if the multimeter identifies a magnetic field.

Remember that this experiment’s basic form does not consider the possible effects of inconsistencies or voids within the magnesium structure. Some scientific evidence suggests these elements may induce magnetism. To study this fascinating phenomenon in greater depth, using more advanced experimental methods may be helpful.

Safety Precautions:

  • While conducting this experiment, it is crucial to observe the following safety precautions:
  • Wear Protective Gear: Gloves and safety goggles should be worn  when handling magnesium to protect against unexpected reactions.
  • Use magnesium Responsibly: Magnesium can ignite and burn brightly when heated, so avoid any sources of heat or flame during the experiment.
  • Handle Magnet with Care: The strong magnet used in this experiment can attract metallic objects forcefully, which could cause injury. Always handle it carefully.
  • Dispose of Materials Properly: After the experiment, dispose of the magnesium strip responsibly to prevent potential environmental harm.
magnesium in a beaker

Common Misconceptions about Magnesium and Magnetism

Overview of Common Misconceptions About Magnesium’s Magnetic Properties

Several things need to be clarified about the magnetic properties of magnesium, a silver-white alkaline earth metal, which could be improved. One such misunderstanding is that magnesium is inherently magnetic, possibly because many metals are known to exhibit magnetism. 

A commonly held false belief is that magnesium can acquire magnetic attributes under specific surroundings. Some mistakenly think magnesium can either draw in or repel other magnetic objects.

Debunking These Misconceptions with Scientific Facts

Science, however, provides clear evidence dispelling these myths. In its pure state, magnesium does not exhibit magnetism. As a result, its electron configuration lacks unpaired electrons, a necessary feature for a substance to be ferromagnetic or paramagnetic. 

There are no recognized circumstances that can impart magnetic properties to magnesium. The belief that magnesium can attract or repel magnets likely arises from observing magnesium in combination with other elements or materials that do possess magnetic properties.

Discussion on Why These Misconceptions Exist

The persistence of these misconceptions could be attributed to several factors. The general confusion about magnetism, misunderstandings about metals and their properties, and misinformation are significant contributors. Furthermore, the intricate concept of magnetism and the specialized language used to describe it can pose challenges for individuals who need a scientific background. 

Even though magnesium doesn’t possess magnetic properties, it exhibits distinct interactions with magnetic fields due to its ability to conduct electricity. An instance is when an electric current is generated in magnesium as it is brought close to a potent magnet, a phenomenon frequently misinterpreted as proof of inherent magnetism in magnesium.

FAQs about Magnesium Metal

  • What is Magnesium Metal?
  • Magnesium is a shiny gray metal known for its light weight and strength and is Earth’s eighth most abundant element.
  • What are the critical characteristics of Magnesium Metal?
  • Magnesium is lightweight, vital for its weight, and resistant to denting. Additionally, it demonstrates superior conductivity for both heat and electricity.
  • How is Magnesium Metal used in everyday life?
  • A wide variety of industries use magnesium extensively, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, and healthcare. Additionally, it plays a significant role in creating fireworks and flares.
  • How is Magnesium Metal produced?
  • Magnesium is typically produced through electrolysis of magnesium salts obtained from brine or by thermal reduction of magnesium compounds.
  • Is Magnesium Metal safe to handle?
  • While magnesium is not toxic, inhaling magnesium dust or fumes can be harmful. Use protective equipment when handling magnesium.
  • Can Magnesium Metal catch fire?
  • Magnesium is highly flammable, especially when powdered or shaved into thin strips. It should never be put out with water as this can cause a dangerous reaction.
  • Is Magnesium Metal magnetic?
  • No, there are no recognized circumstances that can impart magnetic properties to magnesium.
  • Does Magnesium Metal corrode?
  • Magnesium corrodes when exposed to certain conditions, Protecting the metal from further corrosion by forming an oxide layer.
  • What happens when Magnesium Metal reacts with water?
  • Magnesium reacts with water to produce magnesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas, which can be hazardous if ignited.
  • Is Magnesium Metal recyclable?
  • Magnesium can be entirely recycled and incorporated into new items without degrading its characteristics.

Last words

To sum up, magnesium’s unique attributes, such as complete recyclability and excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, have been the main discussion points in this blog. Although not inherently magnetic, specific treatments can induce magnetic properties in magnesium, making it an intriguing element. 

The sustainability and versatility of magnesium, coupled with its potential magnetic characteristics, underscore its significance in various industries. As ongoing studies continue to unlock more about magnesium’s properties, its use could revolutionize many fields, affirming its importance in our everyday lives.

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