preproom.orgThe online science prep room
You are here: Info Library > General Data > Magnets
Info Library

General Data > Magnets

This page lists the most common types of magnets used in school sciences. The photographs can assist identification of the different types available through the main suppliers. Sometimes, old or American texts use alternative names for some of these magnets. We have included these names in the list below.

Typical appearance Magnet Type Description and uses
Plastic coated bar magnets Plastic coated bar magnets These consist of a standard flat rectangular bar magnet encased in plastic. The colours denote each pole and these type are fairly robust although they may crack if repeatedly dropped.
Alnico bar magnets AKA: standard bars Alnico bar magnets AKA: standard bars Alnico is an alloy of aluminium, nickel and cobalt (hence al-ni-co). They also contain either iron, copper or titanium. Very strong magnets. These samples have not got colour denoted poles.
Long cylindrical magnets Long cylindrical magnets Often used to display magnetic field patterns in iron filings. Magnetic field not as strong as thicker bar magnets
Small cylindrical magnets Small cylindrical magnets Often suspended in hangers. Weak magnetic field compared to longer cylindrical magnets. These type lose their magnetic strength fairly easily if manhandled.
Flat and round horseshoe magnets Flat and round horseshoe magnets Traditional looking horseshoe magnets usually have an iron 'keeper' attached which helps preserve the magnetic strength by completing the magnetic field. They are available in round or flat metal types.
‘Major’ magnet AKA: Eclipse major, or major block magnet. 'Major' magnet AKA: Eclipse major, or major block magnet. These type have the strongest magnetic field of those available and have a substantial keeper attached which should remain in place when the magnet is not in use.
Suspension magnets AKA: suspension bars Suspension magnets AKA: suspension bars These are standard cylindrical magnets with a groove cut into them where cotton can be tied. These suspension magnets are a good alternative to a standard cylindrical type and hanger combination.
Ceramic magnets AKA: Magnadur magnets Ceramic magnets AKA: Magnadur magnets These magnets are ceramic and the poles are on the top and bottom. They are mainly used in 'Westminster' motor models and have a strong magnetic field. Ceramic magnets can be identified by their dull grey/black appearance.
Neodymium Magnets Neodymium Magnets These are very strong magnets made from an alloy of neodymium, iron, and boron. Available very cheaply online. They can be identified by their very shiny chrome appearance.
Lodestone AKA: magnetite Lodestone AKA: magnetite These are naturally occurring pieces of magnetite. Easily broken if dropped.
Block magnet AKA: Major block Block magnet AKA: Major block Similar to the Eclipse major, these are cheaper in price and are constricted of three pieces bolted together. Not as strong as the eclipse major but still has a very strong field strength.
Ceramic ring magnet AKA: Ferrite ring magnet Ceramic ring magnet AKA: Ferrite ring magnet These are often stacked on a pole making the top magnet levitate. Usually quite large in diameter.
Ceramic round magnets AKA: pellet magnets Ceramic round magnets AKA: pellet magnets These are often very small and used to make fridge magnets. Ceramic magnets can be identified by their dull grey/black appearance.