MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What type of magnetic materials are we finding in typical potting soil?

Date: Tue Oct 31 20:29:10 2000
Posted By: Sojo Luis E., Staff, Reseach and Development, Axelson Biopharma Research
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 971497632.Ch

Ryan, It is possible that what you found at the end of your magnet was pieces of a discarded magnet or some iron mineral. It seems to be the these pieces were small enough to float. The color description you provide hints at the same material used in fridge magnets. These are made of a composite plastics containing traces of magnetite. Magnetite (Fe3O4)is a mineral made of iron oxides. These oxides contain iron in two different oxidation states (Fe(II) and Fe(III), that is iron atoms that have lost two and three electrons respetively). It is believed that this configuration results in the magnetic property called ferromagnetism. Magnetite is found in South Africa, Germany, Rusia and the USA. It is usually associated with hematite which is another iron oxide. I hope this helps.

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