Introduction: "Mine" Your Own Ferromagnetic Metal (slivers)...

Picture of "Mine" Your Own Ferromagnetic Metal (slivers)...

Tired of paying for that ferrous metal scraps that you mostly use for entertainment purposes among other things. Well here's how you can make your own ferrous metal scraps that you can use for such things as: ferrofluid, science classes/entertainment (put the magnet under the paper to teach about magnetism), etc.

Materials you'll need are:
1. Big, strong magnet (or several small ones. I used my modified 6x8 speaker magnet)
2. Little, strong magnet (I used one of my magnetic darts)
3. Hoe (optional)
4. Plastic sandwich bags
5. Mortar and pestle
6. Small container and a lid
7. Large container

Step 1: Finding a Good Fishing Hole....and Cast Out.

Picture of Finding a Good Fishing Hole....and Cast Out.

One of the best areas to find a good source of ferrous metals is the ground....No seriously, where do you think metal comes from? Don't answer that...

A mixture of gravel and sand is usually one of the better spots for this (beaches are also great, but I'm not there).

1. Use the hoe to break up the surface of the ground into a small pile of dirt.
2. Put your large magnet into one of the sandwich bags and hold onto it with your hand. Keep the large container close by.
3. Now start to sweep the ground as shown in the last picture. You can push the pile of dirt out, to get at the metals underneath. Move your hand with the magnet around as if you were washing the ground....

Step 2: Reel 'er In....Grind 'er Up.

Picture of Reel 'er In....Grind 'er Up.

1. When you look at the bottom of your magnet, you should see pebbles, sand, and slivers of metal sticking to the bottom side. Now put your magnet over the large container and peel the bag away from the magnet, starting from the top (Just to clarify things....keep the magnet inside the bag and use your other hand to seperate the side of the bag with metal on it away from the magnet so that the metal will fall into your container). Now repeat until you think you have enough.

2. Now get your mortar and pestle out. Pour a small amount of your mixture into it. Grind it until you get a fine powder. This will also allow the pebbles with the ferrous metals inside to release them.

Step 3: Finish It All Up...

Picture of Finish It All Up...

1. Now pour a little bit of the powder into the lid. Shake the lid to spread the powder out thin.

2. Take the small magnet and place it inside another sandwich bag (at the tip). Now scan over the powdered mix, but don't get too close or you'll end up with some paramagnetic materials which are only weakly attracted to magnets (we don't want the weak stuff). So stay around .25"-.5" above the powder. This will allow the magnet to attract the ferromagnetic materials, while keeping the other away.

3. After you've scanned enough so that the tip is covered, place the magnet over the small container and pinch the tip of the bag (along with the metals) and pull the magnet away from the corner. The metal will now drop into the container (as long as you remember to let go).

Once you're done and there's nothing left to attract (except the paramagnetic materials), throw away the "dirt" and start the process again.

All the ferrous metal in the picture below was gathered and processed within an hour. Slow going I know, but saves a bundle. I'm actually in the process of designing a contraption to make this process faster and easier. But until then....Have fun.


thoraxe (author)2008-03-29

Cool! i'm gonna make a charcoal furnace, and put this inside and make my own iron!

-Aj- (author)thoraxe2008-04-08

im going to make a charcoal furnace (if you can call it that) and make charcoal for my blackpowder mill! its called, get pinecones, an empty CLEAN pain tin (dont want vapors of death coming out) punch afew holes in the lid, chuck in some pine cones put the lid back on. (this is a metal paint tin, ofcourse) and put it on a gas burner or even on a fire. you will see gas/ steam stuff come out of the holes, after awhile the steam stuff will stop, this means the pine cones are now completely dehydrated. take it off the heat, wait for it to cool would be good, then open. you will have much shrunken pine cones that are black. this is very good charcoal. the best pine cones to use are ones that have opened but are still that nice reddy brown colour.

thoraxe (author)-Aj-2008-04-09

or, and harder but more efficient way is on this site:
but i blacksmith with it, so i need much larger amounts than you will, so your method if perfect 4 u.
oh, and did u know that those vapors coming from the can are flammable?

strmrnnr (author)thoraxe2011-12-30

Hey Dude, Happy Holidays.

Just to point out your link is broken. I don't know if this new one compares to the broken link, but it reads good.


thoraxe (author)strmrnnr2011-12-30

Yea if you check the date, that post was from 2008. The link is similar, but I believe the link I posted had a different method. I believe it was this method that is more efficient in making charcoal

strmrnnr (author)thoraxe2012-01-29

Yes this is the guy I learnt that process from also for small scale charcoal.

-Aj- (author)thoraxe2008-04-10

thanks for the link.
yeah id expect that they gases would be flammable, although i thought the majority was water vapor, might depend on the wood. like eucalyptus as opposed to pine.
i like the idea about re directing the vapors back and using them to do the cooking though, good idea that one.
yeah i would use 200L or 44gal drum (same thing) but i dont have one that i can use. all have/ had elf fuel in them. explosion if not washed out properly = do not want.

history323 (author)2009-10-02

instead of a mortar and pestle coulld you use a ball mill?

Jaycub (author)history3232009-10-17

It's probably overkill but it should work the same. You might also try using a glass bottle or something for a rolling pin to smash it up, that's what i have done in the past to make realy fine and well mixed gunpowder (i used thick cardboard tubes though because glass is good at making static).

history323 (author)Jaycub2009-10-20

 by the way cool 'ible
  liked it alot!!!

AlexTheGreat (author)2006-09-15

I usually just skim the floor with a 1in by 1/2 in neodnium magnet after I grind metal. then i add it to this (it winds around the pole)

I also collect the "trimmings" of metal that I happen to grind, but that way takes a while (at least for me, cause I don't really have anything to grind). Nice picture though. The way I've just shown though, doesn't require any metal to be ground down (except by mortar and pestle) and parents can keep their kids busy. Tell them that evey pound of ferrous metal they bring to them, they'll give them like a dollar or something (kind of like on Spanglish). Now only if I had some kids.

twisted (author)FrenchCrawler2007-06-26

time to make some kids!!!!

corey_caffeine (author)twisted2009-02-03


Kaiven (author)AlexTheGreat2008-10-18


benthekahn (author)2008-11-28

In ocean beach in san francisco, this stuff is everywhere. My dad and I harvested two five gallon buckets of it in about an hour.

dakellymon (author)2008-11-25

here they are.

dakellymon (author)2008-11-25

Here are some photos of some magnetite, I collected over 20 pounds of this on a sandy beach along Lake Michegan. It is actually bunch of tiny magnets. You can see how they line up and attach to each other in the picture with the dime. It is very magnetic and for some reason, whatever other metal it is mixed with keeps it from oxidising. 10 lbs of it fits into about 1/4 high in a one gallon milk jug.

lil jon168 (author)2008-08-01

can u melt them down*

Andrew546 (author)2006-09-15

That's my size 12 shoe next to it for reference. That took me all of 2 minutes to collect. Thats a 1 gallon zip loc by the way.

Vendigroth (author)Andrew5462007-06-09

that ground looks FULL of the stuff! the wavy-ish stuff on the ground, in fornt of your foot in the second picture, is that ferromagnetic minerals, too?

Andrew546 (author)Vendigroth2007-06-09

yup, thats the stuff. It collects on the surface of this sandy-bottomed wash (dry stream bed) after floods. you can find patches of the stuff like shown in the picture all up and down the wash. And this is only one a of many washes in the area.

Vendigroth (author)Andrew5462007-06-09

adn for 2 minutes of work, you get a couple of pounds of stuff? If i lived there, i'd have tried to make my own steel out of it by now, but i've got no ore Tho i AM letting some iron rust, though it's not going real quickly, so once i've got some oxide, i can try to refine it.

matstermind (author)Vendigroth2008-05-14

I get that out of just normal sand.

Andrew546 (author)Vendigroth2007-06-09

hmm, interesting idea.

xenobiologista (author)Andrew5462007-05-30

Andrew, it looks like you need to start buying up land in your area before the mining companies notice. Then live off the proceeds and never work again.

FrenchCrawler (author)Andrew5462006-09-15

Nice. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luck you do. So we grind or mine (or some people buy)....

-Aj- (author)2008-04-08

nice job there mate, a really good one i found is rutile deposits at the beach. or what some people might call, "black sand". its a mixture of Titanium oxide and Iron oxide. the titanium is NOT magnetic but the iron is and can be separated with a magnet. it is very fine too. another plus is you then have fairly pure titanium oxide, always fun for doing stuff with :D

Tobita (author)2008-02-26

your ring looks a little like the one of Felix-Leclerc.

Protocol512 (author)2007-10-14

Wow, props dude,.. never would have thought of this myself. thanks! But just a tip,.. you can also sand down ferrites into a fine powder. The tube shaped, magnet looking things attached to controllers, mouses and keyboard cords. Seems to work BEST of everything I've ever used.

Subvert (author)2007-09-02

I'm a little surprised at how cool this is to me. (But I DO know why I like it so much... free neat stuff right out of the ground!) It makes me think of the episode of Ham On The Street where he makes this awesome salad out of the dandelions in a yard.

679x (author)2006-09-26

what exactly is ferromagnetic metal used for

FrenchCrawler (author)679x2006-09-28

1. It's used for making ferrofluids much like:
But instead of ink you use these filings and mix them into some vegetable oil (you need more filings then oil).

2. Used by teachers to demonstrate how magnetic fields work.
3. Can also be used to entertain kids. Give them a bag of iron filings, a magnet, and a piece of paper (or flat container) and they'll be memerized by how the filings interact with the magnet.
4. If you have alot of time on your hands and a good furnace, you could melt the filings together a start making your own metals. Which then you could turn into magnets or other fun objects.

Vendigroth (author)FrenchCrawler2007-03-05

melt it down with charcoal in a clay crucible and make your own steel. Add other stuff form different properties.

iamcroweman (author)2006-09-17

Just go to any auto repair shop and ask them for some "brake lathe shavings " This will give you pounds of material. Might also be a good sourcee for black iron oxide

spinach_dip (author)iamcroweman2006-09-29

Hmm, I've seen brake lathe chips, and they arn't very fine. Might be doable Anyway, If you can talk to a copy repair person, get him/her to give you some spent developer. It's primarily finely divided steel grit. It also has some copy toner mixed in with it. I'd recommend washing the developer with a dollar store bottle of rubbing alcohol. Really, they just throw the stuff away in the trash. Severa pounds at a time.

That's good to know. Thanks for the info. I'll have to see if the local shops will do this or not (They may recycle it all for $$$).

Lithoboli (author)2006-09-27

it's times like this where imagination comes into play, i think that if you mix iron (Fe) with sulfuric acid (H2SO4) then it makes rotten egg gas which really really stinks bad. Do i smell a prank brewing?

Andrew546 (author)2006-09-15

In the wash behind my house, the metal particles like this collect on top of the sand after a flood, so you can just wave a magnet over the top of the sand (no need to break it up at all) and easily come up ith as much metal as you could possible want.

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