Introduction: Magnetic Silly Putty

Thinking Putty (also known as Silly Putty) is a silicone polymer children's toy. Silly putty is fun because it has some unique properties: it is viscoelastic, meaning it can be stretched and shaped and mashed back together again; and as its apparent viscosity increases directly with respect to the amount of force applied (read: it can be torn or shattered with impact). Silly putty is a non-Newtonian viscoelastic polymer, better characterized as a dilatant fluid. Also, it bounces.

Ok, enough science. I'm sure we've all played with Thinking Putty in our youth, but how about magnetic silly putty?

By adding a ferrous component to an already wacky toy we can keep all characteristics of the original putty, but now have the additional dimension of magnetism! I've seen magnetic thinking putty for sale on otherwebsites, but I'll show you how you can make your own for a fraction of the price and in about 20 minutes.

Enough talk, let's make some magnetic putty!

Step 1: Tools + Materials


The secret ingredient that makes the putty magnetic is an iron oxide powder, which is ferric (magnetic). Ferric iron oxide is a fine powder used as black pigment and can be found at art stores. If your local artist supply store doesn't carry it, you can always purchase it black iron oxide powderonline.

Step 2: Prepare Putty

Start by clearing a space to work, make sure it is well ventilated. Iron oxide powder is very fine and inhaling it is probably not such a good idea. Put on your gloves and face mask before you begin.

Open the thinking putty and remove from the container. Work the putty in your hands a little to warm it up, then stretch it out like a sheet and lay it on your disposable work surface (sheet of paper or paper plate).

Step 3: Add Iron Oxide

Thinking Putty comes in different sizes, depending on where you purchase it. I found mine in a local toy shop, it comes in an egg-shaped container and is about 24 grams (0.8 oz).

For this size, I used about a tablespoon of iron oxide, you may require more or less depending on your putty size and amount of magnitism desired.

Carefully spoon the iron oxide into centre of putty sheet, then close lid on iron oxide powder to reduce excess iron dust escaping.

Step 4: Work It

Gently fold edges of putty sheet into centre and work the powder into the putty. Go slow, the powder produces lots of dust.

After a minute of massaging the putty it will lose it's colour and begin to look black as pitch. Keep massaging putty for about 3-4 minutes.

Step 5: Experiment and Have Fun!

That's it, you're done! Grab your magnet and start experimenting with your new magnetic putty.

You can stretch out a strand and make it follow your magnet, you can polarize your putty to work as a magnet itself, and then there's the classic of placing the magnet directly on the putty and watching it envelop the magnet. There's plenty of fun to be had, check out the video I made with some of the fun you can do.

Some frames have been sped-up to illustrate magnetic properties.
Of course, aside from being magnetic your putty still retains all the properties of the original Silly Putty.

Putty has been known to leave a residue on some surfaces, even more so with the iron oxide powder. Use caution when playing with your magnetic putty.
If you get magnetic putty stuck to fabric you can try placing the magnet on top of the fabric and the putty may work it's way out (wait 24 hours). Alternatively you can apply rubbing alcohol to area and work out the putty, try a concealed test-area first. WD-40 may also work. If all else fails, take the fabric to the dry cleaners and tell them it's a silicone-based stain.

What are you waiting for? Get going and make your own magnetic putty!
Place a picture or video of your version of magnetic putty in the comments below and earn yourself a digital patch and a 3-month Pro Membership to!

Have fun!


cmencke0891 (author)2017-02-27


super_me (author)2016-12-28

This is actually a product that you can buy - it's called Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, and they also have a magnetic version of it. Just saying... Crazy Aaron have a whole lot of cool Thinking Putty so check it out on Vat 19 or on their website.

PS: this is not a promotion

mikeasaurus (author)super_me2017-01-03

I made this project before magnetic putty was commercially available, the way it is now.

Also, my buy when you can make? :)

super_me (author)mikeasaurus2017-01-06

Sorry, didn't know that you made it before it was available commercially. Anyway, I do like the idea, and I'd like to try it. Btw is the toner thing easy to buy or do you have to buy it from somewhere online?

mikeasaurus (author)super_me2017-01-06
TomV28 (author)2015-10-20

dont be a wimp... i breath asbestos on a daily basis

Greywolfg (author)TomV282016-04-08

Tom, seriously, just stop being a jerk.

TomV28 (author)Greywolfg2016-04-09

Actually, it's true.. What doesn't hurt you, makes you stronger.... That's my motto

pr0cesor (author)TomV282016-05-04

So a gunshot if it doesn't kill u make you stronger? i don't think so.

TomV28 (author)pr0cesor2016-05-08

now you are changing the situation. I'm talking about chemicals... But I guess it could make you mentally stronger to get shot... I would say to myself (if I survived) "wow, I survived a gun shot" and then be proud of myself... But still in physical pain

TomV28 (author)TomV282016-05-08

But then also if I survived a nuclear blast I would say to myself "I must superman.. or a cockroach " it feels good to be positive

Greywolfg (author)pr0cesor2016-05-04

Trololololol xD true

Greywolfg (author)Greywolfg2016-05-04

Tom... xD

Greywolfg (author)TomV282016-04-09

Wow... Just wow..

AnnabellaMarie (author)TomV282015-11-19

Why? There are so many ways NOT to.

MichelleB186 (author)2016-04-24

I really do love this, but it's just not safe for little kids in my mind not for a whole bunch at a party anyways! I think for an at home project with your kids yes because you can just make it when there in bed and let them play with it the next day! but there is also other ways to make this which are safer! but still thanks for the post it's great!

TomV28 (author)2016-04-10

I actually mostly breathed asbestos when I was younger, I had my lungs tested 2 years ago and my doctor said they were in perfect condition

Sallybinzwigs (author)2015-08-22

I'm sorry to be a party pooper but there are some very serious health hazards to be concerned about when handling black oxide of iron! Please check out this health hazard warning before trying this experiment and use a breathing mask if you do plan on doing this for sure!!

It can even change your eye colour after some people have been exposed!

Follow this link for more info on the health hazards of using black iron oxide.

Laral (author)Sallybinzwigs2015-10-18

My eyes changed from brown to brown…

Greywolfg (author)Laral2016-04-08



You realize the link you sent is for Iron Oxide, which is just plain ole rust, created naturally. Granted this is the same name (contains similar chemical composition), it is also a refined product which is produced artificially for the purpose of being a pigment.

Still, like any fine particulate, not good to be breathing in without proper respirator/mask etc.

AidanK4 (author)Sallybinzwigs2015-09-04

But it's only the powder, right? Say, for ferromagnetic fluid, it's going to be suspended in a bottle of liquid. And with this silly putty, it's mixed in. Plus, why would you ever make repeated contact with the powder in the first place? It has no use by itself. You only need it to make whatever, and beyond that point it's safe. At least that's my hope. I don't want to order a big jar and mix it in only to find that I'm gonna up and die from handling the stupid stuff. :(

Laral (author)2015-08-20

I also made two fluorescent colors of putty that glow nicely under black light. I rolled the putty into a ball and set it on top of a plastic container with a powerful cylinder magnet at the top and let it sit for hours until a nice 'bloom' developed. The third one is a ball placed directly on top of a 2" square neodymium magnet.

mikeasaurus (author)Laral2015-10-18

These look amazing! Mind sharing your process for making them luminescent? It's really cool.

Thanks for sharing your pictures, enjoy the Pro Membership!

Laral (author)mikeasaurus2015-10-18

The colors are fluorescent and need a black light to make the glow. I tried using phosphorescent 'glow' powder but with little success. I just add LOTS of fluorescent pigment mixed with a fine gray iron oxide to CLEAR putty from Aaron. I am thinking of doing an Instructable on it. BTW thank you for another 3 months PRO membership. I appreciate it.

Ruby2005 (author)2015-10-18


Cynthia88 (author)2015-08-21

Sooooo, little kid friendly? I'd love to show this to my preschooler and kindergartener, but considering the contents, is that just a horrible idea?

Fishyfish123 (author)2014-05-18

I once got some putty stuck on my pants and I washed it and it but it stayed in. Them I use some goo-gone. It it orange stuff you can buy and it is a miracle. If you ever get any goo stuck on something, no matter what the bottle says, USE IT!

AustynSN (author)Fishyfish1232015-08-20

Goo-gone is awesome. Also good for erasing permanent marker.

arduinoversusevil made it! (author)2015-08-14

I made it, but with less viscous silly putty. I had to add Dimethecone to allow the silly putty to flow better. Also, I used cast iron filings from my metal lathe.


Ha, I had just watched your YouTube video before seeing this comment!

I actually tried this project initially using iron from steel wool, since it was already very fine. The results weren't great. I'm glad to see you had much more success.

I saw your video about kinetic sand and was wondering when you'd tell us your hobby store solution to dimethicone. Watching your silly putty video was revealing, I'd never had thought that RC car shock oil would be the replacement.

Your channel is very entertaining and I never miss an episode. Stay awesome!
(also, for sharing a picture of your magnetic putty here you've got a free Pro Membership)

Laral (author)mikeasaurus2015-08-20

I mentioned using silicone oil over a year ago, a few comments down

and even provided a before and after video about it

DIY Magnetic Putty 'Swallows' 1/2" Cube Magnet in 32.5 Seconds!

Dimethicone is the pure silicone oil that is in RC shock oil and is way cheaper. I bought a half pint of it for under $10 on eBay.


Cheers man, thanks! Because it's a lot less viscous I'm hoping to have success manipulating it with some sequenced electromagnets... Stay tuned! I'll link back to your instructable too. (reach around FTW!)

Pa1963 (author)2015-08-20

I'm gonna mix it with some oobleck and see what happens.

lovethebackwoods (author)2015-08-20

While I was Outside this summer (Outside of Alaska, that is) I bought a small tool in a big box home improvement store. It looks like a small plastic blue "thing." However, one can magnetize or demagnetize screwdrivers, knives, etc. by drawing them several times through one of the two slots. I found it fascinating. (And no, I will not put the magnetic putty that I will surely make soon into the tool just to see - whatever!) Pictures to follow... Thanks for this most interesting project. Very well explained and illustrated!

Momsgottafindit (author)2015-04-16

Will a Home Depot or michaels have the iron oxide? When you call, the kids answering say they don't know what it is


Thank you so much, I (unfortunately) figured that out after driving back n forth in rush hour traffic lol.. I guess on to new idea for project and try that when not in time crunch..THANKS AGAIN!!

micazilla (author)2015-03-24

Is this safe/easy enough for a 7 year old to take to school and combine the 2 there? He has an assignment to make a magnetic toy.

mikeasaurus (author)micazilla2015-03-24

It's messy. Though the iron oxide won't stain once it's in the putty, if any gets spilled before mixing it's going to stain.

Would not recommend without supervision.

DadNerd (author)2015-03-19

Really cool. I'll have to do this with my son when he gets a little older!

JessicaR1 (author)2014-12-19

this just makes me smile all over. A great, fun, STEM project I think.

Curated Quotes (author)2014-11-29

Holy cow. Great project for kids...

davidbarcomb (author)2014-11-25

Really cool project. Thanks for sharing this

LP2 (author)2013-11-23

Thank you !
This looks a lot safer than the Kerosene and chemical acid tutorial on you tube.

cbortizfield (author)2013-09-02

i have a question is the stuff you get off the ground when you place a magnet in the dirt the same as Ferric iron oxide and even if it isn't, if you were to collect enough of it and mix it with the putty would it work the same? (possabily with out turning it black?)

mikeasaurus (author)cbortizfield2013-09-03

When you sweep a magnet over dirt you are likely picking up rust, which is exactly what iron oxide is. This should work, but a powdered iron oxide will produce more favourable results, as the consistancy will be uniform, and you won't have any potential sharp bits from an unknown substance that you collected from the ground.

mikeasaurus (author)2013-08-26

Thanks for sharing your version, the pictures look amazing!
Enjoy the digital patch and the 3-month Pro Membership

Laral (author)mikeasaurus2013-08-26

Wow, thanks! Did you also see the video? I tried to delete the above post and redo it with the video embedded this time. See below.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2013-08-26

That is uber sweet looking!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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