Easy Way to Get Metal Filings for Ferrofluid

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Introduction: Easy Way to Get Metal Filings for Ferrofluid

About: I'm one hell of a guy, what can I say, hey and as a human being, I even feature a cranial capacity of 1350cc, how's that for feature listing?

After some searching on here, it seems a lot of people get metal filings using acetone and old tapes. Others "can" go into a shop and ask for filings, but chances are they aren't that fine to begin with and might be "dirty". I'll show you how to do it yourself with a chunk of iron, steel, basically any chunk of metal that you have that is magnetic.

Also, I apologize for the poor pictures as all I have is a web cam that's probably around the 0.7mp mark. I did have a 2mp digital olympus digital camera, but it decided to stop working. If anyone would be willing to give me a old digital camera or something (2mp seems like old tech to people these days but it works for me >_<).

Step 1: Gather Your Killing, Err Regular Tools

Well, I'm sure this could be done with a file, but dremeling would result in much finer and more filings.

What you need to start:

1xDremel
1xStone cut off disk
1xScrap of metal you want to use
1xContainer to collect the filings
1xMagnet to play with it afterwords

And perhaps some eyewear so you don't get nast things in your eys. Also, I happen to have one of these "rainbow vac" vacumm cleaners/air filter. For those who don't know what this thing is, it is basically a "water" vacumm that uses water instead of regualr paper or bagless cups to collect the dust/dirt. It is also designed to run without the hose to filter the air. So in short words, it's a 2300 watt vacumm (not kidding, says right on the spec sheet) and I sat infront of it while doing this. You will find it hand to have a vacumm or something as there is a lot of dust/fumes and isn't too good for your cloths/lungs and or eyes.

Step 2: Get at It, and Please Don't Cut Your Finger Off, Even If It Is Tempting

What you want to do is re-arrange yourself so that the wheel is spinning forwards (away from you) and the sparks/filings will go into the container if you hold it over top of it. Don't hold it 10 inches above the container, but rather, an inch or less, but whatever you are comforable with. If you hold it higher up, the filings will go all over and make a mess. So what you want to do, is instead of moving the dremel along the axis the wheel is turning, like you were going to cut it in half, go up and down, don't push too hard either. Continue this till you have a load of shavings in your container. It may take some time too depending on your metal of choice. I was interuppted when I was doing it, and hence I don't have very much in the cylindrical tube show in the beggining picture.

Step 3: Play With It, Make Ferrofluid

Take your large container and use a funnel, or as I did, a measuring cup, pour it into the funnel into your container of choice, or just play around with it in the container you collected it in. But I chose to put it in a seperate container as there was a lot of rust dust in the container I colllected it in and didn't want to be stiring it up. Enjoy

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    54 Discussions

    Think I could make money selling this stuff? xD Thats a 1 gallon bag filled with iron fillings that i collected in about five minutes from the dry wash behind my house. And there's plenty more where that came from. That thing in the upper left corner is the big ol' magnet I used to collect it with. Supposedly it came from some sort of radar equipment or something like that. Second image shows my size 12 shoe next to the magnet in the bag, covered in iron. And all around me on the ground is the iron.

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    14 replies

    What the hell?!?! What is a dry wash? This is insane, you could make thermite with that eh

    A wash (AKA arroyo) is like a creek that runs only seasonally. In my case, this thing only has water in it 0-3 times a year. At all other times it a bone dry bed of sand with iron particles everywhere. Its only purpose it to drain water during flash floods.

    Wikipedia knows all

    Now I just need to get my hands on an etch-a-sketch or two and some magnesium ribbon.... :-p

    Speaking of which, I actually started dremeling this iron off chunks of metal for that purpose, I wasn't planning on making ferrofluid, that would just be a waste. Do you think aluminum off a ladder would work? Cuz I got a old ladder that one of the metal feet fell off I'm sure no one would miss.

    I mentioned etch-a-sketches because they use a very fine aluminum powder, but i suppose a ladder might work. Just seems a little time consuming. If only aluminum powder was as plentiful and easy to collect in my backyard as iron. *sigh*

    If you have a Dremel or electric sander, then attack that ladder with it and soon you'll have a pile of aluminum powder. I use a belt sander with 80 grit
    sandpaper and in 10 or 20 minutes I've got a big pile of aluminum on the newspaper I put under it to catch the powder.

    I'm sure if it were magnetic, there would be "lots" to collect, but unfortunatly it isn't and even if it were, how would you know or even seperate the iron from aluminum. The world is full of "ifs" *shakes head*. How much are etch a sketches? Then again, I prolly shouldn't buy one because I would end up playing with it and never taking it apart :-). The reason I asked about the ladder is because I'm not sure if that would be pure enough aluminum.

    Yes, a ladder would likely be pure aluminum... so would a street sign or a screen door... but you're going to want something finer than filings for a proper reaction... it really should be a powder, and I imagine an etch-a-sketch is perfect for that.... Come to think of it, I never really realized that's what's in an etch-a-sketch, but it makes perfect sense now... Isn't aluminum powder controlled in some way? Do they still use pure aluminum in etch-a-sketches?

    Why are you bothering with Aluminium?

    Thermite. It's a mixture of iron oxide and aluminum that makes molten iron and a nice fireworks show when lit on fire. In industry, its used for such purposes as welding train tracks together.

    Be extremely careful when you do this. Thermite is much hotter and much more dangerous than you think. You can order fine aluminum powder off of ebay as well as the iron oxide powder. If you're trying not to spend money find an old piece of iron, scrape the surface rust, wet it and set it out. should give you enough eventually. For aluminum powder a cheap harbor freight portable bandsaw (or use someones) with a fine blade and just cut away. A metalworking hobbyist reportedly accidentally created thermite with a bad outcome. People with my hobby watch out for that. Make sure it is aluminum. If it has a HARD surface it is either magnesium or a heat treated "aged" al alloy.

    thermite is not made out of only iron its iron oxide. But with a few steps like rusting you could make ferrous oxide

    hey andrew, if you have that much iron in your dry wash, i would look for gold in it. ya never know

     hey can you send me a bag please
    email back and i can give you my address

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    Moogle

    11 years ago

    I collected a large amount of filings from a friend who was using a dremel to cut coils of steel wire to make chainmail. You can also clean the filings by doing pretty much what Andrew did and putting a magnet in a plastic bag, waving it over the pile to pick up the iron bits and dumping the rest, then invert the bag, pull off the magnet, and repeat a few times. I was dumb and used vegetable oil for my ferrogoo. Mineral oil should work better I'd think. Lately everyone's being lame and buying their rings for chainmail online. :/

    3 replies

    I bought a chainmaille shirt (and coif) off of eBay like a year ago for $85 including S/H. My brother decided that he wanted to make one for himself this year and started making the coils on the metal rods and cutting them off with my dremel. He, of course, gave up once he realized just how long it was going to take him. I had started making a "machine" to quickly coil the wire for him, but never finished it cause he quit before I could. It would have also been faster if he let gravity cut the rings off the rod for him. This is more or less how far he got....

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