Make a Ferrofluid Glass Display




Introduction: Make a Ferrofluid Glass Display

These are the steps required to make a ferrofluid glass display. Ferrofluid is a magnetic fluid that responds to strong magnetic fields. For this display, we will suspend ferrofluid and water in a glass, and use a magnet to interact with the fluid. Fun and easy!

I made this display at Techshop SF, visit their website here:

Step 1: Necessary Components

From left to right:

-Glass jar
-Strong neodynium magnet
-Light lubricating machine oil (any oil will do)
-MICR, a.k.a. magnetic ink. I ordered this online for about $10. Try searching ebay for magnetic toner refill.
-Mixing tray
-Stir stick

Total, the components cost around $25.

Step 2: Make the Ferrofluid

Mix the machine oil and the magnetic ink. This is where you should play around with the ratios. Too much ink, and you end up with something too viscous to flow. Too little ink, and the mixture is not magnetic enough. I found if you mix them in roughly equal parts, it worked well for me. But play with it to get the mix you want.

Use the stir stick to ensure the oil and ink are well mixed.

Step 3: Mix the Ferrofliud and Water Into the Jar

Put the two together in the jar. I added just a little bit of ferrofluid, and a whole lot of water. If you add too much fluid, it just all sticks together.

This is the finished product! I like to shake the jar up so there are little suspended blobs of ferrofluid, and then bring the magnet to the side of the jar. The blobs race to magnets and converge into one mass that you can move around using the magnet.

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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I did not have luck with magnetic toner for a laser printer. It would bubble up, but was not fine enough, or perhaps had other non magnetic qualities added to it, so it wasn't near as good as ferrous oxide. No spikes and my magnet was an N52...


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Mix some oleic acid into the toner to coat it. Then instead of machine oil, use kerosene. You can get a quart bottle Coleman kerosene at a stores that sells camping equipment or buy some on Amazon. Kerosene is a very thin oil.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    How much oleic acid would you suggest?


    Really good attempt at homemade ferrofluid! Have you tried using different suspension liquids other than water?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    No, my next step is to try a stronger magnet, or maybe a thinner glass jar. I imagine a lower viscosity suspension fluid would allow the ferrofluid to flow a little better, but water is cheap and available!