About: Last time in my life that I saw the moon that close to me... I was born in the capital city of a country that no longer exists.... I'm in my own timeline and an Electronic Engineer... Received my first degr...

Hard to believe this pristine beach has tons of iron in the sand ! !

Gold Beach in Oregon had a lot more Iron in the sand 20 years ago.

This instructable shows you how to separate and collect the Gold Beach Iron using a simple Magnet.

Step 1:


Harbor Freight sells a magnetic pick-up and drop tool for under $10 dollars.

A dry soda bottle makes a convenient container for holding the iron fillings.

Step 3: PULLING Iron From 'Gold Beach'

See the  Magnet action being performed to separate Iron from Sand ..

Step 4: Seperation of IRON From Sand

Trowel and slide the  magnetic head  through dry loose sand and let it collect everything it can hold..
  • Drop the bundle of Sand and Iron on a flat rock  see picture 1 & 2
  • Pick the Iron out of the Sand on the first rock  see picture 3
  • Drop the Iron and sand on a second flat rock   see picture 4
  • Pick the Iron out of the sand on the second rock  see picture 5
  • Drop the Iron and tiny bit of sand on the third flat rock   see picture 6
  • Take the IRON filings and place them in a collection bottle  see video

Step 5: IRON in a Bottle

Here I removed 200 g of filings from the bottle, in order to demonstrate the magnetic attraction.

Step 6: Where Does Ocean Iron Come From ?

Iron is found in sand all over this world some sites like Gold-Beach Oregon have a lot
and some almost non at all..
NASA estimates forty metric tons of dust some of them Iron, pepper this planet each day.

You can find Iron in national Forrests, on sandy paths or your own back yard.

There are other theories and religious texts that espouse different reasoning..
I cannot tell which is the actual but the Iron is here for those who want it..

Step 7: IRON FUN

When Iron filings and Magnets get near each other
there is a strong mutual attraction.

Here are some Fun suspensions using an old lamp clamp and two magnets
in addition to the collected Iron sand filings.



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    74 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 7

    A great Instructable!! Really amazing the ammount of quality knowledge in the original and also the comments. Almost like taking a short course in physics, chemistry, and electronics!! When panning for gold the old timers used Mercury to collect the specks of Gold. Gold would stick to the mercury but not the sand. I have a device that I picked up at my deceased cousins home, that he used to vaporize the mercury and condense it back for re-use. Evidently the gold would be in the bottom of the tightly sealed metal container. You have written an outstanding article. Really hope you write some more like this one.

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    You know, black sand (iron) is where gold is found...

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Alas, my electronic Al magnet does not grab the tiny Au particles.

    The Manic Puppeteer

    4 years ago

    The "iron" is actually magnetite sand, a magnetic iron ore usually known as lodestone. In my opinion, this actually makes it much more interesting (i.e. dangerous)! Magnetite is the most potent oxide for the creation of thermite powder, which is a mixture of magnetite, metal powder, and any fuel. When burning, the temperature can exceed 2760° C, and is extremely useful for melting things such as titanium.

    5 replies

    Looked up Ti as a week paramagnetic element but doubt my coke bottle contains any titanium because I just went and used that same NIB magnet but could not pick up a titanium weld rod There was NO feeble lift attempt..

    Well, the only real way to find out is to forge it, or to use x-ray spectroscopy; titanium in this form is an alloy with the magnetite, so it is much more magnetic. However, I think most beaches have a relatively low titanium content, the ones near San Francisco (particularly Ocean Beach) are unusually high. Interestingly enough, byproducts of this reaction include garnet, sapphire, and maybe fluorite, due to the chemical composition of the impurities. Theo Gray of periodictable.com and Popular Science's Gray Matter has extensive documentation on this subject. I actually may be writing a scientific paper on it sometime, it's quite interesting.

    Incidentally, some of the magnetite (such as beaches near my place of residence, San Francisco) contains titanium to begin with, and all that is required is fuel to extract copious quantities of fairly pure titanium. I've found that the Exploratorium (also in San Francisco) occasionally will host events for members where people can collect and burn thermite to forge titanium. It's quite fun, when not exceedingly dangerous!

    The Manic Puppeteericeng

    Reply 4 years ago

    Apparently they're having an event on May 16th, though it seems to be focusing on the magnetic properties of the ore as opposed to the explosive. Still quite fun! The Exploratorium is great.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I never realised ironsand was so widespread. Check out the beach shown here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwinz/3403795666/. No need for a magnet here - just dig it up with your hand. Just don't try walking on it in bare feet on a sunny day!

    The black sand on this beach is titanomagnetite and it is the titanium content that makes it impractical to reduce in a conventional arc furnace. Due to this problem our local steel mill is the only one in the world to manufacture iron and steel using ironsand as the primary raw material. The unique process is outliined here for those interested: http://www.nzsteel.co.nz/about-new-zealand-steel/operations-/glenbrook-steel-site.

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the reference.

    Another thing about your beautiful land that I like and respect,  is ;
    NZ refuses harbor rights to nuclear powered war ships.



    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Ha! You beat me to it by a few months aws1. I was going to mention Piha Beach in West Auckland, NZ, that was so black when we were kids (40 years ago) you literally burned your feet if you stood on it for more than a few seconds. We had to race down from the dunes as far as we could, dig rapidly into the cooler sand and let our feet cool off before making another rapid dash to the next digging spot or the surf. The iron sand used to wash up the coast from the mouth of the Waikato River, but with all the iron sand extraction by Glenbrook, Piha is now just another brown sand beach - makes it more usable I suppose!


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 4

    Not all beaches have iron in quantity..
    Do you reside near a coastal area ?

    Thanks for the pointer to laser glasses !



    6 years ago on Step 4

    Very nice idea! Had no clue there was so many iron on the beach.

    Perhaps a funnel would make the loading easier?

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 4

    Who brings a magnetic collection device on holiday? Seems if one thinks that far ahead, the same person could take a funnel... :^)


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 4

    Ha ha, when I plan for a trip and bring a Geiger counter, all my electronics,
    and grand children who thinks of a funnel :-)