Aluminum is not magnetic under normal circumstances, but the metal is attracted to magnets if the magnetic force from the magnets is strong enough.
What will follow is an introduction and explanation of the magnetism (or not in this case) of aluminum and the specifics of what this means.
Is Aluminum Magnetic? (EXPLAINED)
What Is Aluminum?
Aluminum is known as a noble metal, and this affects its magnetism.
Other noble metals include copper and copper alloys, and none of them have magnetic properties on their own.
The chemical composition of aluminum includes the:
- atomic weight of 26.982g per aluminum atom,
- atomic number (number given to the element on the periodic table) of 13,
- a melting point of 1220 °F (660 °C),
- a boiling point of 4,473 °F (2,467 °C ),
- valence (term that denotes the involved electrons form a chemical bond) of 3,
- electron configuration (the distribution of electrons with the atoms) is 1s22s22p63s23p1., and
- specific gravity (the density of an object concerning water) of Aluminum is at 68 °F (20 °C) is 2.70.
Aluminum is silvery-white in appearance and is normally found in small sheets of metal or cylinders for construction purposes.
The size and description of the metal lend weight to its non-magnetism because magnetized atoms need a (relatively) large surface area for the repulsion and attraction of the atoms to have any effect.
Apart from being silvery-white, Aluminum also has a dull metal (silvery) appearance because of the layer of oxidation that is formed when the metal comes into contact with air.
Aluminum has many different physical properties and descriptions which are related to what the metal is used for.
Aluminum is used for a variety of construction and packaging items, specifically because it is non-magnetic and naturally occurring, making it safe to use in these applications.
The various types of Aluminum descriptions include uses for:
- transportation, and
- food packaging.
The descriptions of Aluminum in these cases include:
- metal sheets,
- door screens,
- cutlery, and
- food tins for people and animals.
Aluminum does not behave like other metals since it can be easily rolled, made into foil or mesh, and is very rust-resistant while acting as a good conductor of electricity and heat.
This helps with the construction process where necessary since magnetized materials could create issues with the metal sheets required: if these sheets are magnetized, they could bend slightly in areas that could damage the constructed buildings.
What Does Magnetic Mean?
There are three different types of magnets:
- Ferromagnetism is a permanent magnet because the atomic electrons form groups of atoms. A magnetic current can run permanently, and these charges run parallel to the side of the magnet and this creates a permanent magnetic field,
- Paramagnetism is when the magnet has unpaired electrons. These unpaired magnets are naturally drawn to magnetic fields, and unpaired electrons can spin in any direction, and
- Diamagnetism is when items or materials are repelled by the magnetic field, which creates an induced magnetic field that flows in the opposite direction.
Magnets come in all shapes and sizes, and the Earth is a magnet on its own.
The magnetism of the Earth isn’t completely understood, but the general theory is that the moving magma within the Earth’s outer core is the cause.
The geomagnetic poles of the Earth move as a result, and this has an effect on the magnetized metals in the ground.
Aluminum, in this case, and its non-magnetized properties, play a role since aluminum is found in the Earth’s crust.
As said previously, aluminum isn’t a magnet on its own but can attract other magnets.
This is because of the presence of magnetism within the Earth’s crust where aluminum is found, and this is why there is a faint hint of magnetism in aluminum alloy, which is how aluminum is processed.
When something is magnetized, the elements and atoms inside that object have a push-pull relationship.
Electric charges within the item are responsible for the magnetic push or pull exerted and the electrons, which are responsible for the charges of electricity, spin around the core of the atoms of the object.
Magnetism happens where there is an uneven distribution of spinning electrons, but these atoms are weak in comparison to proper magnets and need to be charged by an existing magnet that enters the magnetic field of the spinning electrons.
Magnets are polarized and this is how the non-magnets are turned into magnets: the atoms align towards the north pole of the new, non-magnetic item.
The item is then charged with active elements through its magnetic field and once the electrons traveling to the north of the item have reached their destination, the new item has become magnetized.
Why Isn’t Aluminum Magnetic?
Aluminum is known as a paramagnetism substance, which means there are an uneven number of atomic electrons within the walls of the item.
An orbital is something that encircles or orbits an object, like the magnet of the Earth that orbits the sun.
The unpaired electrons can be found inside these orbitals of the aluminum item, and the spaces in between the uneven electrons are filled with dipoles, which don’t line up with the electromagnetic field, and these dipoles misalign the dipoles that are present in the remaining electrons that have pairs.
Dipoles are oppositely charged magnetized poles that are separated by a minuscule distance, like inside an atom or electron.
The physical characteristics of Aluminum and its atoms play a role in its non-magnetism because the aluminum alloy or Aluminum itself doesn’t have a magnetic field of its own which allows more unpaired electrons to be present instead of paired electrons as in the case of ferromagnetism.
Another reason my aluminum isn’t magnetic is because of its crystal structure at the atomic level.
Aluminum has a solid face of a cubic structure where the atomic radius is not large enough for magnetism to occur because of a lack of surface area.
Aluminum has been used for centuries as a naturally-occurring non-magnetic substance.
This has construction and food-related benefits, and the fact that aluminum can become magnetized under specific conditions helps this metal gain a wider variety of uses.
Magnetization is made possible by charging the soon-to-be magnet, but the natural paramagnetism properties of aluminum make this a difficult process.