How to Test for Steel Using Magnets


Because steel, particularly stainless steel, holds up much longer than aluminum, some consumers prefer only to purchase grills and other goods made out of stainless steel. Although aluminum is non-magnetic, a characteristic used to differentiate it from other types of scrap metal at recycling yards, so are many types of stainless steel. A magnetism test may help test a metal to determine if it's steel, although you'll need to perform other tests to be certain of the quality.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnet
  • Place the magnet against the metal. Does it stick to the metal at all? If not, it's most likely aluminum or high-quality stainless steel with large amounts of chromium in the alloy.

  • Let go of the magnet. Does it slowly slide down the edge of the metal when unsupported? Slight magnetism could be caused by the nickel in the stainless alloy interfering with iron's ferrous properties.

  • Pull the magnet away from the metal. Does it adhere to the metal? If a magnet is actively attracted to the metal, it could be 400-series stainless steel that doesn't contain nickel. It may also be wrought iron or another ferrous material.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment with the magnet you plan to use as a testing device on types of metals you can easily identify to understand how strongly it is attracted to materials before you start testing items for steel.

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  • Photo Credit magnet m image by Vita Vanaga from
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