How To: 11 Weird & Wonderful Uses for Magnets

11 Weird & Wonderful Uses for Magnets

Other than sticking your crayon drawings onto your refrigerator door, magnets have a variety of unexpected and sometimes surprisingly practical uses, ranging from keeping your chip bags sealed to creating weird patterns on your nail beds using magnetic nail polish.

The strongest magnet in the world stands 22-feet tall and weighs 34 tons. It has a magnetic field of 45 teslas, which is 45,000 times stronger than that of Earth's. That's cool, but we won't need such power for our magnetic hacks. No, a simple permanent magnet will be quite enough to find us true north, fashion a fridge pen, pick up pointy metal objects, and get iron out of our cereal.

1. Find True North with a Magnet

So you need to find true north but you're without a compass and the sky and sun are covered with clouds. Well, if you have a magnet, a piece of cork, a bowl of water, and a straight pin, you have a way.

To go about finding north on Earth's axis, rub the pin across the magnet 50 times in the same direction. Next, push the pin through the cork to create a pointer of sorts. Last, place the DIY magnetic needle into the bowl of water, and there you have it: true north. No matter how you turn or tilt the bowl, the pin will always point north.

2. Use a Magnet to Locate Studs in a Wall

An electronic stud finder can be hit or miss when it comes to locating studs behind walls so why not use a magnet to do the searching instead. A strong magnet can easily find the nails and/or screws holding the stud and (dry)wall together. All you need to do (as you would a stud finder) is move the magnet over a wall until it sticks to it. What's happening? It's found the metal fastener beneath the paint.

3. Keep Chip Bags Sealed with Magnets

An opened bag of potato chips can be on its way to Stalesville if enough air gets to the crisps and binds to the starch in them. The simple solution, of course, is to use a bag clip (or clothespin, binder clip, etc.). But if you don't have one handy, and you do have magnets, then you still have a solution: Just fold over the top of the chips bag a few times and apply magnets on the opposite sides.

4. Make a Handy Magnetized Fridge Pen

Running low on sriracha sauce? Need paper towels? Want to leave a reminder but don't have a way to write it down? For that next time (and there will be a next time), make a quick fridge pen. To do so, simply slip a small magnet underneath the metal clip of a pen and stick it to your refrigerator. You're now all set for future grocery lists and notes to self.

5. Pick Up Metal Things with a Magnet

Magnets are also extremely useful for safely picking up screws, needles, and other pointy objects from the floor if you ever have an accidental spill during your DIY home project or sewing spree.

6. Rescue Items from a Drain with a Magnet

If you happen to drop an earring down a drain or have a fork sitting in the garbage disposal, don't stick your hand in there, which can be gross — not to mention dangerous. Instead, use a magnet. First, tie a piece of twine around a strong magnet and then lower it into the drain. Once the magnet grabs onto the metal item, slowly pull both it and the magnet up and out. It's like a mini rescue mission.

7. Design with Magnetized Paint & Polish

Magnetic paint is a DIY idea that could very well spruce up your home office, dorm room, or kitchen. The primer paint, which has tiny particles of iron dust mixed in it, can be used to magnetize wall space into a fun "board" for notes, photos, receipts, and more. Bob Vila recommends using a lot of primer and covering it with at most two coats of paint as each coat will diminish the primer's overall magnetism.

Speaking of aesthetics, a kind of magnetic "paint" has recently entered the beauty realm as well, in the form of magnetic nail polish. For some fun and weird patterns on your nail beds, simply hover a magnet over freshly painted nails and see what designs emerge before the paint dries.

8. Seal a Vent with a Magnetic Sheet

Easily prevent hot/cold air from entering unused rooms in your home by sealing up a vent with a magnetic sheet. This DIY will save you money on HVAC costs, especially during the summer and winter months.

9. Extract Jammed Batteries with a Magnet

Struggling to remove a battery from its compartment? We've all been there. Well, rather than waste (more) time — and risk hurting your fingers in the process — let a magnet do the work. Pretty much any size magnet should be able to pull those stubborn batteries out of their crammed battery holders. You'll wonder why you never did so before.

10. Prevent Car Doors from Freezing with Magnets

If your car doesn't feature keyless entry, then this magnetic hack could prove invaluable during the winter season. By placing a wide, flat magnet over your car door's lock overnight, you can keep it from freezing shut. Next morning, you can use the time you save on de-icing your windshield, which will still happen.

11. Get Iron Out of Cereal with a Magnet

And finally, if you ever suspect that your fortified nutritious breakfast cereal doesn't contain as much iron as it claims, you can verify your theory by grinding up the cereal in a blender and then seeing for yourself just how much black iron fuzz sticks onto a magnet when you sift through the cereal dust. Pretty weird and wonderful, right?

10 Comments

I grew up in northern Utah, where it snowed hard during the winters. And I never heard of keeping the door lock unfrozen with a magnet! Genius!

Hooray! I would have never known of this tip and may not use it anytime soon since a.) I live in Southern California and b.) I have a keyless car remote. Nonetheless, I thought this tip was really cool when I first read about it.

#$%@in' miracles.

Ya, that is brilliant. I have been late to many things in my day due to frozen locks lol. Before, I would stand there like an idiot trying to splash hot water from a coffee cup directly into the keyhole lol.

just have to point out that you are not finding true north rather you are finding magnetic north which is about 15 degrees off from true north

Good to know. Thanks for sharing!

two magnets, 1 piece of towel ,linen etc will clean out a small fishtank clothe inside hold with 1 magnet use the other outside the tank in sync and move it around works great i do this myself

Great idea. Thanks for sharing!

Stick stuff to walls (like knives n such). A hammer works best to knock a hole in drywall, do this then with a knife or other sharp object hollow out a section of the drywall from the back side big enough for your magnet, the magnets need to be strong like hard drive magnets. Dont hollow all the way through the backside of the drywall, about 1\2 way should be good. put your magnet in and tape it with duct tape or something (cleaning all the dust off the wall first). Patch the hole you pounded with precision and warra! Stick ferrous objects n the like to the wall like magic. If you are not really gooood at drywall repairs like I am or don't like the extra time it will takk, then just cut a hole about twice the size of your hand, dont use a hammer.

how about when your working around the house, just put a magnet in your front pocket then whenever u need a screw etc. its right there handy 4 when u need it Drill in 1 hand and off u go

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