Everything You Need To Know About Ferrofluid

Ferrofluid is a liquid that reacts to the attraction of a magnet. It is often used for science and education to show how iron particles react to a magnetic field, the previously runny liquid suddenly starts to grow spikes which grow higher as the magnet gets nearer and these spikes then repel each other, causing the patterns to move and change shape.

If you have never seen this liquid before, you will be absolutely amazed by its fascinating reactions to magnetic fields, but you also may have some questions about what it is, how it works, and much more.

What is Ferrofluid?

Ferrofluid is a black ferromagnetic liquid that reacts to the attraction of magnetic fields, there are different ferrofluids on the market oil-based ferrofluids and fossil fuel-based ones. The working temperature of ferrofluid is between -20°C and 130°C.

Depending on the strength of the magnetic field and the distance between it and the ferrofluid, different patterns of spikes will appear and begin to move and change shape and size.

How Does Ferrofluid Work?

The cause of the spikes within the ferrofluid is a complex interaction of different forces. To ensure the iron particles float in the liquid and do not settle on the bottom, they are coated with a surfactant. It also holds the particles and the oil together.

Ferrofluid is a stickier substance than other liquids, when a magnet is held close to ferrofluid, its viscosity prevents the iron particles from separating from the liquid. Meaning the iron particles are attracted by the magnet but are being pulled back by the surfactant.

Therefore, since the iron particles are repeatedly attracted by the magnet, the spikes form.

What is ferrofluid used for?

Ferrofluid is commonly used for experiments and demonstrations to make magnetism visible. However, it can also be found in technology such as in loudspeakers as well as within medical and industrial engineering.

Can you remove ferrofluid stains from the skin and clothing?

It is impossible to remove ferrofluid stains from clothing will cause stubborn stains on the skin as well, which is why for experiments it is vital to wear protective clothing, gloves, and safety glasses.

Is ferrofluid toxic?

Ferrofluid is based on hydrocarbons and has a similar composition to motor oil, meaning that ferrofluid is safe but should not be ingested or inhaled and can cause eye irritation. Therefore, when using ferrofluid, it’s important to be protected by wearing protective clothing, gloves, and safety glasses.

How to dispose of ferrofluid?

Due to its composition ferrofluid should be disposed of as hazardous waste, however, small amounts can be disposed of with household rubbish either in a tightly sealed plastic container or having been soaked up with paper towels.

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