Handling and Safety
All magnets have general safety rules and safety specifications based on their unique properties. In order to ensure your personal safety and extend the lifetime of your magnets, it is important to understand the recommended handling, storage, and safety guidelines.
All Permanent Magnets (Except for Flexible Magnet Material)
- Magnets are naturally brittle and are prone to chipping and shattering, so gloves and eye protection are sometimes required, depending on magnet strength.
- Magnets should not be placed in close proximity to media devices and older electronics, such as floppy disks or videotapes.
- Modern cell phones are safe near small magnets. In fact, rare earth magnets are used in the phone’s speaker. Many cell phone cases and mounts also contain magnets.
- Magnets can interfere with navigational equipment such as compasses, which is why magnets are shipped by air only when absolutely necessary and must be packaged so their magnetism does not permeate the box.
- Keep magnets away from children and pets. If swallowed, call 9-1-1 immediately as magnets can damage organs and result in surgery or even death when more than one neodymium magnet is ingested. They are so strong that they attract across intestines and can bind them closed.
- Individuals with pacemakers or other magnetic medical devices should avoid contact with magnets, especially near the medical device, such as magnetic name badges.
- Stored magnets should be properly labeled so that they are easily identifiable. If a magnetic assembly can be turned on and off, it should be stored in the off position.
- When separating strong magnets, it is safer and easier to slide, rather than pull them apart. A table edge or external separating aid (used with the assistance of another person) can be helpful in the separation process of stronger magnets. Many of our magnets are sold with keepers or spacers that should be used in the storage and transit of magnets.
Neodymium and Samarium Cobalt Magnets
- Rare earth magnets are commonly nickel-plated to prevent corrosion. Individuals with nickel allergies should wear gloves when working with nickel-plated magnets.
- Neodymium magnet powder and dust is highly flammable and can spontaneously combust. Do not attempt to drill, sand, or machine-alter neodymium magnets.
- Rare earth magnets can become demagnetized in extremely high temperatures. Magnets should never be exposed to temperatures higher than their maximum operating temperatures.
- Rare earth magnets are extremely strong and can result in injury if handled improperly. They should be clearly labeled when placed for storage. Proper handling of rare earth magnets larger than ½ inch in size includes the following:
Slide apart and slide together carefully while holding firmly in separate hands. Allowing magnets to jump together can result in magnet breakage and/or severely pinched fingers. Keep out of reach of children. Do not drop magnets onto hard surfaces as they are extremely brittle and may chip or shatter!
- Name badge backings often use neodymium magnets. Individuals with pacemakers or other magnetic medical devices should keep magnets away from the devices and should not use magnetic name badges.
- Rare earth magnets should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Swallowing magnets can result in organ damage and possibly death.
- Ceramic magnets are naturally brittle and can chip easily. Sometimes ceramic magnets can snap together, resulting in small flakes or larger shards of magnet that can potentially result in eye or other injury. Eye protection should be worn when working with raw ceramic magnets.
- Ceramic magnets are strong and can pinch fingers. Gloves should be worn when handling ceramic magnets.
- Handle with care and label all ceramic magnets when placed for storage.
- Alnico magnets must be stored with an attracting alnico keeper. Alnico can lose magnetism when it is exposed to a repelling magnetic field. It can also lose strength if tapped on a hard surface (e.g., dropped on the floor). In the case of demagnetization, alnico can be re-magnetized if necessary.