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how to make a ferrofluidI have come across this somewhat freaky image while browsing the web. Though it’s pretty strange, somehow it caught my attention and wondered what this one is and how I can make it using the materials I have in my house. Well, guys I am talking about a ferrofluid.  Perhaps, you, too, are going to be interested in this one.

What is Ferrofluid ?

Ferrofluid or liquid magnet is a colloidal mixture containing extremely tiny pieces of magnetic substance. Ferrofluids are made of nanoscale magnetic particles usually 10 nanometers or less in diameter of some compound of iron, magnetite, and cobalt. This becomes strongly polarized in the presence of magnetic field.

Before we break down how to make a ferrofluid, let’s a watch a Youtube video first to basically see what this stuff looks like:

Probably, your next question is about the applications of this liquid magnet . Apparently, apart from looking at it as a cool toy, ferrofluids have a lot of functions. Say for instance, this thing is used in military as radar absorbent material paint. In medicine, it can be used as contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and can also be used to detect cancer. Ferrofluids can also be used to form liquid seals around the spinning drive shafts in hard drives preventing debris from entering the hard disks. Another thing is that some people use it as a form of art to entertain guests in gatherings like what Sachiko Kodama did. Great, right?!?

Okay, so I already said a lot about these ferrofluids. Usually they are very complicated to make and very expensive when you buy it.  But we are going to show you how you can make a simple ferrofluid using some of your household items easily, more affordably, and quickly. Here’s how to make a ferrofluid.   There are three options in making FerroFluid:

Option 1:  Magnetic Ink Developer to make a FerroFluid

The easiest and popular way to make this magnetic fluid is perhaps by using the magnetic ink developer (MICR Toner).  or laser jet toner.  All you have to do is to mix toner into oil, 1:1 ratio works. Then mix it well, a spoon on a power drill works well and saves time.  Voila!! Done.  Now you have your finished product:  The Ferro-Liquid.  Have Fun with Ferro.

Option 2:  Audio Cassettes to make a FerroFluid

Another way of making magnetic fluid is by using audio cassette tapes. We will  not use the tape itself but we only need iron particles or the ferric oxide powder attached on plastic tape. We need this magnetic particles as  the magnetite for our solution.

To separate the Ferric oxide from the plastic tapes, we have to use Acetone.  This chemical will melt the plastic tapes thus helping to  separate the Ferric Oxide from the tapes.  All you have to do is to find a big bowl then fill it with acetone and then put all the tapes and leave it for few hours. Next step is to collect the ferric oxide using strong magnet rolled with paper. After you’ve collected the ferric oxide mix this with cooking oil (3:1). Mix it well.  Voila!! you’ve just made yourself a ferro-liquid.

Option 3:  Ferric Chloride & Steel Wool to Make Ferro-Liquid

The last option is by using ferric cloride.  This chemical  is  used in electronics for making Printed Circuit Board (PCB), to separate the copper from the board.  Prepare these equipments: 2 Beakers, plastic syringe and coffee filters.

Materials:

  • Distilled water
  • Steel wool
  • Ferric Chloride
  • Kerosene
  • Household Ammonia
  • Oleic Acid

Steps:

  1. Mix Ferric chloride with water (25mL Ferric Chloride / 25mL Water)
  2. Add a small piece of steel wool then stir it and wait until it has turned into bright green.  This bright green chemical is called Ferrous Chloride or FeC12 .
  3. Filter it to get rid of the steel wool and other dirt, you may use coffee filter as strainer.
  4. Now we have to add 40 ml of ferric chloride to the Green Ferrous Chloride that you’ve just filtered.  THe ratio of FeCl3 AND FeCl2 should be 1:1.
  5. Stir the solution and while stirring, slowly add 400ML of Ammonia.
  6. Heat the solution to near boiling.  When it starts to steam stir the solution and
  7. while stirring add small amount oleic acid at a time.  you’ll need a total of  about 10ml of oleic acid added.  Continue to heat near boiling until the smell of ammonia disappears.
  8. Let the solution to cool completely then add 200ML of kerosene and stir it well.
  9. When it settles, you will see 2 layers, the black layer on the top is the magnetite particles (FerroFluid) and the other layer is the remaining water and kerosine.  Pour off the Ferrofluid layer on the top and discard the other layer. Voila!! We now have our finished product. The Ferrofluid.

Have Fun with Ferro “The Magnetic Fluid”, Using Strong Magnet (neodymium)

Finally, you have your solution. To see it now, magnetize your liquid by using rare earth magnets. Try to be resourceful. You can use the magnets that you can find in your speakers or the most suggested is to use neodymium magnets. Remember, a strong magnet will help you notice a better effect.

Okay, that’s how easy to make a ferro-fluid.  Pretty cool, isn’t it?  -:)

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