Is Stainless Steel Magnetic?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

When it comes to classifying stainless steel as having magnetic properties, there is not a simple yes and no answer. Instead, the proper response would be to state that it depends. Here is some information about stainless steel that will help to identify situations in which this alloy exhibits magnetic properties, and when it does not.

Stainless steal is typically not magnetic, but stainless steal that doesn't have any nickel in it is magnetic.
Stainless steal is typically not magnetic, but stainless steal that doesn't have any nickel in it is magnetic.

It is important to understand that stainless steel is not a pure magnetic metal. In fact, stainless steel is really a collective name for a steel alloy that is mixed with other metals in order to give it the properties that make the metal compound so desirable. For instance, the typical stainless steel contains just over ten percent of chromium.

Any stainless steel that contains nickel will not be magnetic.
Any stainless steel that contains nickel will not be magnetic.

In fact, it is the presence of the chromium that provides stainless steel with the ability to repel permanent stains and keep looking fresh and clean over long periods of time. The chromium essentially creates a protective layer on the alloy that prevents rusting and makes the metal resistant to any real damage. Any scratches to the surface are simply filled in by this protective layer, making it possible to prevent corrosion to occur. It is the introduction of chromium into the mix that we refer to as stainless steel that makes it possible for the alloy to exhibit magnetic properties.

It is important to note that other metals may be introduced into the steel compound as well as the chromium. One of these metals is nickel. Essentially, the addition of nickel to the stainless steel compound helps to strengthen the protective qualities of the chromium. Generally referred to as a 300 series, stainless steel that contains nickel is not magnetic at all. The reason is that the presence of the nickel alters the physical structure of the stainless steel and removes or inhibits any magnetic qualities.

However, magnetic stainless steel does exist. The 400 series, which contains steel and chromium, but without the presence of nickel, does in fact exhibit magnetic qualities. While the degree of magnetic attraction may vary, it is not unusual for items made with the 400 series stainless steel to provide enough attraction to interact with magnets, and in some cases to allow small metal items to adhere to the stainless steel surface. However, magnetic stainless steel in consumer products does not tend to carry a strong magnetic charge, so there are not any practical home uses involving magnetic attraction.

Some stainless steel refrigerators are not magnetic.
Some stainless steel refrigerators are not magnetic.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


This is the fourth article of this type I've read looking for a specific answer, but they all use the terms "magnetic" and "ferromagnetic" without revealing the ramifications of what exactly they mean. Does magnetic mean that it's a magnet itself, or that it is not a magnet itself and cannot be "magnetized," but still sticks to a magnet?

Before you say this sounds stupid, consider that all crystalline metals are capable of being used as electromagnets, and display magneto-inductive properties.

So basically, yes, or no, does "non-magnetic" mean that a strong permanent magnet won't stick to it, or not? I can't seem to find a definitive answer to this question.


Why would a refrigerator magnet 'bleach' the stainless finish after a few minutes and then have the color return?


When heated, stainless steel releases an energy beam that magnets can lock on to or match in mid air holding each other at bay. Its a wild world we live in today! Yes, no, maybe and sometimes!


After rereading my post and seeing the difference, try reconstructing your magnet to all the reverse factors in any respect possible to the stainless. If anyone finds this to work like I did, don't forget where you heard how this works. If two circles in a bowl of milk are attracted, what if one is only an arch or both or different colors?

Science is when we use our God given talents to discover what we don't know yet! There is always a answer because of the question. I hope I've been of some help.


I'm at no level of smarts to state facts, but

according to my findings, it has more to do with the wave of the magnet because of the holes in its net. Also, if the magnet is married to a similar piece of stainless, or even holding hands or just touching one finger to let the other stainless know that it's friendly. I know that sounds nuts but this is the only way I know to tell you how strange my testing has left me out in left field! It appears that the stainless needs only a common factor to a magnet or vice-versa. It seems that even shape is a factor and that is really out there but that is my spot(left field).

Square holes and round pegs, so it seems size really does matter. A drilled hole or a angle cut or curve but a closed loop, I had to give up and get on with my life as my cat did because it was pulling me into a new field of negative energy and the world's scientists are still working with a black hole theory now. Hope this has helped!


What is the process or any method to remove the magnet from cold formation of 304 stainless steel? Please guide us.


After buying a stainless steel product and checking it myself with my magnet, a friend who didn't have a clue stuck his magnet to my product. Loads of research and personal testing later (since everyone needs to regroup it seems ). Because, my $2.99 cat water bowl is the only stainless steel I can't seem to find some way to make a magnet stick to! And you wouldn't and couldn't believe it if I were to tell you. But I did see something about recycled stainless having radiation in pet bowls about the time it was bought. All I can say is my cat never used her new bowl! Finally put it to use with nuts and bolts without a magnet.


Why do scrap metal yards only pay stainless steel prices for those stainless steel grades that are not magnetic? What about other grades of stainless steel that are magnetic? Are they less valuable?


this makes so much sense! thank you. this helps with the giant 1300 meter stainless steel pyramid i am building in north korea. now we shall all sing!


The most notable difference is weight. It should be rather obvious if it is aluminum or steel (aluminum is a lot lighter).


Is 300 series stainless steel non conductive? Is there a stainless steel that is non-conductive?


Steel is termed "stainless" if it contains at least 10.5 % chromium. The higher the chromium content the more resistant to corrosion. The nickel is added to increase formability. (It will stretch further without fracturing.) The higher the chromium the more corrosion resistant.

The no nickel stainless(ferritic) is magnetic. The addition of nickel produces non-magnetic(austenitic) stainless steel.

We have run corrosion and high temperature tests on 304 ss and 441 ss and both exhibit virtually the same results.(441 actually scaled less)

Just because stainless steel is magnetic does not always mean it is inferior. The best way to determine the alloy content of steel is to use an X-ray analyzer or a spectrometer. Both are expensive.

My advice is if you are buying an item and are buying from a reputable store and a reputable manufacturer that sells quality products and stands behind their products, disregard the issue of magnetism.


can you pick up a stainless steel object with a magnet?


what chemical reacts and tells you which grade is the stainless steel?


so I'm not understanding, chromium is more magnetic, than say 400 grit stainless steel.


Thanks! Until yesterday, I thought all stainless steel was attracted by a magnet. I always knew there was chromium in the alloy to make the material stainless. Would never have thought adding nickel to the alloy would make it nonmagnetic. A friend showed me this was true but had no idea why. I was floored! Thanks again for the explanation.


To test magnetic 430 stainless steel against galvanized steel, get a a galvanized steel comparison, scratch both, and place in vinegar (5 percent acetic acid) and see what happens after one hour, four hours, one day, etc.


Nice article to go through.

I want to know if chromium is about 10 percent and added to iron to make stainless steel, then what is the percentage of nickel added to it?


I have a good number of stainless steel water bottles. I noticed what looks like rust in the bottom of one of them and a magnetic test shows some attraction.

Is the nickel-free stainless an inferior grade? Will it rust where stainless that includes nickel will not?

Finally, have there been any studies done on whether Stainless with nickel and/or chromium are harmful when water is stored in them long term?

I bought 24 stainless bottles to use kayak camping and now I'm not so sure of their quality. Thanks, John


Good article, easy to read and understand.


Well done! Easy to read and told me just what I wanted to know. Thanks.


Tony - put a clip into an acid solution. If stainless steel, there will be no reaction.


why is stainless steel not magnetic?


Inductive cooks toves do -not- require that the pots be magnetic, only that they be conductive metal. They work by inducing eddy currents in metal pots. Aluminum works.


is an ordinary steel a magnetic or non-magnetic material?


All stainless steel can be magnetized through the plasma induction process of stabilization. In essence the ion stream from the dilithium crystals cause a phase shift into the sixth dimension. I know this because I'm from the future.


contains sufficient information. Thanks.


Induction cooking requires magnetic stainless steel or iron types of pots and pans. Anything that a magnet will attract strongly to works on induction cooking surfaces.


One practical home application for magnetic stainless steel is in the use of cookware for induction cook tops. Induction cooking is rapidly coming into vogue and a lot of high end homes are replacing gas cook tops with induction.


Some stainless steels are magnetic and some are not because the iron contained in some stainless steel is high and some iron contained in most stainless steel is low. So if the iron contained in the stainless steel is high it will be a magnetic stainless steel. Therefore if the iron contained in the stainless steel is low it will be a non-magnetic ordinary stainless steel.

The iron could be the same in the steel but the carbon and the chromium may be more or less.


I bought a fridge, microwave with S/S fronts accidentally put a magnetic card on door of fridge it didn't fall off, Mmmm me thinks its not S/S


Stainless is *very* easy to separate from aluminum. The most noticeable thing is weight, aluminum is roughly 1/3 the weight of steel(any steel). As was said, aluminum is softer than stainless, but keep in mind, most stainless steels are (relatively speaking) fairly soft. The only hardened stainless the average person is likely to encounter is in knives. Also, aluminum has a slightly white color to it even when polished, stainless is colorless.


300 series stainless can exhibit magnetism after undergoing cold working, like wire-drawing or rolling. The amount of magnetism depends on the level of cold working that the part undergoes. 304 sheet used in grills is often non-magnetic, whereas 304 rod stock is magnetic, for example. The higher nickel grades, like 310 and 316, do not become magnetic, even after cold working.


Whether a stainless steel is magnetic or not depends mainly on it's nickel content. More nickel = less magnetic. As for the difference between aluminum and stainless steel, the easiest way to tell is by weight.


Chromium stainless steel is magnetic.


I know that austenitic stainless steel is non-magnetic. But, recently I have seen fasteners made of AISI 304 (austenitic grade) has exhibited some degree of magnetism. Is it due to some defect in the crystal structure? How to remove this magnetism?


Stainless steel is harder than aluminum so if you get a piece of Al and try and scratch stainless steel you shouldn't be able to scratch it. Then try and scratch Al with some stainless and notch the difference.

This won't work if you have some high grade AL alloy but will work well for the low grade stuff. Hope this helps.


Hi This is Tony in hardware retail. We sell hose clips that the supplier says it is stainless steel 430 AISI. How can we prove to the customer that this is indeed stainless steel and not galvanized steel? The customers are using the magnet to check it out and object that the stainless should not attract magnet so for them it cannot be stainless steel but only galvanized.

How can we tell the difference?


Has silicon anything to do with destroying stainless steels magnetism?


Ask to see the specs on the grill. They should include the quality of the steel used in the components. If they don't and the salesperson doesn't seem inclined to help out, then look for a grill elsewhere.


I assume stainless steel that is 10% chrome is less resistant to rust than 20 or 30% chrome. So when you are out there buying that new SS grill and the magnetic test is not valid, what is a person to do?


This can be tough, since polished aluminum can look and weigh much like stainless steel. But there are a couple of ways to tell if that metal bowl in the kitchen is stainless steel or polished aluminum. First, thump the empty bowl. Stainless steel will produce more of a "ring" while aluminum will produce more of a flat tone. If a run through the dishwasher leaves the finish on the bowl somewhat dulled, then it is probably aluminum. Stainless steel seems to retain its sheen when ran through a dishwasher.


so how can one tell the difference between stainless and some others like polished Aluminum. they often look exactly alike and if a magnet won't do it what will differentiate?

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