Is Zinc Magnetic?

The easiest way to test if zinc is magnetic is to melt a penny and test the zinc with a magnet. Before everyone starts sending emails about the legality of melting pennies, note that the US Mint says it's okay for

"exceptions include the treatment of minor quantities of these coins for educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry and similar purposes."

So that's me – just one or two pennies for answering the educational question "Is Zinc Magnetic?"

You have to get the right pennies. Pennies from 1982 and after are made of zinc with a thin copper coating. Copper itself isn't magnetic so we could just see if newer pennies are attracted to a magnet. But I want to melt some pennies and see what the zinc looks like. Note that pennies before 1982 are all copper.

Melting a Penny to Get the Zinc Inside

Pouring Zinc from the Penny

What is interesting is that even though zinc isn't magnetic is can interact with magnetic fields. If you move a strong magnetic you can actually cause small currents of electricity to flow in the zinc. These small currents have a magnetic field opposite the moving magnetic. As a result they push away and the zinc can move. But, it's not the zinc that’s magnetic - it's the small electrical field exhibiting magnetism.

So ... Is Zinc Magnetic?

You can see that clearly with other metals. In the video below the Aluminum tube causes a magnet to almost float down the tube.

I should note that zinc is not magnetic unless you put it in a very strong magnetic field and then it will be slightly magnetic until you remove the field. But for practical purposes zinc is not magnetic.

What about magnets in outer space?