Neodymium magnets are very useful in many different applications. They have a number of properties that make them ideal for certain uses. However, they are not immune to common problems. Even though this rare earth metal is commercially available in large amounts, it is still susceptible to the effects of rust and pollution.
Neodymicalty is a rare earth metal with a chemical composition of Nd3 Fe14 B24. This makes it difficult to find and mine but also creates favorable properties when processing it into magnets. As mentioned previously, neodymium magnets are known for their high strength and ability to attract up to 28 times their weight in paperclips without showing any degradation in performance. But at what cost? Luckily, most neodymium products do not suffer from external factors that could lead to rusting but there are a few that do. Let’s take a closer look at why that is, its impact on your home or business, and solutions if you discover signs of rusting inside your neodymium magnet collection
What is Neodymium Rust?
Rust is a natural process in which iron atoms lose electrons, dissolve into a liquid and form an outer layer of ferrous oxide around the metal. When this happens on neodymium magnets, it creates spots that are visible to the naked eye. It is possible for this rusting process to occur internally too and can be difficult to detect without taking some steps first.
This problem can also happen when there is exposure to corrosive substances like water or acidic chemicals like hydrochloric acid. This can lead to the rusting process being more pronounced and present in your neodymium magnet collection.
Rust is not a rare occurrence on neodymium magnets but it does require proper care if you want your magnets to last as long as they should. Neodymium rust can be avoided by preventative measures like storing them away from dust sources, wearing gloves when handling them, and avoiding contact with corrosive substances in order to avoid spreading the corrosion elsewhere.
How does Neodymium Rust Form?
Neodymium magnets vary in their properties, appearance and the metals they are composed of. Some neodymium magnets have a black coating over them to protect them from outside pollutants and rust. In order to make these magnet products, manufacturers use a number of different chemicals that can cause corrosion. These chemicals act as an etching agent by removing oxygen molecules from the surface of the magnet. They are able to do this because they are very reactive with oxygen molecules and it is easy for them to react with the metal’s oxides found on the surface. This reaction causes a chemical reaction that forms a layer of protective oxide on top of the magnet’s surface.
The problem with neodymium magnets is when there is no protection against rusting, which can be caused by water vapor or other impurities in the air. Contaminants like water or sulfur dioxide (SO2) form corrosive acids that corrode oxides on the surface of your neodymium magnet into compounds called sulfates (S04-). This creates an acidic environment in which oxidation occurs at a faster rate if left untreated. And when oxidation takes place, it releases hydrogen sulfide gas into the air which leads to odor problems and corrosion build up inside your neodymium magnet collection.
Preventing Neodymium Magnet Rust
A few of the main ways that neodymium magnets are made are by mixing impurities into the molten metal and then letting them cool. For example, when making neodymium magnets by casting or extrusion, iron powder is often added to the molten metal. As a result, these methods lead to rusting because of iron oxide particles within the finished product.
The good news is that there are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening. First, make sure to use pure neodymium metal to create your neodymium magnet. If you have already created your products and found signs of rusting, try removing it before it’s too late with:
-Diluted hydrochloric acid
Ways to Get Rid of Neodymium Magnet Rust
If you notice that your neodymium magnet collection is starting to rust, start with small fixes. You can use a damp cloth on the surface of the magnet or dish soap and water in a spray bottle to clean it off. For larger rust stains, you will need to apply harsher methods. One option is using an abrasive cleaner like sandpaper to remove the particles from the metal. This will help resolve the rusting issue going forward because you have removed the material that caused it.
There are three main ways to prevent Neodymium Magnet Rust. The first is to use rusted-look paint on the surface. The second is to coat the magnet with a rust-inhibiting agent. And the third is to use a magnet with a protective coating.