Steel and Magnets

I had been debating about whether to load up my new refrigerator with art held on by magnets. I didn’t want to risk scratching the stainless steel surface, so I had halfway decided not to decorate it. Then when sorting through all the stuff I’ve stashed here and there over the last few months, I found the darling butterfly magnets that Herm gave me for my birthday, in anticipation of my new kitchen. They have a soft backing, so I ran downstairs to put them on. But they wouldn’t stick at all!

Mr. Glad had just come home from work, and we puzzled together as he saw me try to attach them to the microwave instead. Nope. They don’t hold on there, either. Isn’t steel magnetic? Made of iron? Is this really stainless steel, or some knock-off? The magnets do stick to my powerful range fan hood, so there they sit, brightening up the back of the stove.

When I googled this subject the first article I found was written on a blog of stories by journalism grad students at Columbia University, and stated that some stainless steel appliances are not magnetic because they “are made of high-grade stainless steel and don’t contain iron.” What?? I don’t know very much, but I always thought steel was made of iron. So I went on searching.

From what I read here, it appears that various metals can be added to the steel (that is, yes, mostly iron) in small amounts, to make it rust-free. One of the metals that often goes into the alloy is nickel, which also alters the steel in a way that negates the magnetic quality. I’m guessing that my range hood doesn’t have nickel. But it does have butterflies.


7 thoughts on “Steel and Magnets

  1. How interesting about the stainless steel…no iron, hmmm….I was thinking perhaps it was aluminum. I've heard others say that it's not magnetic. I like the clean look and I like our fridge with a TON of magnets and papers all over it, too. Guess you have no choice now, eh?


  2. Those are especially pretty magnets! I didn't know that about stainless appliances but I think it is interesting. I go back and forth with decorating my fridge. Right now I am on a minimalist kick so the idea of a fridge that won't stick appeals to me a lot.


  3. Did you get complete instructions on cleaning the stainless steel? All the stratches in the “main house” are from eager to help guests over the years.
    Refrigerators magnet are “old fashioned now…” so we know they will be back.


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