Ferrofluid is a black, solvent-based liquid, that, in the presence of a magnetic field, becomes strongly magnetized. The fluid is made up of nanomagnetic particles coated with an "anti-stick" or surfactant compound, suspended in a "carrier", commonly an organic solvent. For mechanical applications, it is used in hard drives and speakers as a lubricant. However, it also has been implemented in artwork, as seen in the video below.
For more information about ferrofluid, see here.
- You'll need some laser printer toner (can be found at most office supply stores)
- Motor oil or kerosene (found at most hardware stores)
- Oleic acid (found online here)
- Household ammonia
Note: The Oleic acid is not exactly necessary, olive oil or citric acid can be substituted for a less than desired result. If you're looking for ferrofluid like the liquid used in the video above, use Oleic acid.
- A stir stick or spoon
- Glass (Pyrex) container
- A heat source (stove)
- Measuring equipment
- Add 150 ml of ammonia into one of the Pyrex containers, then add about three tablespoons of toner.
- Heat the mixture to near boiling, then add the oleic acid (or substitute). This will produce ammonia gas, so do this in a well-ventilated area! The oleic acid reacts with ammonia to form ammonium oleate. Heat causes the oleate ion to enter the mixture, while the ammonia escapes as a gas. When the oleate ion binds to the toner it is reconverted to oleic acid.
- Now, stir in 100ml of kerosene (or motor oil) and add it to the beaker.
- Let cool, then pour off any water left on top of the mixture.
To use, bring a magnetic field (magnet) near the liquid, and observe the amazing liquid structures that form in the presence of the field. Don't let the magnet touch the ferrofluid, it will cause a very messy, toner-covered magnet to clean.
- Try placing a coil of copper wire into the liquid, then attaching it to an amplifier. Use a signal generating program to pulse the coil, and observe the results!
- Store in a closed container.
- Don't spill the ferrofluid! Its very very messy and colors anything it touches black.
- Ammonia, liquid or gas is very dangerous, don't ingest or inhale it.
- Kerosene and motor oil are also poisonous, be careful.
- I am not responsible for any damage, harm or ruined clothing.
- Stoves are hot! Don't burn yourself