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How to Separate Strong Magnets

Neodymium magnets are strong.  Really strong.  If you have never handled neodymium magnets before, you will be surprised at their remarkable strength.  They're not the ceramic magnets you find at craft stores.

Whether talking about relatively small magnets like 1/4" diameter D41 discs, or monstrously big block magnets like our BX8X8X8, separating these magnets can prove challenging to those without experience.

Here, we share some of our strategies and tips for separating strong neodymium magnets.

The Basic Idea

Neodymium magnets pull towards each other with a strong force.  If you try pulling two magnets directly apart, you need quite a bit of force to pull them apart.  To separate one magnet from another, you'll need to pull with a force equal to the listed Pull Force Case 1 number.

This can be difficult if the magnet is strong, or if there isn't much area to grab onto the magnet.  Most methods of separating these magnets do two things:

  1. They provide more leverage and/or a better way to grip the magnets
  2. They move the magnets apart laterally (sideways), which requires less force

Small Magnets

Small magnets can be separated by hand, usually without any mechanical aid.  Magnets with listed Pull Force Case 1 values of about 5 lb or less fall into this category.  The key is to slide one magnet off the stack with a lateral motion, as shown in the video of D42 magnets below.

 

 

The video for our B333 cubes is also instructive.

If you are having trouble, consider using the edge of a desk to help remove the top magnet off a stack, as shown in the video below of our D63 disc magnets.

Medium-Sized Magnets

Medium sized magnets might range from 10 to 50 lb in their listed pull force numbers.  While they can be separated by hand, it can help to use some kind of leverage such as the edge of a table.

The DX04 video below shows that it's easier to separate two magnets when a small plastic spacer is kept between them.  Once the spacer is removed, it is much more difficult to separate by hand.  The video shows magnets separated using the edge of a desk and with our MAGS1 Magnet Splitter.

The RX038DCB-N52 is a stronger magnet, but we use the same techniques.

Be careful handling magnets in this strength range.  It can be easy to pinch your skin when handling such magnets.  Also consider wearing safety glasses with magnets this size.  If allowed to collide, small chips can fly off the magnets.

Big Magnets

We offer a number of really big magnets that are, quite frankly, challenging to handle.  Here we show our BX8X8X8 1.5" cube magnet being separated using our MAGS1 magnet splitter.  With a spacer between them we can separate these magnets by hand, though I wouldn't recommend this without experience.

The method shown here using our magnet splitter is good instruction for magnets in the 1 to 2 inch size range.  We offer our MAGS1 magnet splitter for sale on our website.  For those who prefer to make their own, we even have an article posted about how to Build Your Own Magnet Separator Tool.

We have not yet posted videos for larger magnets.  For 3" magnets, we usually separate them with more than one person involved to stay safe.  Be careful out there!

WARNING: Neodymium Magnets are Brittle and Fragile!

Neodymium magnets are made of a brittle material.  Don't let the shiny nickel plating fool you -- these magnets are not as strong as steel.  They are more like a brittle ceramic.  If you let two magnets slam together, they can crack and break.  This is true for magnets large and small.  Even small D41 magnets can crack if you let them fly together.

The video below includes some high speed photography showing what happens when strong magnets collide.

More examples on the Video Summary Page

Looking for an example for how to handle your specific magnet?  Many of our product pages include a video of that magnet under the "Video" tab.  For a list of magnets that include videos, check out our Video Summary Page.  Don't see one you're looking for?  Suggest our next magnet video!