Is Lead Magnetic? (+ 3 Surprising Things to Know)

No, lead is not magnetic. It is a diamagnetic material, which means it does not exhibit any magnetic properties in its natural state. 1 Lead is weakly repelled by a magnetic field and does not retain any magnetic properties once the field is removed.

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Key Takeaways: Is Lead Magnetic?

  • Lead is not magnetic; it is a diamagnetic material that weakly repels magnetic fields.
  • Lead’s non-magnetic behavior is due to its electron configuration, with a fully occupied outer shell that lacks unpaired electrons for magnetism.
  • Under strong magnetic fields, lead can exhibit weak and temporary magnetism through diamagnetic induction.

In case you want to know more about diamagnetic and paramagnetic materials, then this short video will be very helpful to you.

Why is lead not considered magnetic?

Lead is not considered magnetic because it is a diamagnetic material, meaning it does not possess any permanent magnetic properties. 2 In other words, lead does not exhibit an intrinsic magnetic field when placed in an external magnetic field. Instead, it weakly repels the magnetic field, leading to its non-magnetic behavior.

To understand why lead is diamagnetic, we need to consider its electron configuration ([Xe] 6s2 4f14 5d10 6p2). 3 In the case of lead, it has a partially filled 6p orbital in its valence shell, which means it has two unpaired electrons available for bonding.

However, in metallic lead, the valence orbitals are engaged in metal-to-metal bonding. The outer orbitals interact in constructive overlap with neighboring lead atoms to produce bonding molecular orbitals. 4

This structure in metallic lead means that there are no unpaired electrons available for the formation of magnetic domains or alignment of spins, which are characteristics of magnetic materials. Consequently, lead lacks the necessary electron behavior to exhibit magnetism.

It’s important to note that while lead itself is not magnetic, it can be influenced by strong magnetic fields. When subjected to a powerful external magnetic field, lead may exhibit weak magnetic properties due to the induced magnetism effect.

However, this magnetism is temporary and diminishes when the external magnetic field is removed.

Can lead be magnetized under any circumstances?

Lead is generally considered to be a non-magnetic material, meaning it cannot be easily magnetized. However, under certain circumstances, lead can exhibit weak magnetic properties through a phenomenon known as diamagnetic induction.

Diamagnetic induction occurs when a non-magnetic material is exposed to a strong external magnetic field. 5 In the presence of this field, the electrons in the atoms of the material experience a force that causes them to circulate in a way that generates an opposing magnetic field. As a result, the material is weakly repelled by the magnetic field.

Lead is a diamagnetic material, and when subjected to a sufficiently strong magnetic field, it can exhibit diamagnetic properties. However, it’s important to note that the induced magnetism in lead is extremely weak and temporary. Once the external magnetic field is removed, the induced magnetism in lead disappears.

Therefore, while lead can show some response to an applied magnetic field, it is not considered magnetically active in the same way as ferromagnetic or paramagnetic materials that possess intrinsic magnetic properties.

Does the purity of lead affect its magnetic behavior?

Yes, the purity of lead can have an impact on its magnetic behavior. Generally, purer forms of lead exhibit stronger diamagnetic properties compared to impure or alloyed forms of lead.

Impurities and alloying elements can introduce magnetic behavior in lead. For example, if lead contains traces of ferromagnetic or paramagnetic impurities, it can acquire some magnetic properties due to the influence of those impurities. However, the presence of impurities is typically minimal in pure lead.

It’s important to note that even in pure lead, the diamagnetic effect is very weak compared to other magnetic materials. 6 The primary reason for lead’s non-magnetic behavior is its electron configuration, which lacks unpaired electrons in its metallic state, which are necessary for magnetism.

The influence of impurities, while present, is generally not significant enough to alter this fundamental property.

Therefore, while the purity of lead can affect its magnetic behavior to some extent, it remains a diamagnetic material with weak and temporary magnetism when subjected to strong external magnetic fields.

Further reading

Is Brass Magnetic?
Is Tin Magnetic?
Is Magnesium Magnetic?
Is Zinc Magnetic?
Why is Nickel Magnetic? 

About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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  2. Is Lead Magnetic? (n.d.). Is Lead Magnetic?
  3. P. (n.d.). Lead | Pb (Element) – PubChem. Lead | Pb (Element) – PubChem.
  4. Diamagnetic vs Paramagnetic. (2019, September 22). Chemistry Stack Exchange.
  5. Diamagnetism – Wikipedia. (2020, January 21). Diamagnetism – Wikipedia.
  6. Kong, L. B., Liu, L., Yang, Z., Li, S., Zhang, T., & Wang, C. (2018). Theory of ferrimagnetism and ferrimagnetic metal oxides. Magnetic, Ferroelectric, and Multiferroic Metal Oxides, 287–311.

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