Is Pyrite Magnetic? (And Why?)

Yes, pyrite, also known as “fool’s gold,” is weakly magnetic. 1 It exhibits a paramagnetic behavior, meaning it is attracted to magnetic fields. However, its magnetic susceptibility is relatively low compared to ferromagnetic materials like iron or nickel. 2

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.

Why is pyrite weakly magnetic?

Pyrite is weakly magnetic due to its composition and crystal structure. Pyrite is an iron sulfide mineral with a chemical formula of FeS2. 3 The weak magnetism of pyrite is primarily attributed to the presence of iron (Fe) within its structure.

Iron is a ferromagnetic material, which means it can be strongly magnetized. 4 However, in the case of pyrite, the iron atoms are arranged in a crystal lattice, forming a cubic structure known as a pyrite crystal. This crystal structure interferes with the alignment of the magnetic domains within the material.

Magnetic domains are regions within a material where the magnetic moments of individual atoms align. 5 In ferromagnetic materials, these domains align in the same direction, resulting in a strong overall magnetic field. However, in pyrite, the crystal structure disrupts the alignment of these domains, causing them to be randomly oriented and canceling out the overall magnetic effect.

As a result, pyrite exhibits only weak magnetism. When exposed to a magnetic field, pyrite will become weakly attracted to the magnet but does not retain a magnetic field once the external magnetic field is removed. 6

It’s important to note that the weak magnetism of pyrite is different from its metallic appearance, which is why it is often mistaken for gold. While gold is not magnetic at all, pyrite can exhibit a slight magnetic response due to its iron content.

Further reading

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Is Water a Matter?
Is Sound a Matter?

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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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  1. Pyrrohtite | U.S. Geological Survey. (2016, January 1). Pyrrohtite | U.S. Geological Survey.
  2. Burgardt, P., & Seehra, M. (1977, April). Magnetic susceptibility of iron pyrite (FeS2) between 4.2 and 620 K. Solid State Communications, 22(2), 153–156.
  3. P. (n.d.). Pyrite. Pyrite | FeS2 | CID 14788 – PubChem.
  5. Magnetic Domains and Hysteresis. (n.d.). Magnetic Domains and Hysteresis.
  6. Fool’s Gold | Physics Van | UIUC.

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