Are Tin Cans Attracted to a Magnet?

Cans are perhaps the most well-known use for tin.
••• Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Tin, abbreviated Sn on the periodic table, has multiple forms or allotropes. The one used commercially, white tin, is paramagnetic, meaning that it does not create a magnetic field of its own but is magnetized in the presence of external magnetic fields. Most "tin cans," though, are not made entirely of tin.

Invention

The tin can was patented by British inventor Peter Durand in 1810 as a novel method of food preservation. The earliest tin cans were made of iron coated with a thin layer of tin for corrosion resistance.

Evolution

Tinplate steel, or steel with a very thin coating of tin, eventually replaced iron. In 1957, manufacturers began using aluminum instead. Aluminum simplified production by making cans from two pieces of metal rather than three. The bottom of the can is aluminum, while the cap is tinplate steel. In 1965, some manufacturers began coating steel cans with chromium instead of tin. Nearly all of these products are still colloquially referred to as "tin cans."

Magnetism

Iron, steel, tin and aluminum are paramagnetic materials -- so regardless of the composition of your "tin" can, it will be attracted to a magnet.

Related Articles

What Are Tin Cans Made Of?
The Difference Between Aluminum & Tin Can
What Is the Most Abundant Metal on Earth?
Physical and Chemical Properties for the Element Aluminum
How to Build Your Own Paper Foil Capacitor
How to Make Sodium Nitrate
What Does It Tell You if Iron Has an Atomic Number...
Can Brass Be Magnetized?
Different Types of Alloys & Use
What Is Zinc Alloy?
Is Pewter Safe?
How to Calculate an Equivalent Fraction
Elements Found in Household Products
Metal as a Renewable or Nonrenewable Resource
Earth Friendly Food Storage Containers
List of Recyclable Aluminum Cans
Foil Vs. Mylar
Physical Characteristics of Aluminum Oxide
Things Made Out of Tungsten
The Effects of Oxidation on Copper

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!