Difference Wiki

Permanent Magnet vs. Temporary Magnet: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 18, 2023
A permanent magnet retains its magnetism indefinitely, while a temporary magnet loses its magnetism when the inducing field is removed.

Key Differences

A permanent magnet is a material that remains magnetic without external influence, while a temporary magnet becomes magnetized only in the presence of a magnetic field.
Permanent magnets are made of materials like ferrite or rare earth metals that intrinsically possess magnetic properties. Temporary magnets, on the other hand, are often made of soft iron or steel and only exhibit magnetism when subjected to an external magnetic field.
Over time, permanent magnets can retain their magnetic properties, maintaining their attraction or repulsion effects. Temporary magnets, conversely, will lose their magnetism after the external magnetic influence is taken away, returning to their non-magnetic state.
The applications of permanent magnets are vast, ranging from refrigerator magnets to components in electric motors. Temporary magnets find use in electromagnets, where the magnetic property can be controlled, like in doorbells or cranes.
While permanent magnets can be weakened or demagnetized by excessive heat or opposing magnetic fields, temporary magnets rely on external conditions, reverting to a non-magnetic state when those conditions change.

Comparison Chart


Often made of ferrite or rare earth metals
Commonly made of soft iron or steel

Duration of Magnetism

Retains magnetism indefinitely
Loses magnetism when inducing field is removed


Refrigerator magnets, electric motor components
Electromagnets in doorbells, cranes

Susceptibility to Conditions

Can weaken with excessive heat or opposing fields
Magnetism relies on external conditions

Magnetic Induction

Does not require an external field for magnetism
Requires an external magnetic field for magnetism

Permanent Magnet and Temporary Magnet Definitions

Permanent Magnet

A material that maintains its magnetic properties.
The refrigerator door held several photos with a permanent magnet.

Temporary Magnet

A non-permanent magnet depending on external magnetic fields.
The doorbell mechanism relies on a temporary magnet to function.

Permanent Magnet

A magnet not requiring external influence to be magnetic.
Despite years of use, the permanent magnet retained its strength.

Temporary Magnet

A material that exhibits magnetism under certain conditions.
When placed near a strong magnet, the nail became a temporary magnet.

Permanent Magnet

An object that produces a consistent magnetic field.
The electric motor uses a permanent magnet to generate motion.

Temporary Magnet

An object that requires an external field to become magnetic.
The crane uses a temporary magnet to lift heavy metal objects.

Permanent Magnet

A magnet with persistent magnetic characteristics.
The permanent magnet in the toy made it stick to metal surfaces.

Temporary Magnet

A magnet whose properties cease without external influence.
Once the power was cut off, the temporary magnet dropped the metal sheet.

Permanent Magnet

A naturally magnetized piece of magnetic material.
Scientists study the properties of various permanent magnets.

Temporary Magnet

A magnet with short-lived magnetic characteristics.
Experimenting with the coil and battery, she created a temporary magnet.


Are refrigerator magnets permanent or temporary?

Refrigerator magnets are typically permanent magnets.

What is a permanent magnet?

A permanent magnet is a material that retains its magnetism without external influence.

Do permanent magnets work in space?

Yes, permanent magnets retain their magnetic properties in space.

How does a temporary magnet work?

A temporary magnet becomes magnetized in the presence of an external magnetic field and loses magnetism when removed.

Can a temporary magnet be turned on and off?

Yes, the magnetism of a temporary magnet, like an electromagnet, can be controlled by altering the inducing magnetic field.

Why do temporary magnets lose their magnetism?

Temporary magnets lose their magnetism when the external inducing magnetic field is removed or altered.

Can a temporary magnet be made into a permanent magnet?

Not exactly. While you can induce magnetism in a temporary magnet, it won't retain its magnetism indefinitely like a permanent magnet.

Do permanent magnets ever wear out?

Over time and with external influences like heat or opposing fields, permanent magnets can weaken.

Can you make a temporary magnet stronger?

Yes, by increasing the strength of the inducing magnetic field, you can enhance the magnetism of a temporary magnet.

In what devices might I find a temporary magnet?

Temporary magnets are used in devices like doorbells, cranes, and certain types of electric relays.

Can electricity influence a temporary magnet?

Yes, electromagnets are temporary magnets created by running an electric current through a coil.

How are permanent magnets created?

Permanent magnets are created by aligning the magnetic domains in a material, often through heating and cooling in a magnetic field.

Are all metals permanent magnets?

No, not all metals are permanent magnets; only certain materials exhibit permanent magnetic properties.

Are there different types of permanent magnets?

Yes, there are several types like neodymium, ferrite, and alnico, each with distinct properties.

Do permanent magnets have north and south poles?

Yes, like all magnets, permanent magnets have north and south poles.

Can you recharge a permanent magnet?

Yes, by exposing it to a strong magnetic field, you can realign its magnetic domains and "recharge" its magnetic properties.

Can a permanent magnet lose its magnetism?

Yes, permanent magnets can weaken or lose magnetism when exposed to excessive heat or opposing magnetic fields.

What materials are commonly used for temporary magnets?

Temporary magnets are often made of soft iron or steel.

What happens if a temporary magnet is kept in a magnetic field for a long time?

Over prolonged exposure, a temporary magnet may retain some magnetism, but it will still lose it over time without the external field.

Can you separate the north and south poles of a permanent magnet?

No, if you cut a permanent magnet in half, you will have two smaller magnets, each with its own north and south poles.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons