When you imagine a magnet, does the iconic horseshoe magnet come to mind? For many, it does! This U-shaped magnet has remained a popular depiction of magnets and has an interesting story behind it.

The History Behind Horseshoe Magnets

The horseshoe magnet was born in 1821 in England when William Sturgeon, a shoemaker, physicist, and inventor, started to experiment with magnets. He began wrapping wire around a u-shaped piece of iron and tested it by running an electric current through the wire. 

Fun Fact: This was the first electromagnet, and the first time a magnet was strong enough to lift a magnetic item heavier than its mass.

When he experimented with the u-shaped magnet, he realized it had a stronger pull force than a typical bar magnet. This is because the horseshoe shape brings the poles closer together, creating a concentrated magnetic field.

More On The Horseshoe Shape

U-shaped magnets also have increased coercivity, which means they have a stronger resistance to demagnetization than, say, bar magnets. This may not sound as exciting or innovative today, but Sturgeon’s finding was particularly useful because, at the time, most magnets were made of iron, which has a low resistance to demagnetization, resulting in a short life span.  

Today, we can find horseshoe magnets made of Alnico or ceramic/ferrite, but not neodymium. This is because neodymium already has a high coercivity and strong pull force, so these properties don't need to be increased. On the other hand, Alnico and ceramic are standard horseshoe magnets because the u-shape increases its pull force and coercivity.

Horseshoe Magnets From Apex Magnets

Horseshoe magnets are used in applications ranging from science experiments and picking up paper clips to lifting heavy objects in construction (with an industrial-sized magnet). At Apex Magnets, we sell ceramic/ferrite horseshoe magnets as well as custom magnets if you’d like to order a horseshoe magnet with a stronger pull force. 

If you’re interested in reading more about interesting facts and the history of magnets, visit our blog. We share magnet hacks, magnetic experiments, magnetic DIY projects, and more!