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How to Find Iron Ore in Your Backyard

Have you ever wondered where metals such as iron, copper or nickle come from? 

We can buy them from hardware store.

But where did the store get them from?

Do you need to be an iron ore miner to find them?

Turns out a lot of metals can simply be found in soil.

Try this simple extraction experiment.

Finding iron ore in your backyard can be a fun to spend the afternoon.

It’s also an educational way to play and teach kids about the world of science.

Extract iron from soil experiment

Finding Iron In Soil Experiment

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

In this simple iron extraction experiment, we will explore where metal can be found on Earth.

Warning: Magnets, especially neodymium which is rare earth metal, are very hazardous if swallowed. Please keep them away from children who still put everything into their mouths.

Materials

  • soil from your backyard
  • neodymium magnet

Tools

  • a piece of paper
  • adult supervision

Instructions

  1. Put soil on a piece of paper.

    Soil on paper
  2. Place the magnet underneath the soil and the paper.

    Put soil on paper and then magnet underneath the paper
  3. Move the magnet around and see what happens.
  4. As you move the magnet around, some of the soil will move with it. If there is enough magnetic soil, you can see the pieces align with the magnetic field of the magnet.

    A circle of soil separated from the pile of soil

Notes

  1. See how much magnetic soil you can collect in a sample of backyard soil.
  2. Find soil from other sources (e.g. school playground) and see if they produce a different amount.
  3. What is the color of the magnetic soil found?
  4. What metal do you think the magnetic soil contains?

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Why

Turns out pure iron is actually quite hard to find in nature. Iron mostly exists in the form of iron oxide, e.g. hematite (ferrous oxide).

So what you found is mostly likely one of the 16 iron oxides known on earth.

Of course the iron used to make our tools in everyday life doesn’t come from backyard soil.

Instead, iron is more economically extracted in large scale from iron ores using heavy equipment.

The mined iron ore is then processed to give molten iron.

Iron ore mountains. how to extract iron from soil.
Trucks are sending soil away from the Iron ore. how to extract iron from soil.
Soil on a piece of paper. An extract iron from soil experiment pin.

Reference

Soil Magnetism

Glass with blue water, light shining on it
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