Skepticism

Hematite rings are fragile, not magic

Like you really needed to be told that

I know. If you’re a Skepchick reader you are very unlikely to think hematite rings are magic, and you’ve probably encountered the “magnetism/crystals cure everything”-woo before. My wife frequently states it’s very cute how I manage to be surprised at the continued prevalence of solidly debunked nonsense, but maybe I’m not alone and some of you need a refresher on this nonsense, and maybe there’s something new for you to learn too.

This particular claim rose to my attention again last week when someone made fun of a tweet stating “i got a hematite ring that absorbs bad energy and it broke in like 3 weeks“. The joke was that it seems like a good strategy for promoting shoddy products, but I think that misses the point. A nicely polished crystal ring isn’t a shoddy product just because it is fragile, but marketing its fragility as a magical property is deceptive marketing. Also the original post was spam, so making fun of it helped it spread.

Yeah, don’t feel sorry for the lady who posted this particular tweet and got made fun of, because she doesn’t exist. Neither does the other lady who also posts this exact message over and over along with the same blend of puppy dogs, motivational religious posts and repeated not-very-hidden-promotions for other overpriced trinkets. The two different online stores selling these trinkets do exist though, and they do state that hematite rings absorb negative energy and break when they absorb too much.

Two identical spam tweets promoting hematite rings.
Two identical spam tweets promoting hematite rings. (Author’s screenshots, fair use.)

Which is of course nonsense. It’s also nonsense that their magnetic properties will fix what ails you by magnetically aligning your red blood cells, like some of the etsy shops I came across searching this stated. They were reusing images for magnetic bracelets, which at least are close to some more substantial blood vessels, but which are also pure woo.

I’m not even sure if hematite is magnetic. The more sciency links I could find state that hematite is weakly paramagnetic and that you need magnetite if you want to stick your piece of rock to your refrigerator. I have a couple of such fridge magnets. But whether or not hematite is magnetic and whether the magnetic versions of these rings are actually magnetite or a mix of iron minerals seem like an irrelevant quibble. This is, in the end, just a reminder that “crystals and magnets are magic” is still wide spread woo, and that even mocking these spam accounts help them getting clicks and purchases, which is why I didn’t link to either those or the stores.

If I’ve inspired you to go get a sort-of-magnetic ring that will shatter if you high-five someone too hard, please try to find a store that doesn’t claim they are magic. And if you come across these spam accounts, try to resist mocking them and just report the account.

Bjørnar

Bjørnar used to be a CompSci-major high school teacher in Norway, but now lives with his American wife in Cincinnati where he gives her programming advice, walks the dog, works as a tutor and tries to decide what to be when he grows up.

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6 Comments

  1. I know a lot of people who have gotten hematite rings, not because they think they’re magic, but because a black ring is an asexuality symbol. They are notorious for breaking very easily though. The general advice I’ve heard is, find some other kind of ring, or else buy them in bulk!

    1. Interesting! I wonder how much they cost in bulk from a non-woo supplier. I expect the profit margin if your customers believe the rings are magic must be pretty high.

  2. From Google, “How is magnetic haematite made?”
    “Magnetic hematite is formed from finely powdered iron oxide and heated until it granulates. During this process a strong magnetic field is applied to the material so that the molecular poles line up to form a permanent magnet. Then it is cut into smaller blocks and polished to create magnetic hematite.”

    1. According to random internet post, the current price of iron oxide is $0.58 per kilogram. You might have to buy several tons of the stuff and have a convenient railroad siding to accept delivery, though. Anyway I think you can make a shitload of rings from a kilogram of iron oxide. I bet a pottery kiln is hot enough to sinter it. Amy?

      Amazon has 5lb bags of red iron oxide (Fe2O3) for $20 and 1lb bags of black iron oxide (Fe3O4) for $8.49, which sounds like a huge mark-up, but still dirt cheap. (See what I did there.)

  3. You can buy the rings in Australia for like 7 bucks, not too exorbitant for a novelty. There’s a bracelet on EBay for $7.70 too, quite attractive and might make a nice gift for your kids. Some are 5 or 10 times that though.

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