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Magnet Safety

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Neodymium magnets offer a convenient, secure, and invisible fastening for some of the Salamander’s wearable creatures, and they’re among the most play-worthy objects ever invented. If you want to avoid putting holes in your clothing or hats (or to go easy on your fingers or eyes) while placing your creature, you can’t beat a pair of hidden magnets!

But they must be treated with respect. Handle them carelessly, and they’re dangerous – even lethal – and they can also lose their grip on your creature.


Hands off! Leave the magnets inside their housings (the creature's body or feet, and the face of the keeper button it clings to); that will avert most of the hazards listed on this page.

Stay far enough away! Make sure the magnets are at least 4 inches from anything else that makes use of magnetic fields: cell phones, credit cards, computer monitors, floppy discs, pacemakers. (Note that the safe distance depends on the strength of the magnets involved, which varies according to their combined size. The pairs of magnets in use here should be OK beyond 3 inches – but don't risk it!)

Inside a Magnet Chipmunk
A. 1/2" magnet wired into armature (back view)
B. 1/2" magnet half covered (belly view; an oval ball of wool backs the magnet, and a wet-felted panel surrounds it; the next step will swing that flap across for a thin but dense concealing layer)
C. 3/4" steel washer for keeper button
D. 3/4" leather washer for keeper button (to be glued in place)
E. 1/2" magnet for keeper button (to be glued in place, reinforcing the magnetic hold)
F. 3/4" gummed label for back of keeper button (to be cut out, stuck in place, and lacquered)
Keep the magnets close enough together! Avoid anything that will separate the pair of magnets more than a tenth of an inch – and less is better. The magnets are hugely strong when they can touch each other, but the force drops off fast. The type used most often in the figures has almost 5 pounds’ pull when touching the type in the keeper button, but only about a pound at a tenth of an inch... and less than half that at a quarter-inch.

That may still seem like plenty for a creature that weighs less than an ounce, but you need the insurance. In particular, pay attention to other things made of iron or steel that you wear at the same time as your creature (purse fittings, seat belt attachments, even bra wires). If they get too close, they can steal the keeper button – allowing your creature to escape. Similarly, anything that knocks into your creature from the side or below may tip it enough to break the contact. Pay attention and they should be secure.

Tip for hat-clingers: You should be able to pick up the creature and have the whole hat follow it up. If the hat pulls away from the magnet, chances are fairly good that your friend will try to escape. You can still try to wear it, but consider adding a leash tied or pinned separately to the hat as backup.

Show some sense! Make sure the magnets stay out of the hands or mouth of any person or animal that might not follow these instructions.


Pinching. Out of their housings, even these relatively small magnets can pinch a fold of skin hard enough to hurt.

Splitting. Neodymium magnets are brittle. If one breaks, the pieces may fly off fast enough to damage your eyes. And then you have more smaller magnets that can relate to one another in unfortunate ways.

Internal injury. The magnets pose a choking hazard, and swallowing them is worse. Inside a living gut, magnets can pinch off a loop, requiring surgery and a dose of good luck to remove safely.

But how do magnets get inside?

~ Deliberate swallowing, say of a keeper button mistaken for a piece of candy, or of an escaped magnet. (One isn’t so bad... but it may break inside – and with magnets, two’s a crowd.)

~ Play at piercing. “Look, Ma, I’ve got a stud in my nose” might not lead to harm, but “Look, Ma, I’ve got a stud in my tongue“ is a recipe for disaster.

Overheating. Your magnets are comfortable if you are, but above 175F (80C) they demagnetize. And don’t let them burn; the fumes are toxic!

Prefer to avoid magnets entirely?

All the small to medium-sized wearable creatures can be built on clutch pins or necklaces. Magnets are great fun – but if they’re not safe for you or yours, they’re not necessary.