To permanently magnetize metal you need to heat the metal past its Curie Point and the allow it to cool within a strong magnetic field.
1. Strong Electromagnetic coil. See http://education.jlab.org/qa/electromagnet_02.html for instructions on how to make one from a car battery.
2. An IRON rod. Different metals require different heat. These instructions assume that you're using iron. (NOT STEEL).
3. A propane torch.
4. Protective gear (fire extinguisher, safety goggles, flameproof gloves, tongs, FIRE EXTINGUISHER, etc)
5. Infrared (touchless) thermometer capable of measuring at least 800C/1500F
In a room with proper ventilation, with a cement or or other non-flammable floor, setup the magnetic coil. The coil should be large enough for the iron rod to pass through easily without touching. The iron rod will be heated, and that will most likely damage the insulation on the wire. Please keep in mind that the coil may end up being a one-time use item.
Activate the electromagnetic coil. Begin heating the iron rod. It will begin to glow red hot. Using the thermometer heat it well above 770C / 1420F, its Curie point. Once heated, it will loose all magnetic properties. If you were to try and stick a magnet to it, it would simply fall off (and at that temperature, possibly damage the magnet!) Quickly place it within the (activated) electromagnetic coil and allow it to cool within the coil.
You now have a permanently magnetized piece of iron.
I've read other answers that indicate you can rub a magnet on iron, or just put in an electromagnetic coil, but these only temporarily magnetize the item. A degaussing coil or strong magnetic field will disrupt them. The key here is heating to the Curie point..very important.
PS - this will not be as strong as Neodymium or 'rare-earth' magnets. Those are made by compressing tiny inherently magnetized particles and then coating them to keep them intact. But it should stay permanent even in the presence of other magnetic fields.
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