Posted by John H. on May 20, 2012 | 30 comments

DIY vinegar battery lights LED for several days

DIY vinegar battery lights LED for several days

Always wanted to make your own battery? Home brew electricity! Maybe you already heard about salt water batteries made from sea water, but this is something you can easily do at home in a few minutes. This homemade vinegar battery is based on two different metals suspended in an acid solution. Produce electricity from vinegar, which acts as the electrolyte! Electricity is generated by reaction of the two different metals (the electrodes) with the vinegar (the electrolyte). So you can just place two different kinds of metal in a conducting solution and that’s it, you get a battery!

How to make a vinegar battery

You’ll need two different kinds of metal, for example copper and zinc and some acid liquid.
The copper is the + and the zinc is the

vinegar batteryThe electrons travel from the through the electrolyte (acid) to the + and creates an electric current.

You’ll have to gather

  • a few plastic bottle caps
  • a few zinc coated nails (or strips of aluminum foil)
  • some (old) copper wire
  • vinegar

The copper wire you can get from for example an old (or new) power cord. You can do this with one, or -in my case- 9 bottle caps. Fill the bottle caps with vinegar (no vinegar? Try it with lemon, orange or apple juice or whole lemons). Doesn’t have to be to the rim.

nail copper vinegar battery

If you have stripped the copper wire from the power cord, cut it in about 2 inch pieces (about 5 cm.) and tie one end to a nail.

If you have 9 caps, repeat this with 8 other nails.

When you’re done, put one end of a copper wire in one cap, and the nail which is tied to it in another cap.vinegar battery Then take another nail and put the nail in a new cap and its copper wire with the nail from the first one. Don’t let the metals touch each other (it won’t electrocute you if it happens, there is hardly any current to produce any sparks).

Serial battery for more power!

You’re now basically wiring a serial battery. Every cap with a nail and copper wire is one vinegar battery! So now if you’ve done that, your battery is reading for use. So the first cap has a nail and the last one a copper wire.

If you have a multimeter, hook it up to see how many volts you’re getting. Now, mine showed a voltage of around 4 volts.

led light vinegar batteryNot enough to run your fridge with it unfortunately, but I found a LED somewhere from an old garden light and hooked it up.

It’s still burning after 4 days!

You can try making diy batteries with all kinds of stuff, I got 0.5 volts from buttermilk and icetea. Salt water also works. If you connect a Joule Thief to it you might actually charge a battery with this one!

UPDATE: Instead of vinegar I used water! Guess what happens

You need an acid powered gift? Then you might be interested in one of the following science kits, available on Amazon for just a few bucks. Run a LCD clock on a lemon or potato:

30 Responses to “DIY vinegar battery lights LED for several days”

  1. asd says:

    is it possible to make a vinegar battery without multi meter?

    • John H. says:

      Sure! A multi meter is not necessary to make a vinegar battery. If you have one it’s nice to do some experiments and measure voltage, but otherwise you won’t need it 🙂

  2. praveen says:

    what is the time period in
    which the l.e.d glow

    • John H. says:

      You mean how long it’ll burn? I got it glowing for more than a week! Could be more even but I stopped the experiment before it stopped glowing.

  3. divya says:

    I gone thru all the steps, but it didn’t work. The vinegar I used was form the cooking shelf. Is it matter the vinegar used?

    • John H. says:

      It should work, because it also works with water 🙂 try and see if there is no short circuit somewhere… If you have a volt meter, measure the voltage between the different ‘batteries’ (caps) this way you can find where something is wrong. Or maybe you have a bad LED or you have to change the polarity of the LED.

    • Bharath surya says:

      No not at all . whatever the vinegar is used volts will be generated but make sure about the connections that u have made coz zinc is -ve and copper is positive so make the circuit accordingly in such a way that the current flows from -ve to positive also make sure that the metal strips dont touch each other inside the vinegar

  4. Anonymous says:

    can you help me on my SIP by answering these questions please? What is that backround of study,Hypothesis,Significance of the study,Scope and Limitation, and its recimmendtion. please I’m waiting for your help .Hurry thanks!

  5. Anonymous_Shad says:

    what if it fails? i used the extracts of Averrhoa bilimbi and Calamansi but it didn’t light the bulb. After it i saw the nail covered by the copper wire corrode can it be possible that it is the reason why the bulb didn’t light?

    • John H. says:

      Did you try it with other liquids first? Also don’t forget the LED has a + and –

    • Richelle says:

      After you put the copper wire around the nail,make sure that the wire does not go near the other nail,but I ain’t sure if this answer

      • John H. says:

        Exactly, the copper wire mustn’t touch any other nail.

        • Ian L. says:

          That’s not true, the wire can touch other nails. It is the fact that your wire or your nail were corroded. If you can’t get the bulb to light, then find a different nail and use 18-gauge copper wire. Since the copper wire is a good conductor, then if you tried to use a different liquid with a different acid level, then the experiment might work out better than it did the first time.

  6. Mikael says:

    what do you mean about “Then take another nail and put the nail in a new cap and its copper wire with the nail from the first one.” I dont understand it.

    • John H. says:

      Yes I notice it’s a bit confusing… You’re making a serial battery, so that means that you have to put every copper part of a nail/copper combination in ONE cap together with the NAIL part of another nail/copper combination. Look at the pics, maybe it’s better to see it that way…

  7. nusrat says:

    Isn’t it too expensive??? Pls rply fast..

  8. Anonymous says:

    how long will it last?

  9. Ian.K says:

    how did you connect the led to the wire

  10. Stephen N. says:

    do I need to replace the copper and nails after 4 days to make it work again?

  11. Anonymous says:

    what is the role or work of vinegar in this circuit ?????????
    I need reply now .hurry up please

  12. Gil says:

    Would cleaning vinegar be a better electrolyte than white vinegar?

    • Harmjan H. says:

      Good question! Worth trying out. If there is a difference (more volts/amps), we have to find out what the difference is between the two vinegars.

  13. TJ says:

    Is it possible to make a unit large enough to power a house during a power failure? Would several cells be a better approach?
    How would one compute its size and that of the copper and zinc rods/plates?

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