All vinegar, regardless of the grade or flavorings, contains acetic acid. Food grade vinegar generally contains five percent acid. This amount is weak enough to be considered safe for consumption, but strong enough to be used to power small items, such as a watch battery or LED bulb. When combined with the right materials, it's possible to produce a small, makeshift battery in a matter of minutes.
Things You'll Need
- 5 US quarters
- Aluminum foil
- Blotter paper
- LED bulb
Pour ¼ cup of vinegar into a bowl. Add 2 tsp. of salt and stir until the salt dissolves. If all of the salt does not dissolve, add a little more vinegar.
Cut five pieces of aluminum foil and five pieces of blotter paper to the same size as a US quarter. Blotter paper can be found at art stores and some beauty supply stores.
Put the five pieces of aluminum foil, the five pieces of blotter paper and five US quarters in the vinegar solution. Allow the materials to soak for at least five minutes so they can soak up the acid from the vinegar.
Lay one of the quarters down on a flat surface. Place a sheet of the blotter paper on top of the quarter, followed by a sheet of the aluminum foil. These three pieces make a single battery cell. Continue this stacking pattern until all of the materials are stacked up, which makes five complete cells. Five cells produces just enough energy to illuminate the LED.
Hold the positive lead of an LED bulb against the positive side of the battery -- the bottom quarter. Hold the negative lead against the negative side of the battery -- the top piece of aluminum foil. The LED should instantly light up upon contact with the vinegar batteries.
- "Chemical Demonstrations: A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry"; Bassam Z. Shakhashiri; 1992
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images