Despite its exotic-sounding name, DNA is ubiquitous - it can be found in every cell of every living thing and almost everywhere on the planet. Nonetheless, we rarely come face-to-face with the molecule itself - and it's not because DNA is difficult to find or isolate! In this instructable, we'll show you how to isolate your own DNA with little more than some dish soap, table salt, high-proof alcohol, a shot glass, and a bit of your own saliva.

It only takes a couple of minutes, and after you've isolated your own DNA, you can either drink it back down in a tasty "DNA shot" (great party trick) or better yet, purify it further for more analysis*.

Materials & Set Up
  • 1/4 of a shot glass full of your saliva
  • several drops of dish soap (look for sodium laurel sulfate in the ingredients)
  • a pinch of table salt (1/16 of a teaspoon)
  • some contact-lens cleaning solution, meat tenderizer, or pineapple juice (optional)
  • Ice-cold 120-proof+ liquor (overproof rum works well)
The chemicals used in this experiment are "everyday" household items and are not particularly dangerous. Nonetheless, exercise extra caution and think twice if you decide to consume your DNA shot and ABSOLUTELY do not substitue rubbing alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or any other non-consumable alcohol for the overproof rum we used. Besides using "denatured' alcohol, the other potential safety concern is the dishsoap added to the mixture. A couple drops won't hurt you, but if you are concerned about it, feel free to leave it out.

This instructable was produced by DIYbio - an organization for amateur biotechnologists. Visit diybio.org for more information.

EDIT: Some DIYbioers are developing a simple gel box and a gel box on steroids. We should have some instructables put together for them before Dec 08. If you are interested in helping, please join the DIYbio google group!

Step 1: Salivation...GO!

1/4 of a shot glass of saliva is harder to produce than you might think! Work your tongue against your cheeks and teeth as you think of a big juicy grilled steak / tofu cube / dim sum, or Muffins / baked cookies . I had to spit about 5 times to fill the glass 1/4th full.

If you are making the DNA shot for someone else, be sure to let them know where the DNA came from.
We did this in biology a few years ago with strawberries. Is there any way to do this and extract the DNA from white blood cells?
i did this with strawberries too. oh, and we used freezer cold methynol. we used a microscope to look at it after. we saw some double helixes.
Wow - that must have been some microscope ;-)<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.pcbpolice.com/">PCBPolice</a><br/>
no, just a typical school grade light-microscope.<br />
<p>you can, all this does is it unravels the dna so its bigger.</p>
what grade? I did it in grade 5 with strawberries and used methalated spirits
Um. BS. If you saw double helices, you were hallucinating.
Yeah, you need an electron microscope for those...
A more important question is can you isolate white blood cells? That is far more difficult than ethanol precipitation
There are no White blood cells in Strawberries :-) But if you want DNA from WBC's, you might consider following this protocol using puss from an acne lesion (a puss filled zit, or other source of puss) instead of spit. Otherwise, you'll need to get some blood, separate the Red blood cells (very easy really) and then you'll have mostly WBCs. It depends on how "purely WBC" the DNA needs to be. Why do you want to do this?
I was just interested to see if this could be used for some amateur research or something. I think the DNA would need to be from only WBC.
MediaTech sells a product call <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.cellgro.com/shop/customer/product.php?productid=16628&cat=0&page=1">Lymphocyte Separation medium</a>Lymphocyte Separation medium (cat # 25-072-CI, 100 mL for &lt;$20). That will do the trick, if you're starting with whole blood<br/>
Thank you. I will look into that.
<p>Did it! Used rubbing alcohol instead of rum, and rice instead of human saliva. We have no intention of consuming the finished product, we're doing this to test our DIYbio centrifuge and getting ready for a rice DNA barcoding workshop. <br><br>Thanks for the Instructable. </p>
<p>I made it! I used toothpaste instead of dish soap and the results were very good. In the pic there is the vial where i put what i think is my DNA and ethanol.</p>
WARNING: DRINKING ANY AMOUNT OF DISH SOAP CAN CAUSE DIARRHEA. Just wanted to put that out that since nobody's said it yet.
Would this process work only on animal cells? Or could it be used to extract plant DNA as well? What about bacteria? Is the DNA pure enough to use in experiments?
Is there an &quot;under-21&quot; way to do this?
the 70% or 91% isopropanol you can buy at any supermarket should be fine, just don't drink it : )
Any chance I'll get superpowers, if I expose the shot of DNA to some radiation? Maybe 10 seconds in the microwave...
not to be too crude, but the implications of &quot;5 minute dna extraction in a shot glass&quot; had me giggling for a moment.
Can I use Absinthe instead of overproof rum?
Ew. cool project. Would there be anything interesting to see under a microscope?
&nbsp;i dont think you can see dna under a microscope if you could it would have to magnify like one centillion time<br /> <br /> oh and yes centillion is a number it has 330 zeros<br /> thats a lot<br />
No, magnification of M=10^8 should be sufficient. Neutron scattering could do a good job for regarding DNA molecules.
lol<br />
If you chew your cheeks, you get more DNA.
Fascinating. Why had I no idea this could be done so easily?
&nbsp;Hey - how long can these last for, What liquid can I preserve mine in (indefinitely), and How do you dye them?<br /> <br />
we did this in Project STEM and you can just swish salt water and it works fine.<br />
Canida is almost right. Pineapple, kiwi, and papaya all contain &quot;proteases,&quot; enzymes that break-down proteins. However, each fruit contains a pretty different enzyme: pineapple has bromelain, kiwi has actinidin, figs have ficin, and papaya has papain.&nbsp;
hahaha nice trick! I did this with onions!!<br />
really nice..im going to try it right now<br /> wish it works...
What if you could clone yourself with it? That would be shweet.<br />
you can do this with rubbing alcohol
yes but drinking rubbing alcohol will kill you
yes, but you don't have to drink it.&nbsp;
i dont know how much I would want to drink contacts lens solution considering what it does to the bowels<br />
&nbsp;we did that with spinach one time
did you just drink dish washing detergent and/or meat tenderizer? bleah :P
Steak contains meat tenderizer...
also, your plate must contain traces of dish washing detergent.....
Hmm...What if...Nah.
If you are not consuming the shot, could isopropyl alcohol be substituted for the ethanol?
Never mind... I just answered my question with more research! It will work; I just won't drink it (I'm underage anyway).
Very, very intresting! Nicely done! You mentioned staining it - how?
That's what I was wondering! Is there anyway to safely keep the genetic material overnight and then transport it to school for more scrutiny?
sorry i messed up on my post i was responding to jschroedl's post lol
Thanks I was looking for some thing like this for a science project and you saved my grades so I used it and it worked very well THANKS

About This Instructable




Bio: I am passionate about amateur biotechnology and more generally what is called Citizen Science. After graduating with a degree in Biology from Davidson College, I ... More »
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