Picture of Be a Scientist: Bottle Electricity.

This is a quick-and-dirty method for making a Leyden Jar (an early form of capacitor) from my old friend, the 35mm film cannister.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Tools and materials.

Picture of Tools and materials.


Something sharp.


Glue stick.


35mm film cannister

Aluminium (kitchen) foil


Sticky tape


Proper wire strippers.

Step 2: Make it.

Picture of Make it.

Do the inside first - it's the most fiddly part, but once it's done you won't damage it while you do the outside.

Cut a rectangular piece of foil large enough to line the cannister. Add a few dabs of glue-stick, then slide it into place inside the cannister. Make sure it doesn't stick out of the top of the canister. Try and keep edges of foil smooth and straight, or they will "leak" charge.

Added 1st March 2007:

I've just made a load with a bunch of fumble-fingered kids, and I've worked out a method for putting the foil inside:

> Cut the foil to size, and glue the back with the stick.

> Roll it loosely around your thumb, glue side out.

> Put your foiled thumb into the pot, and gently roll the pot around your thumb several times. The foil will smooth against the inside of the pot and can be slid down into place.


Too much glue near the top of the pot is as bad as having the foil too close to the top - it turns out that it is a fairly good conductor until it is bone dry (which can be a long time inside a closed pot).
1-40 of 320Next »
Can i use something instead of film canister?
Kiteman (author)  sahaab noor1 year ago


The first Leyden jars were glass jars, and instead of foil inside they used water.

As long as the vessel and lid are non-metallic, you'll be fine.

great one.truely amazing
Kiteman (author)  argha halder1 year ago
Can we use this project to charge it, I mean to statically charge a conductor and then chage it from that conductor.
To be honest, I don't know.

It looks promising, though.
chubawabu2 years ago
can you use an old medicine pot?
Kiteman (author)  chubawabu2 years ago
Absolutely - just as long as it isn't made of metal.
WarLlama2 years ago
This is going to be fun! I was going to build a bigger one, but I was afraid it would hurt someone. If I made one with like a bottle, how bad would it hurt?
Kiteman (author)  WarLlama2 years ago
Jump, more than hurt.
chubawabu2 years ago
Great instructable.
Kiteman (author)  chubawabu2 years ago
Quick tip: NEVER try to strip wires while your hands are covered in glue. You will end up making the wire so gluey that you cannot grab it, and your tools will be filthy. :)

By the way, GREAT Instructable
Kiteman (author)  Michael_Bell3 years ago
Hehe, thanks!
Higgs Boson3 years ago
So to charge it using the CRT you would just rub the wire connected to the inside foil on the screen? could you charge a leyden jar with a fly back transformer or would it have to be an electrostatic generator?
Kiteman (author)  Higgs Boson3 years ago
You know when you switch a CRT on or off, and you hear a crackle? Wave the back of your hand near the screen, and you can feel the static make the hairs move on the back of your hand. That's when you "wipe" the wire across the screen.

As for a flyback, I'm afraid I don't know - I've never tried it.
freeza363 years ago
how else can i charge it?
Kiteman (author)  freeza363 years ago
Which ones have you tried?
ballons don't work for me. I have yet to try my old tv
vishal113 years ago
Wat ll charge it
Kiteman (author)  vishal113 years ago
See step five - if you don't have a high-voltage source, use an old CRT or balloons.

Electorials4 years ago
nice tutorial!
it works perfectly ;)

Kiteman (author)  Electorials4 years ago
Thank you!
think30004 years ago
could you charge it with a plasma globe?
geeklord6 years ago
does a CRT monitor charge it very effectively???
put tin foil on the front of the screen then brush the wires on the tin foil, but be careful you can get A pretty nasty shock
O, good idea. I thought about doing that with a plasma globe.
Did you try that method?
i'll revamp this leyden jar with that method but with a 1.5l soda bottle

Kiteman (author)  geeklord6 years ago
Yes - switch it on and off, then brush one of the wires over the screen. Repeat that a couple of times (more if you made a large version.
2743 Kiteman6 years ago
BUT, what would happen if we hold the tin foil onfront of the crt tv screen with our bare hands?
Kiteman (author)  27436 years ago
The charge earths ("grounds") through your body instead of charging the jar.
this applies to tube tvs right?
Kiteman (author)  Coffee bean6 years ago
Yes - "CRT" stands for Cathode Ray Tube.
thanks i was pretty sure.
lunchweek4 years ago
Thank you, great instructable. I built two of these yesterday and they're working great!
Kiteman (author)  lunchweek4 years ago
Cool, glad you like it.
yoyoyolilay5 years ago
 wait, what source? do you just rub the wires together? or do the wires have to be connected to something?
Kiteman (author)  yoyoyolilay5 years ago
Have you not read this?
...try switching your CRT TV or monitor on and off whilst brushing the screen with the centre wire, or rub balloons on your jumper and stroke the bare wire along them them pick up charge.

1-40 of 320Next »