Step 2: Making Fe3O4 for the Iron Electrode

If your iron is already coated with Fe3O4 ('black rust'), you can skip this step. In the photos below, I show bailing wire, one possible option that comes coated with Fe3O4 and can be found in most hardware stores.

The best option is to heat the iron until orange (temperature of decalescence 475 F to 525 F), either in a forge or with a torch, it will oxidise and leave behind Fe3O4.

If you live near an ocean, leaving iron in seawater for an extended period should create a coating of Fe3O4. Or, you might scavenge for some Fe3O4 coated iron near the shorelines - I found some last time I was near the ocean.

Since I am not near an ocean at the moment, don't know any blacksmiths, and wanted to speed up the process, I used the following recipe:
  • First you will need to create Fe2O3 (red rust). If your iron already has a good coating of red rust, you may skip this part. If you need to make your own red rust, it is a little trickier since you will need to handle a few chemicals, but not bad. My recipe is not optimal, if you have Nitric acid and washing soda you can do better, but neither of these chemicals can be easily found at a hardware store - so, for most people, this recipe should be easier to implement. Near the concrete section of the hardware store, you will likely find something labeled as 'Muriatic Acid' - it is actually 30% HCL. Use your rubber gloves when handling any chemicals. Dip your iron nail in a mason jar of this acid and you will be left with a clean piece of iron ready to be oxidized. Now, pour another jar full of household Clorox bleach (or generic) and dip the cleaned iron into this solution. Allow the iron to dry in a glass dish - and you should have a nice coat of Fe2O3 (red rust).
  • Now that we have a good coat of Fe2O3, we will convert this to Fe3O4. The Fe3O4 will appear as a black coating over the iron, where the red rust was formerly. Heat a pot of water on the stove until it is boiling and place the red rust coated piece of iron you created in the boiling water, after a few minutes it should turn black, now you have Fe3O4.
<p>After reading this, I constructed my battery and tested it in a vacuum chamber to emulate the conditions of a tomb.</p>
<p>Hi there,</p><p>I kind of made this.... I downloaded an STL file of the vase and printed it on my Replicator 3d printer.</p><p>For the cap, I created a cap that is suitable for some 15mm copper pipe. On the top, a tang needs to be cut using a dremmel or similar.</p><p>The pipe has been slit so that once the bottom spacer has been fitted, electrolyte can reach the centre electrode.</p><p>I could not find any iron, locally so I used some 6mm square mild steel bar instead of iron.</p><p>I used lemon juice as the electrolyte. The aim was to copper plate electrodes using copper sulphate in water. I separated the electrodes in the test tube using a small piece of plastic cut from a plastic bottle. </p><p>The result was an open circuit voltage between 1.4 and 1.8 volts and the copper plating took about 20 mins....</p><p>My history group was well inmpressed :)</p>
<p>Hi Ian. Thank you for putting this together. It looks very thorough. <br>I am a physics teacher in a small school in Guatemala. The social studies <br>teacher sent me your instructable since he is studying the relevant period with <br>his middle school students. He asked me for assistance in creating a classroom <br>activity for his students. I am thinking that if we can light an LED, that <br>would be fun. Maybe we would wire some cells in series. I am most experienced <br>with the typical &ldquo;lemon battery&rdquo; activities. If we use an alkaline as you did, <br>instead of an acid, do we get a voltage right off the bat? I assume we would, <br>but your mention of charging made me wonder. Materials are very difficult to acquire <br>where we are. Would baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) in water work? How about <br>just salt water as an electrolyte?</p>
More speculation on uses of a homopolar motor. <br> <br>You might research the time periods in which the Baghdad batteries were found, to see if magical movement or spinning of objects was one of the &quot;features&quot; of a religion or specific religious ceremony. If so, you might be able to get enough descriptions or find a drawing of one and see if a homopolar motor could be the mechanism. <br> <br>The movement of the wire, and anything attached, would look like magic to most people of the period. Doing some mumbo jumbo, claiming you breathed life into an inanimate piece of wire and then putting the wire over the battery where it spun all during a ritual, would make you appear very powerful. Which would be worth a lot of effort to most priest of any time period. <br> <br>A spiral wire shaped like a snake could be the most likely shape, since a snake's movement and shape would be somewhat similar to the shape of a spiral of wire spinning around the battery. The spinning is similar to how a snake climbs a vertical limb. <br> <br>It is also possible that the wire might be in a shape that it would easy to attach streamers to. <br> <br>Keith
interesting and cool
LOL...when I first saw the title, I thought &quot;What?! Why would somebody put an instructable on how to make an IED?!?!&quot; PHEW
Hi,<br>As I understood from this Fe2O3 can easily be boiled to convert it to Fe3O4? I have a batch of 50g of Fe2O3 and I would like to make Fe3O4 so I just put it in a pan and boil it? Should the water be destiled or normal tap water?
I used regular tap water and i turned out fine. You should try the distilled and see if there is a difference.
Hello, I am interested in helping my son create a battery for a science project. We watched Ancient Aliens and he is quite keen on doing this. I noticed that one comment was about a science fair. How did you make this battery fit into the Scientific Method? If I was to create, say, a potato battery and a Baghdad battery and compare the charges, might this work? I'd love a bit more info on how the science fair went! <br><br>Also, THANK you Ian W for answering questions, and providing this resource.
My daughter is doing this for her science project this year; we're comparing the voltage output between several different citrus juices (which is probably what was used originally).
You cant just leave the nail on a stove top burner on high?
Do you know how much voltage, amps, and watts the original battery can make?
Neat! I have the very same meter as the one in the last pic. I even have the stylin' hard leather case. <br><br>Frivolity aside, I was wondering if the original item used bog or meteoritic iron for the iron electrode and whether said slightly different compositions would affect things like oxide formation, etc.
&nbsp;Hello,<br /> I am a student researching this battery, but my teacher says that I must have some good book sources for this rather&nbsp;implausible&nbsp;battery. I have seen the online book you mentioned and one other book (The Puzzle of Ancient Man) that mention the battery, but could you possibly give me another book?<br /> Thanks,&nbsp;<br /> Weslendottir<br /> <br /> P.S.<br /> If this is a public post, anyone who has the info I requested, please feel free to answer.<br />
Hi, <br> <br>Here is where I bought the book: <br> <br>The Parthian Battery <br>Electric Current 2,000 Years Ago? <br>The History of Surface Finishing <br> <br>Von Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. habil. Nasser Kanani. <br>Erste Auflage 2004. <br>95 Seiten in englischer Sprache. <br> <br>411Leon <br> <br> <br>
The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Battery">Wikipedia article</a> provides references to two other printed/published sources: Welfare and Fairley's <i>Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World</i>; and a peer-reviewed journal article, Von Handorf, D E., &quot;The Baghdad battery - myth or reality?&quot; <i>Plating and Surface Finishing</i> (USA). Vol. 89, no. 5, pp. 84&ndash;87. May 2002.<br><br>The latter is likely to be hard to find outside of a university research (or engineering department) library. If you are in the U.S., then once you locate (e.g., using online catalogs) a nearby library which does have it, your own local librarian can request it through the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) program. Outside of the U.S. (Iceland?), I don't know whether similar programs exist.
I like this! <br> <br>I built 5 of these jars. <br> <br>Another book is 'The Parthied Battery' from a German publisher. I have one. <br> <br>I like what strmrnnr says about the blood purifier. I had planned to look at the possibility of using this battery for a sort of chromatogragh using paper and having this battery place a voltage across the wet paper causing ions to migrate to either side. <br> <br>Anyone know about the Avestrya battery from 5000 years ago? At one time I had some references to hand, and planned to look at the Archives at the University of Iowa where there should be some original documents relating to this. I understand the temple of Avestrya (spelling?) was in existence from 5000 years ago into modern times and may still exist. They wrote on palm leaves that were preserved. It had two bowls with a strip of metal between.
Nice project! There is something VERY STRANGE about the SUMERIANS ! They were &quot;on to something&quot; , that's why the us troops COVERED UP ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES! &quot;SOMEONE&quot; doesn't whant us to know MORE about that part of the world!<br>I can bet that &quot;INTERESTING EVENTS&quot; WILL HAPPEN IN THE NEAR FUTURE !
on the construction overview and materials it says that stranded and solid wires are both required.&nbsp; On the&nbsp; constructing electrode pairs it only says that stranded wire is needed.&nbsp; What do I do with solid wire?&nbsp; Do you mean stranded or solid?
As far as I understood, the stranded wire is only used in the small scale test, when using multiple smaller nails as an iron core. It figures that it would be easier to weave the strands between the nails to ensure contact than with the solid wire...<br />
I have been looking at HHO for use in cars.&nbsp; There is a similar device to Baghdad battery that is currently being applied to vehicles for increasing fuel efficiency.<br /> <br /> After reading an article on the B battery, it made me wonder if it was perhaps not a battery, but a torch or lantern.&nbsp; Would that be possible?
What do you mean by PotassiumOxygenHydrogen 20%? What's the 80%? How many volts does it give you?
I would assume that the other 80% of the solution would be some other &quot;neutral&quot; fluid, the 20% / 80% is a ratio of strength, EG: How much of POH there is to how much of the other &quot;fluid&quot; by volume. <br/><br/>Or purity if you prefer.<br/><br/>A ratio of 98% POH would be very strong and a percentage of 2% would be considered weak, yet still dangerous enough, it would just take longer to do any damage.<br/><br/>As for voltage I would assume it would be somewhere in the range of 0.8-1.7V. <br/><br/><em>Don't quote me on that though, that's just a guess.</em> :-)<br/><br/>I expect the author will get back to us shortly. I hope so anyways.<br/>
The other 80% is distilled water - the calculation is based on mass, so 20% of the total mass would be KOH flakes If there is interest, I can provide a section on performing the calculations, or point to a general chemistry text that explains the process in greater detail
Thanks for getting back to me! Great instructable -- anybody could learn a lot from this. Distilled water of course! -- Wish i'd thought of that! Same as lead-acid batteries, I assume it was de-ionised too (if they aren't one and the same -- I think they are more or less right?) I understand the process of purifying water through distillation -- I have done that in one miniscule batch -- something on the order of about 15ml. lol I don't think there is too much need for the calculations and how to do them -- though that being said, perhaps it would be beneficial for other users as well as myself. So yeah, post away! 8-)
I have been told on several occasions that the drip outside of your home from you home air conditioner is distilled water in a fairly pure form!
<p>I may be beating a dead horse as I have not made much effort to read, well, any of the comments. That being said, what is the likelyhood that in 2000 years, nobody managed to place 1 each ferrous and&nbsp; non-ferrous metal into a jar of wine which had returned to mother. (I.E.&nbsp; a pretty strong Acetic acid.) I'm sure, considering they were made in large jars it was a pretty stout jolt.</p> <p>Pure speculation.</p>
I just discovered this "ible" and it's one of the nicest i've been through. True, you could separate the DIY part from the background, but it would be much less interesting without it. I would like to add my voice to those who regret the poor treatment that experimental science receives today. I also feel that history of science is a great part of teaching science itself. The way the elders saw the world, how this vision evolved and what they achieved with very little more than their brain is very refreshing. It also helps kids to grasp our modern concepts. Thanks again.
oh no i made a fast charger for my flat cell battery i made (it was steel plates separated by kitchen towel soaked in mr muscle and the 10minute charger worked about 7 times successfully but then on the 8th charge it was charging wile i was on instructables trying to get the joule thief working and i heard a strange sound and saw steam! my battery dried and overheated and it melted as you can see. i dismantled it to see what happened.
there is an instructable on how to make these is is under science and called "how to make your own rechargeable battery"
will it make the battery more or less powerful if i use electrolyte with a little bit of copper dissolved in it.
What do you think of the idea that these were used as an ancient form of electrical blood purification. 50-100mA of current put through the blod stream is said to nuetralize all the viruses, bacteria, and perisites within the blood. 2 hours a day for 21 days. With a said body resistance of 2000Ohms I think that was the real purpose for these.
Hi, sorry it's taken me so long to the more recent comments, I've been busy with several other projects. strmrnnr, that does seem like an interesting potential application >50-100mA of current put through the blod stream is said to nuetralize all the >viruses, bacteria, and perisites within the blood Do you have any references for this statement that you could point me too?
Google-up material and research by a Dr. Bob Beck. He is a physicist that dedicated the last part of his life bringing the phenomena to light. He claimed that the Einstein School of Medicine rediscovered the fact in 1990, but surpressed it in exchange for drug company funding.<br/><br/>He found out about it and went public. his videos on YouTube are very interesting. &quot;Cure for Aids and HIV.&quot; He gives all the plans for his patents also if you can find them. He sold nothing - gave it all for free to help the sick that had brains enough to listen.<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkCHrV6cCfw">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkCHrV6cCfw</a><br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/8088835/The-Bob-Beck-Protocol-Electrotherapy">http://www.scribd.com/doc/8088835/The-Bob-Beck-Protocol-Electrotherapy</a><br/><br/>I have a persoal experience that happened when I started to use an electronic message unit. This was 15 years ago. I thought it was a miricle, then I found this material last Fall. I was a little bummed at that, but I am a believer. The miricle was a nice thought though - miss that.<br/>
If the amperage got too high, you might purify the body, but stop the heart at the same time.
No heart pacers allowed! I am also finding that the current should be pulsing. A steady DC, is said to cause the blood to electro plate to the arteries in the area of contact. Would be good for an area of an arm rest that you did not rest a lot. May be the wrist support for your keyboard, wear the wrist is always moving a little.
Ok, so my little brother just made this for his science project and it WORKED! He didn't use it to light a bulb but to show the voltage and blew all of the other kids projects out of the water. He was able to understand the instructions and find the supply's at a hardware with just minimal help from the associate and parents. His pride of accomplishment was amazing! For a child that hated any type of school work period, he has certainly re-thought learning! Hopefully this will encourage him to actually do his work in all of his subjects. Thank you!
I'm very happy to hear your brother was able to make this for his science fair project - that made my day, and was the reason I posted this. If he has someone available to him that can properly supervise, he should try forging the iron to create the Fe3O4 layer. When I get some time I plan to rewrite the project to include this step as the preferred option. If there are any blacksmiths or <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farrier">farriers</a> near you, I'm sure you could find one that would be happy to help you with this step for free, if you explain the purpose and history of what you are attempting. Iron work has a <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Age">rich legacy</a> spanning to the 12th century BC, and many of the people working in this trade today maintain a strong interest in the historical context that their craft developed from.<br/>
what would happen if you filled a 15mm pipe 45mm long sealed at bottom with vinegar and put a steel,aluminum rod through the middle. i have made a very small (35x30x7mm)steel plate battery and charged it several times (it was 4cells in one pack)with different polarity each time and the voltage/current increased. charged with 30v 400ma for 10min. the next day it seemed to hold even more power until the tissue separating the plates (soaked with Mr muscle)dried out.
Would this be a dry cell, or a wet cell? Dry, I would think.
I assumed it was wet, since it contained an electrolytic "liquid." Can somone clarify? -PKT
That's what I think, looking back.
im pretty sure you will make several times more power if you use zinc instead of iron.
It probably would. What occurs to me is that an Iron bar would be far more common than one of Zinc.
This technology was also presented and discussed on [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_(season_3)#Baghdad_Battery Mythbusters] several years ago (episode #29, 2005).<br/>
I'm starting to think nobody watches them anymore, only claims to...

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Bio: http://www.scipod.org/ I enjoy, in no particular order: robotics an electronics, medicine, food an agriculture, composite building designs with non linear geometry (domes ...
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