Picture of Generating Hydrogen... without Batteries
Generate hydrogen quickly and easily without those costly 6V batteries! Using H20 Electrolysis, generate hydrogen (and chlorine gas) with only water! The setup will take only 5 to 10 minutes, and can be safely left running overnight. Generate bottles of hydrogen with ease!

This Instructable is not only my first... it is also for the Science Fair contest.


Step 1: The Parts

Picture of The Parts
You only need four things:

  • A wall transformer ($4.77), which is available here on Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/12V5-Surveillance-Camera-Power-Supply/dp/B0007R4O12/ref=sr_1_9/103-7672438-6241403?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1188382227&sr=8-9 12 Volt Transformer]


  • Salt... optional

You can complete this project for as little as $4.77 or as much as $29.87.
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perlpower8 years ago
O and chlorine is NOT the same as oxygen, it is toxic and does not help explosions, DO NOT BREATHE IN CHLORINE!!!!! it WILL fill your lungs and starve you of oxygen. The good thing about it is that it is heavier than air so this is hard to do.
VIRON perlpower8 years ago
Mixed Hydrogen and Chlorine will spontaneously explode without ignition. Breatheing chlorine or hydrogen chloride will surely cause a life threatening trouble breatheing and instant loss of consciousness. Carelessness almost absolutely guarantees that this will happen. How about using baking soda instead of salt? Using copper wire is OK, it may turn the saltwater green by making copper chloride. The positive wire just dissolves slowly. You can protect the transformer from shorting wires with a 1 amp fuse, or a cheaper small 10 ohm resistor (brown black black). If you do short it, then the fuse or resistor burns up instead.
icinnamon (author)  VIRON8 years ago
When you say spontaneously explode, do you mean it can happen at any moment? I thought you needed a match...
VIRON icinnamon8 years ago
H and O needs a match. H and CL just goes boom whenever it feels like it.
icinnamon (author)  VIRON8 years ago
Hmmm.... I just tried setting off both with a flame and nothing happened...
Hydrogen and Chlorine don't spontaneously react, they need a near UV photon to initiate under otherwise presumably safe conditions at STP.. Its pretty dang close to spontaneous though in practise, in all cases, you should separate the gasses whatever they be if you're dealing with much more than test-tube fulls.. BTW, the chemistry outlined isn't exactly correct.. Its a redox reaction, not an acid base thing..
if it needs near uv wouldn't sunlight or most other household lights do this
icinnamon (author)  VIRON8 years ago
As with all projects of this nature, it can be dangerous. Common sense can be the best protective action... My water turned green, but that doesn't really matter
Nobody said that it was the same as oxygen.
the author did.
Oh? When?
he said "chlorine, (which is basically oxygen)" or something like that
sorry, he said "you can also try to capture chlorine gas bubbles (basically oxygen)"
In the event of this happening shouldnt you stand on your head and exhale alot so the chlorine sinks back down your throat? Just a theory...
rickharris8 years ago
Err Chlorine isnt basically O2 - It is toxic, an irritant and not a good thing - In the 1st war they used it as an anti personnel gas. Thats why most web instructions for doing electrolysis specifically exclude salt. try to fing something better or you may gas everyone at the fair.
icinnamon (author)  rickharris8 years ago
lol. I mostly used salt to improve conductivity. Also, I am not capturing the chlorine... just the hydrogen.
I realise why you use the salt BUT not capturing the chlorine means you allow it to escape - It's not good in the air around you or your fellow students. Have a try to find a more suitable alternative and write up why in your science fair project for more credit.
The chlorine is produced in such a low quantity that it isn't dangerous
icinnamon (author)  rickharris8 years ago
jconrad665 years ago
Why not just mix a solution of HCl with sodium in a flask, Your byproducts would be NaCl (aq){salt water} and free H2 Gas.  If you wear an apron thick rubber gloves and face shield it is a relatively safe process. 
Sodium is expensive, but you could use aluminum instead. The main problem is you don't get the oxygen with the hydrogen.
spider874 years ago
So, anyone had this problem:

I was using a 12v 1a DC charger. The wire was producing bubbles but not fast enough for me so i stripped some copper wire and made coils out of it to give it more surface area and then soldered the coils to the current cables. I built a 3 tier system top of bucket->bottom of bottle1; mid of bottle 1->bottom of bottle 2. Filled the bucket 3/4 of the way up with water, bottle1 was half way (just below the mid hose) with water and bottle2 was 1/8th full of water (just enough to require pressure for the oxygen to come out)... I did this so bottle1 would fill with hydrogen while the heavier air got pushed out of bottle1 by the pressure and into bottle2 to be released.

Well, I came back an an hour later and the water had turned blue and foamy... Anyone have any thoughts on why? (We have softened water so maybe that's part of it?)
Jaycub spider874 years ago
It's the copper. You can't use copper electrodes, go for stainless steel if you can or if you are super rich you could buy platinum plated electrodes. The cathode (negative wire) can be a cheaper material like mild steel or stainless steel. Also you should use sodium hydroxide (lye, sold as drain cleaner under the Rooto brand) or potassium hydroxide.That way only hydrogen and oxygen are produced.
batman965 years ago
 use stainless steel electrodes 
weasel5i26 years ago
Try using gold plated electrodes, I've found that they still corrode but they seem to last longer than anything else I've tried. Also, if you add salt to the water, you won't get any oxygen. The chloride ions will replace the oxygen ions at the anode, and you'll end up releasing chlorine gas instead! ALso, I discovered that the released chlorine is even MORE corrosive to the electrodes. I ended up with bluish-green copper chloride caked on the electrodes when the salt water leaked in and ate the wiring. They say sodium bicarbonate is better to use.
A few months (well several) late, but I have found that using the graphite rods from 6 Volt "Heavy Duty" batteries wrapped at the base with 14 gauge (house) wiring (with the insulation left on except for the ends) works best.  I then used a mini muffin pan and potted both electrodes (at their bases) with household wax.  This has allowed only the graphite to be exposed to the acid solution - no visible corrosion at this point on either electrode.
It is also fact that platinum works best. That is why many people will use platinum wire to make a double helix electrolizer.
You said that it was a single "molecule of hydrogen," but all elements are atoms, unless bonded. A molecule is a covalently bonded group of atoms.
Berkin6 years ago
You don't absolutely have to use a 12-volt transformer. You can use anything higher then that.
you can use any sort of transformer , the higher the voltage and amperage, the faster hydrogen in made. But be careful, high amperage is fatal
I am pretty educated on the dangers of high voltage and current. Thanks though!
dagenius Berkin6 years ago
I think he means that the hydrogen will ignite.
Berkin dagenius6 years ago
No, he's referring to electrocution.
i use a 9 volt transformer for my setup and it works great. very quick
Dr_Stupid7 years ago
fix this section, pictures are too blurry for any reliable reproduction.
Well maybe he would have replied to you by now if you had given him advise on how to fix whatever section you are talking about, and how he could make the pictures sharper.
Mercurio7 years ago
I have a question. How many amps do you need for electrolysis to happen? How many volts? P.S. : what I mean is what's the least amount of amps and volts needed.
1-3 volts is idea, and as many amps as the water will pull is best, having upwards of 50 or so will work for even the best setups.
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