Step 5: Making a Larger Wet-Cell Battery

Here's another way to make the battery if you don't have access to zinc washers;

Pick out 10 pennies newer than 1982, and use 100-grit sandpaper to sand one face of the penny.  The entire inside of the penny is zinc, so sand the face until the whole surface exposes the zinc. 

Once again, cardboard needs to be cut and soaked in an electrolyte like vinegar, salt water, or lemon juice.  In this case, I didn't round the edges.  You can see the sharp corners, and that's ok as long as they don't touch.  If the cardboard pieces touch, that section of the battery will short out and decrease the performance of the unit as a whole.  

You can build your battery cells the same way you did with the washers, as long as the pennies are all facing the same direction.  With this method, the zinc top is the positive, and the copper bottom is negative.  

By connecting 10 cells in series (stacking them on top of each other), the electrical potential will jump to nearly 6 volts!  This should be more than enough voltage to drive an LED… or TWO?!?

You can get an LED to light up by pressing the long lead of the LED (positive) on the top, and the short lead of the LED (negative) on the aluminum foil base.  

LEGALITIES: Some people have asked about the legality of treating pennies in this manner.  The federal law states that there are exceptions made for use as "educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry, and similar purposes as long as the volumes treated and the nature of the treatment make it clear that such treatment is not intended as a means by which to profit solely from the value of the metal content of the coins." For more information, click here!


<p>Well, here in Canada the Royal Canadian Mint stopped producing pennies a couple of years ago. Now we can't build penny batteries.............</p><p>Nice science demo instructable.</p>
<p>Do you know if Canadian pennies would've worked for this? Cause I've still got a jar of them that I was wondering what to do with...</p>
<p>Canadian pennies work great!!</p>
<p>this is really cool I also really enjoyed your five ways to start a fire</p>
I wonder if I put together 3 parallel stacks of 6 pennies if I could use that as an emergency cell phone power source.
<p>a green LED works at as low as 2.1V, you'd need at least two of these in series, probably more around 3 to get the necessary 5V, also, that LED takes around 20mA, compared to a phone that should take much, much more. With enough batteries, it should be possible tho</p>
<p>Great Instructable! Love your channel too.</p><p>Had a question on the assembly. You say to start by placing aluminum foil on your worskspace. After you build your cell, do you wrap the foil around it and the nadd the tape? Or do you wrap it without the foil?</p><p>Thanks, and keep up the great work!</p>
<p>i doubt it, that would make a contact in between the top and bottom, which is actually a short, so all the power (as small as it is) will go through that instead of whatever you want to power</p>
<p>nice instructable. I have not seen any where a crediting of this device to it's discoverer. It is a Voltaic pile discovered / invented by Alessandro Volta in the 1880's.</p><p>Faraday did many experiments on it. He used salt water as the electrolyte.</p><p>more info <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaic_pile." rel="nofollow">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaic_pile.</a></p><p>I have been meaning to make one myself and this is great encouragment</p><p>uncle frogy</p>
<p>I'm from the Philippines and I would like to try this out as our Investigatory Project in Science, but so far I haven't made it work yet. Any advice? I use our copper coins, some cardboard and washers.. I'll give you full credit for the idea!</p>
Maybe you should look up basic physics to fully understand what's this is about. But in basic you need copper and zinc, your stack probably don't work because your washers don't have zinc on them.
<p>Either that, or your coins are actually copper. Since the early 80's, American 1&cent; pennies are 95% zinc.</p>
<p>wow,neat. Could you put this in a tube.....maybe a glass cigar tube and make it almost mobile. thanks again</p>
Awesome!!! Well done
<p>This will certainly be helpful :)</p>
I just tried this and does not work, I completed all the steps but nothing has happened...
<p>is there other stuff u can do withthe batteries like charhe a phone</p>
<p>is there other stuff u can do withthe batteries like charhe a phone</p>
<p>Hi King of Random. I loved the tutorial. Just a few questions, plz reply fast, as I need for my Science Fair.</p><p>1 We don't have pure copper coins here in India, so would it work if we keep cupro-nickel coins?</p><p>2 Suggest any alternatives that we can use other than a calc.</p><p>3 If we can't use cupro-nickel coins then can we use, copper wires?</p><p>Please reply fast. Thankyou</p>
I would have loved to do this, its just too bad they have gotten rid of the penny in Canada...
Yeah bummer. do you have anything else that's copper? It will work the same. Maybe some copper wire?
<p>Hello, </p><p>Ive done every step that was asked in the video and it still does not work. Please help. I have a 12VDC red led with 20mA if that is needed to answer my question. Help please!</p>
What kind of led is that? My LEDs won't light up brightly at all. Help.
At 20mA (estimate green LED usage), that means your battery has over 7 Amp-hours! That could charge up a smartphone several times. <br>
Actually I think he said 20 microamps or .02 MA. So more like .07 Amp-hours. So charging a smartphone... Maybe not.
Really? It's hard to believe. I'll have to give it a try sometime. :)
man u r so cool I love your you tube page
Just a thought here, but if you were to drill some small holes in the pennies. Would that possibly increase your voltage or amps given the extra surface area in the zinc to react? Just a thought... Love your projects!
This would be a neat party trick. <br> <br>you should be able to find pennies and cardboard almost anywhere, the LED might be the problem...
i just made this battery. i used washer (i think they are zinc) used 75% copper 25% zinc coin ( its Serbian 1 rsd coin same as 2 cents in america ) <br>it show from 4 coins,4 washers, 4 cardboard pieces, i got 3,9 V <br>i will make throwie with small red LED and i will follow how long can it last
because coins are copper my improvised battery last only 4-5 hours,.... tommorow i will try with only washers. and one with only coins <br>
great instructable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Is the led still lighted?
Great and educational project - saw the YouTube version. I am always happy to see that kids get involved with learning about science (comment below). <br> <br>Sheet copper is available commercially, so you don't have to use pennies. My friend is a sheet metal worker, he gave me scraps of .025&quot; pure copper sheet.
I did this with my eleven year old daughter last sunday and let her take it into school on Monday, after one freaked out phone call from the principals office and a lot little explanation (we live very close to Newtown CT) it was a smash hit her science class. Thank you. The only Problem is the science teacher wants to know what other tricks I have up my sleeve. P.S. I did give you full credit.
That's an awesome story! I love it, and thanks for the credit :D <br><br>Congratulations on your success with it!!
looks like you know your chemistry
I can do a few things but am always interested in learning more.
how many cells would you need to power a convenrtiona light bulb?
You mean like a 100 watt lightbulb? Way too many to be practical in the least.
anything containing zinc will work which happens to be the main active ingredient in deodorant, So the story goes, <br>One day after updating my battery banks I put some deodorant on &amp; by chance looked at the label seeing it contained zinc so I gave it a shot &amp; it worked since then I've found hundreds of combinations.
Very awesome! Your instructable deserves more views!
http://www.instructables.com/id/Speed-Stick-Power/ <br> <br>I made my first instructable based on the deodorant penny battery I made
You are awesome :) Where did you get the idea for using deodorant? That is such a great idea!
it is rechargeable i tried with a 4.5 solar cell and upgraded the amount of pennies and deodorant to match the 4.5v of the cell to avoid overcharging either a potentiometer or battery charge controller or even a resistor would work. I have been experimenting with different deodorants, zinc based ointments, among other things as well <br>evingoz was
I love where you're going with this! Where did you get the idea?<br><br>I feel like I have a million things going on right now, but I want to try this sometime for myself. I know you went over the basics, but what would you say are the basic step by step? I'm not familiar with vinegar paper.
This works for sure, if you want to add the cool factor use speed stick deodorant, pennies, vinegar paper, and tin foil. it takes about 10 pennies per led and works for 3 months running on the 1st <br> <br>(i believe any deodorant with zinc anything will work. The solid white kind works best in a clump on a penny. Nickels work too, 6 per volt
Interesting idea! With the suspended zinc particles, do you suppose the battery could be re-chargable?

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Bio: Random Weekend Projects
More by The King of Random:5 Ways to Start a Fire, Using Water  How to make a Batarang like "The Dark Knight" How to Make Ninja Stress Balls  
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