Introduction: How to Make Hydrogen

Picture of How to Make Hydrogen
Hello I will start by saying that this is my first instructable and would value any input that may lead to improve this article.
I would also like to advise everyone to take safety precautions.

Throughout this article I will  show you how to create, store and use your hydrogen.The hydrogen you will be making utilizes the hydrogen producing reaction between NaOH (SodiumHydroxide) and Al (Aluminum) in the presence of water. I will not go into the chemistry here, however, if you wish, Google will hold the answers.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You will need the following materials to make, store and use hydrogen.
1. Drain Cleaning Crystals (Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH))
2. Aluminum Foil (1Meter or so will do)
3. A Beverage in a GLASS bottle
4. Balloons
5. Ignition source
6. Water

In total all this cost me less than $15 dollars Australian.

Step 2: Preperation Step 1

Picture of Preperation Step 1

Drink Beverage.

Step 3: Preperation Step 2 - 3

Picture of Preperation Step 2 - 3

Setting up the Reaction Chamber (filling the bottle)

1. Get yourself to a well ventilated area.
2. Get a bucket of water and grab some safety glasses if you wish.
3. Pour about two tablespoons of the Drain cleaner into the bottle depending
on the size of the bottle and strength of drain cleaner.
4.Get a reasonable length aluminum foil
5. Fold this foil into a long bar and force into bottle (don't worry if most of the foil is not touching the NaOH as it will eventually fall in. And If all the foil was at the bottom the reaction would be too vigorous )

Step 4: Starting the Reaction

Picture of Starting the Reaction
1. 1/3 fill the bottle with water
2. Watch the reaction go.
The reaction takes a while to start however, within seconds the water will be almost boiling(this is an extremely exothermic reaction).If the reaction gets too hot most of the gas released will be Steam(which is pretty much useless).In order to slow the reaction tip water on the sizes of the bottle or place the bottle in a water bath.On the other hand if the reaction is to slow you may need to make sure that you add more aluminum and NaOH next time.
I have also included a video of the reaction bubbling away for your interest.

Step 5: Collecting Your Hydrogen

Picture of Collecting Your Hydrogen
Ok to collect your hydrogen you need to immediately place a
balloon over the top of your bottle after pouring in the water.

If you do this right your balloon will be lighter than airhowever due to the steam produced in the vigorous reaction from the foil used you will get better results usingsolid aluminum.When your balloon looks full pull it off. '''WEAR GLOVES '''then tie it off and now you have your own mini Hindenburg(Watch out though blowing up this balloon should be done at a safe distance and is really loud).

Step 6: Ok Your Pretty Much Done

Picture of Ok Your Pretty Much Done
However, if you want more fun you can always put more reactants into the chamber (bottle) and light the top.Depending on the rate of reaction and the amount of steam produced you shouldhave a self sustaining hydrogen lantern.This lasts about 10 minutes maximum.


GAMEJOE (author)2016-12-17

How many minutes to wait until the balloon grows.

AppuN2 (author)2016-08-13

can i make hydrogen gas with ice (not a dry ice) , aluminium foil , salt

fwjs28 (author)2009-04-14

can't you do the same thing w/ electrolosys (sp?) and put a bottle over the area with the most bubbles (reasoning-more hydrogen, so more bubbles means more h)...or am i thinking of something else?

agent harmsy (author)fwjs282010-01-04

You can, but it takes a HELL of a lot longer...

chip123 (author)agent harmsy2010-08-21

Unless you use a very high current, ie. an arc welder. Then it goes pretty quick. If I remember correctly, that is :s

Cobalt59 (author)chip1232011-02-10

electrolysis is much easier. No running to the store and getting NaOH. All you need is electricity, water, baking soda/salt/other electrolyte, and a container to hold it all.

LuisG87 (author)Cobalt592015-11-21

This is how i used to heat up my food in jail.prision chemistry

finniano (author)fwjs282011-02-15

wouldnt there be oxygen mixed in so it wouldnt be pure?

FelipeB1 (author)2014-12-11

won't the NaOH corrode the glass bottle?

Kinnishian (author)FelipeB12015-02-27

Nope, it's glass. Glass is incredibly resistant to most chemicals.

treesap (author)Kinnishian2015-09-23

False. While glass is resistant to most chemicals, sodium hydroxide is indeed mildly corrosive to glass. It's fine for a project such as this; however, if storing lye long-term, or heating a sodium hydroxide solution, glass is probably not the best choice.

Kinnishian (author)treesap2015-09-23

you are totally correct :)

Suchitragd (author)2013-02-08

hydrogen produced can be used as a fuel for car( car based on hydrogen cell)???

Pyromaniac88 (author)Suchitragd2015-07-13

In theory, yes. But a reliable and efficient fuel cell has yet to be created.

what about using electrolysis or is this a more effective method.

dyoung39 (author)2013-01-16

You could also have the gas bubble through a bottle of ice water then a smaller empty bottle then through a glass pipe filled with dried Epsom salts at the end of this you get relatively cool hydrogen without any water vapor. If you do not know what a bubbler is google "bong" works the same way ie cooling a gas mixture.
You can use recycled aluminum cans and gallium in water if you do not want to use all that lye. You can even keep using the gallium as it just activates the aluminum

TrailblzrX (author)2012-12-01

Great Instructable! I've done this before, and placing the bottle in an ice water bath helped keep my balloons from melting. I was curious as to the purpose of the water added directly to the bottle. I'm aiming for pure hydrogen gas, so the added water vapor would make my balloons heavier than I am hoping for. Is there a point to the water I am missing?

steven07 (author)TrailblzrX2012-12-01

The water added directly to the bottle acts as a solvent for the NaOH.

Perhaps if you wait for the reaction to finish you the water will cool down condense and leave the balloon back into the bottle.

The ice bath sounds like a great idea, other ways which you can slow down the reaction and reduce the heat generated per unit time include using chunks of aluminium with a lower surface area.

steven07 (author)TrailblzrX2012-12-01

The water added directly to the bottle acts as a solvent for the NaOH.

Perhaps if you wait for the reaction to finish you the water will cool down condense and leave the balloon back into the bottle.

The ice bath sounds like a great idea, other ways which you can slow down the reaction and reduce the heat generated per unit time include using chunks of aluminium with a lower surface area.

petrolon (author)2012-11-02

Could I use hydrogen peroxide instead?

lfskx125 (author)2011-11-29

this hydrogen experiment is awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thecoonskin (author)2011-08-05

Just thought I'd let everyone whos doing this know, if you get an external burn from this use vinegar and water to clean it. This stuff burnt right through my chuck taylors and burnt my big toe. Also the hydrogen balloon blew up a little to close to my face, so you should also wear saftey goggles. Haven't had this much fun in awhile!

akshat.v.tiwari (author)2011-07-20

I love it .....and the idea of the lantern is fantabulous this would help in my chem projects......THNX!!!!!! :)

oeroeg (author)2011-01-18

tidak harus terdampar dulu jika anda bisa menggunakan / mengembangkannya akan didapatkan suatu energi yang besar

PsychedelicFish (author)2010-08-08

Does the reaction produce oxygen as well as hydrogen?

ToddisI (author)2010-08-08

Very good instructable!! The lantern seems like a good idea... if only the world new that if they were stranded on an island with drain cleaner, a glass bottle and some tin foil, they alsom have fire...

tennisbat (author)2010-06-30

I have done the experiment. It did work but not that much Hydrogen was produced. How should one improve?

eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-06-26

You could use vinegar and zinc.

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-05-27

Tell me that the sodium hydroxide corrodes away the oxide layer on the aluminum foil causing the aluminum to be reactive with water which is present in the solution which reacts with the Al to produce hydrogen! *catches breath* So am I right?

boomystuffisfun (author)2008-05-03

The easiest was is magnesium strips and dilute hydrochloric acid in an erlenmeyer flask, put the baloon or whatever you want to collect it in over the top of the erlenmeyer flask. Its a great way to get hydrogen ballons! (then u can add youre oxygen for an even bigger boom lol)

how diluted?

I believe the ideal fuel to oxygen ratio for ignition of hydrogen is 2:1. the same as in electrolysis of water.

harveyandbanjo (author)2007-06-30
here we have some more of these bombs hope u enjoy

wonder what would happen if you lit small fires areound that...

wat did u use for the last one? in part two

flymudpie (author)harveyandbanjo2008-07-04

This isn't to smart since that gas can make its way to your lungs causing dangerous complications. When you use fire the hydrogen is demolished.

zoombaga (author)2010-02-18

wait but i thought sodium hydroxide, when in a liquid form, broke glass because of the silicon or something like that...

Jaycub (author)zoombaga2010-03-05

If you get it really hot and melt it sodium hydroxide will dissolve glass, but in solution with water it won't.

book106 (author)2010-01-18


oldmanbeefjerky (author)2009-07-07

i have found out how to solve your heavy water vapour problem (yay) i did a test and found out that methylated spirits can substitute water , but i tested it out in a test tube and the reaction wasnt violent , but it was still effective. the problem is though i used 9parts meth and 1 part gasoline so eventualy the ballon melted and im not 2 sure wether it was the meth or the gasoline what i did find out though is that under the pressure the ballon was exerting the meth hardly evapourated. hope this helps . ice cube idea has been thwarted , har-dee-dar

ty weston (author)2008-03-04

can u use aluminum cans??if u cant y not ????

steven07 (author)ty weston2008-03-05

I don't believe you can as it would react with the NaOH thus destroying the can. However aluminum cans may have a protective coating, but i wouldn't see any point in using a possible reactant as a container

Derin (author)steven072009-05-30

well,put the can into an inert container and free reactant happens

bylerfamily (author)steven072009-01-18

They do have a protective coating.

damasta (author)steven072008-03-06

what if you cut a strip of an aluminum can and throw it in the bottle, will it react?

steven07 (author)damasta2008-03-06

yes it would

Jaycub (author)ty weston2009-02-11

Yes, you can.

ilias (author)2009-05-25

i will try it with hydrocloric acid (HCl)

oldmanbeefjerky (author)2009-05-17

i have a question also which of these chemicals is the catalyst in this experiment aka which doesnt deplete in the reaction , you could just add less of it to slow down the reaction as for your idea of removing steam from the hydrogen i have an idea all you need is some cotton and a hose/pipe / tube shove some cotton/cloth into tube/hose in several places but it must be upright or else plain water will just be pumped into the balloon BTW have you considerd hooking it onto a dismantled air compressor so you have a sucktion hose and liquifieng it inside the compressor? or using the hydrogen to make your voice ssqueaky coz it works hydrogen is the ligtest gas helium is the 2/3rd lightest

GalaxyX (author)2009-03-08

I did this in my g6 science fair experiment. although i used hydrochloric acid and put aluminum in it. this is not pure hydrogen though because it contains some oxygen in it too

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