How to Make Hydrogen

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Introduction: 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.
DANGEROUS THINGS ARE DANGEROUS you get it?

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

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
7. AND MOST OF ALL SAFETY EQUIPMENT

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

Step 2: Preperation Step 1

Drink Beverage.

Step 3: 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

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

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

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.

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129 Comments

Correction. It is the reaction between aluminium and water in the presence of an NaOH catalyst.

No, just hydrogen, aluminium oxide and heat. Aluminium oxide remains in the bottle, heat transforms the water into steam. Passing the gases (H2 and steam) through ice in a vertical pipe/tube condenses most of the steam (H2O gas) back to water (H2O liquid), so you should only get H2 (always gas in this temperature range).

How many minutes to wait until the balloon grows.

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

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?

5 replies

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

you are totally correct :)

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

1 reply

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

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

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?