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Can I use steel wool as a filament for a homemade lightbulb? Answered

I want to use steel wool as a filament for a homemade light bulb.  I would like it to just glow, like a soft red or orange.  Is there a reason why this wouldn't work?  I know tungsten is ideal for a filament but at a lower temperature I can't think of a reason why steel filament shouldn't be alright.  I figure I should pass it by the all knowing Internet first though.  Oh by the way, the steel wool would be enclosed in a vaccuum or in a container filled with inert gas.  I would use this Instructable as a base for my project  https://www.instructables.com/id/Hanging-Bottle-Light-Bulb/  .  Thanks for your help.



Best Answer 7 years ago

Yes and No.

You could but it won't last long you can never get rid of ALL the O2 and with even a little steel will be very reactive .

It's worth looking up the history and construction of the light bulb - There were many experiments to develop a long lasting material for the filament.

Carbon thread and Tungsten are the 2 most successful.


Answer 7 years ago

Thank you Frollard; that was very interesting .
I think I'll check some more of his clips.


4 years ago

Great Video below! Watch that first!

While not a science expert I have used Steel Wool to illustrate a filament in the classroom. A thin strand between two nails and a battery source (9 volts works well) will light up.

1) make sure there is nothing added to the still wool. The steel wool scrubbing pads add soaps and other products that reduce the conductivity.

2) Understand that steel wool burns. After a steel wool "filament" lights up, it often catches fire and breaks in half. It keeps producing light even after the circuit is broken which may undermine the concept of a filament's role in the light circuit.

Nickel Cadmium wire (Ni-Cad) works better by producing a longer (although still brief) glow and not igniting like steel wool.