Water and Salt Welder

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About: DIYer and enthusiast of everything. I have been tinkering with a variety of things since my childhood, from simple electronics to workshop and audiovisual.
Hello fellow 'iblers! Today i'm going to teach you, how to build a Welder with plain Water and Salt, yes you did read it right! WATER AND SALT! And there is even Historical reference to this kind of welder.
Check out the Video:
Despite from the Video name, I'm not Mexican and I don't speak Spanish!

Step 1: High Amperage! Careful Is Just the Beginning!

This project uses High Amperage and High Voltage and it's mostly lethal if not handed carefully, allways wear gloves and shoes, don't operate exposed parts or not securely insulated components, If you need to change the positions of the cables inside the water, unplug it first. Use all the recommended welding equipment when working on this project incluing: Welding Glasses or Mask, Leather Gloves, Leather clothes and an insulated surface. Don't forget to be dry (always dry your hands if you change anything on the water).

Step 2: Materials

Materials:
10m of AWG #7 (10mm) wire
20L of water
1Kg of salt
Electrode pliers
Earth clamp
6013 or 6011 Welding rods
Tools:
Wire Cutter
Screw driver

McGayver Version:
Materials
10m of AWG #5 - #7
20L of water
1Kg of salt
2 Insulated Pliers
6013 Welding rods
Tools:
Knife

Step 3: Cut the Wires

OK, first we are going to need 3 pieces of wire, take the 10m piece and cut it in half, next take one of these half's and cut in half again.

Now we got 3 pieces of wire:
1 5m piece
2 2,5m piece

Take the 5m piece, scrape about 1,5cm on each side of the cable, it will be used as the ground wire.
Take the 2,5m cable and scrape 1,5cm on one end and 20cm on the other end, these will be our positive wire.

Step 4: Install the Contacts

Now Install the Electrodes holder on the 1,5cm end of the 2,5m cable, and the earth clamp on one of the 1,5cm end of the 5m cable.

Step 5: All Goes in the Water!

Fill the 20l gallon with around 15l of water, put the 20cm end of the 2,5m cables in the water and put something on the bottom to hold them submerged and straight. Pour around 500g to 800g of salt on the water.

The salty water will work as a variable resistor, powering the AMPs up based on Electrolysis.

Step 6: Plug and Arc

To turn the power on, Attach the 5m cable on the neutral line of your wall plug and the 2,5cm cable on the Positive line, DON'T PUT THEM AS YOU WISH, YOU MUST KNOW WHICH ONE IS THE HOT WIRE AND WHICH ONE IS THE GROUND WIRE. Put the 6013 electrode on the electrodes holder and try striking an arc, if the amps are too low, put the two cables nearer inside the water, if the amps are too high, space them from one another. DON'T FORGET TO UNPLUG THE WIRES BEFORE ADJUSTING THE CABLES.

Step 7: Why It Works?

OK, let's go to the Science of the thing!

Take a look at the table (fig. 1), as you see, water is very resistant, so plain water will not allow any current being draw, the objective here is to lower the resistance of water until you can draw current from it, and as you see, from the gaps between the wires, it varies on cm, so as much as you take them apart, more resistance is added, if you put them together less resistance is added.

So, the variables we are working with here are V (Voltage), I (Current), R (Resistance in Ohms) and D (Distance in cm).

To measure I (Current), to find out how much amps we are drawing, we gonna divide V (Voltage) to R (Resistance in Ohms), just like this:

I=V/R

We know the value of V that is begin used, in this case 110v, but the value of R is based on distance and salinity, so we can define Rd, which is equal to Rs (Resistance from the salinity table (fig.1)) times D (distance in cm).

We end up with something like this:

I=V/Rd

which:

Rd=Rs.D

If we substitute for the values we know for, say as salty as sea water in open sea 10cm apart, we will end up with something like this:

I=110/Rd

Which:

Rd=20*10

Then:

I=110/200

That ends up like:

I=0,5

So, for this situation we can draw 0,5 amps from this circuit. Following this same formula for 1cm apart, we end up with a maximum theoretical value of 5,5 amps. If the voltage used was 220v, then we end up with a maximum draw of 11 amps.

My setup tripped the breakers twice during the development of this project, and my breakers are rated for 10 amps, so my water was overly saturated with salt plus the fact that the wires where submerged to the bottom of the solution, which is denser and saltier. We can even say that the resistance varied based on depth and end up with a gradient of resistance that sums up to a average resistance, plus the resistance of the wires themselves.

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    24 Discussions

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    Louisf1

    10 months ago

    Why would my salt water welder keep on tripping the main switch in the house power supply? I have 230V at 20 AMPS.

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    komputronika

    1 year ago

    How many current drawn from AC main?
    I want to try at home. Yes i know the risk and will be careful.

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    AsadurZ

    1 year ago

    Please give video tutorial in bangla

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    Karen AudreyT

    3 years ago

    The salt water ballast resistor cuts voltage at a greater rate than current, when you have it adjusted properly your arc voltage will be about 24 volts and your current will be about 70% of whatever your mains current is, which is usually approx 100 amps (100x0.7=70amps), which is perfect for a smaller diameter 6011 or 6013 rod (In the USA).

    The wider plug on the left SHOULD be the neutral, but check with a multitester with one lead to a known ground. Neutral will show no voltage while hot will show 117/120 volts, otherwise you will be playing with full voltage and current, and possibly kill yourself.

    You can make a handy lighter with a pencil lead some paperclips and a cup of salt water using the same principals (start with LESS salt and adjust pH upwards (add salt) until the pencil lead glows red hot after 2-3 seconds.

    However, a much better plan is two car batteries run in series and a 1/8" rod. DC totally beats AC for stick welding except when you are dealing with really dirty/oily surfaces and using a 6011 rod (cleans 60 times a second), but grind and clean with solvent and use DC and your welds/beads will be sooooo much nicer, and you can choose whether you use electrode neg or pos depending on what you are trying to do.

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    jeevankiruba

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Dear sir,

    I have try this welding method in our college for project.But not able to success. Arc was produced but electrode was not melting so welding is failure. kindly help me to success this project. which type of material is used to submerged in the saltwater.please give the full details.(inside the bucket)

    jaiamjai@yahoo.com

    Thankyou

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    meritsetgo

    6 years ago on Introduction

    in the old days of theater they used a bucket of water and salt with a large triangle shaped piece of copper as a dimmer switch to control the intensity of the lights during a performance, the more the triangle was immersed in the water the more voltage would go to the lights, if just the tip was inserted into the water then less voltage would run and the lights would get quite low....

    now fast forward to this century, the same principle is used in third world countries by welders, the have a pole with a length of wire that they hook up to any overhead power line running above and the other end goes into the bucket, then a second length goes straight into the clamp that is holding the piece to be welded, the arc is created when a third length of wire is inserted into the bucket and "dry end" of that wire with the electrode is brought to the piece to start the welding process, needless to say, they are a) stealing power from the power company b) they are playing with death!

    1 reply
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    Misac-kunmeritsetgo

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, in some countries they do steal energy from the company, but I don't understand why everybody freak out when water and eletrical energy are in the same device. If you know that you must not play with it but work with it safely, there is no reason to fear.

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    maintann

    6 years ago on Step 7

    Very neat but I think your using the word inverter is incorrect. You're using the salt water as a variable resistance or ballast to control the amperage. An inverter actually works by taking the input power supply, converting it to DC & using this to make AC with a varying frequency/voltage

    1 reply
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    omnibot

    6 years ago on Introduction

    DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
    Your electrodes are at line voltage, high voltage 110/230v AC. This WILL KILL YOU!
    From the socket one wire is for all practical reasons grounded and the other is the "hot" wire. Make sure you know which one. The "hot" wire goes into the saltwater which acts as a large resistor (low ohm/high watt) dropping the voltage in the circuit but not by much. If your electrode is "hot" then you WILL DIE.
    Only way to be less unsafe is to keep one hand off att all times (tie it behind your back). NEVER USE TWO HANDS when working with high voltage.
    Work only on an isolated surface like a dry rubber mat and whatever you do:
    DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

    1 reply
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    Misac-kunomnibot

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I made a warning on the first step (did you noticed? But if you think that it needs any modifications, feel free to say) and modified the wire connection step, but every kind of high voltage work could kill you if not handed carefuly. Even the normal stick welding.

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    VadimS

    6 years ago on Introduction

    A warning to those tempted to try this, the electrode will be at line voltage, try not to kill yourself.

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    rimar2000rimar2000

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I have two thermal switches of 15 Amps, and a solid state differential switch of 40 mV.

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    VadimSrimar2000

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You'd only be able to weld at 15 amps, not really use-full, anything less then 100 isn't worthwhile.
    It wouldn't trip the GFI (differential switch).

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    rimar2000VadimS

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    VadimS, you need 100 Amps, but not at 220 V. That matters is the power (Volts x Amps) , not the Amps or the Volts lonely.

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    VadimSrimar2000

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    What matters is the wattage at the arc. The arc is vary low resistance, so you need high current. In this system the water only acts as a resistor, not an inverter.
    So you get the amperage of the breaker or fuse.

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    Misac-kunrimar2000

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I did it here, and none of them jumped. but i recomend if you are going to build something more secure.