Wine Bottle Capacitors




Making a capacitor out of a wine bottle.

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Step 1: Materials

What you will need to make the capacitor:

Empty Wine or Beer Bottle
Boiling Water
Scotch Tape
Clear Nail Polish
Mixing Cup
Goo-Gone (optional it make cleaning the bottles easier)
Wooden BBQ sticks
Vegetable Oil

Step 2: Cleaning the Bottles.

You need to remove all of the papers and stickers from the outside of the bottle and clean out the inside. The best way to do this is to scrape it off with a knife and then clean the goo off with goo-gone. Make sure that the inside is free of anything other than water. Then make sure that the outsides are completely dry.

Step 3: Wrapping the Bottle

Cut a piece of tinfoil that is long enough to wrap all the way around the bottle, and is wide enough so that it goes about 3/4 of the way up of the base of the bottle, not the neck. I found that it is easiest to lay the tinfoil flat and set the bottle across it, then one end of the tinfoil you tape to the side of the bottle. As you roll it paint on the clear nail polish, this will act as a glue and will keep the bottle and the tinfoil in contact. After you have wrapped it all the way around use the tape to hold the end on the bottle. Now you need to wrap the bottom of the bottle. If you cut a square piece of tinfoil you can press the tinfoil into the pit at the bottom of the bottle. Once you have a form of the bottom of the bottle, paint the entire bottom with the nail polish and press the formed tinfoil in to it. Let the nail polish dry for the time specified on the bottle.

Step 4: The Salt Water

The inside of the bottle needs to be filled with salt water up to the top of where your tinfoil ends. What I did was boiled water in a teapot and then poured it in to my measuring cup (I used about 6 cups by the way to fill 2 wine bottles and 1 beer bottle). Once the boiling water is in the measuring cup pour enough salt to make it a 1 to 12 ratio of salt to water. Meaning if you have 6 cups of water you will need about 1/2 a cup of salt. Once you have your salt poured in use your BBQ stick to stir the water until it turns clear again. Now you have to wait until your water is cool, it took mine about an hour but you could speed it up by putting it in the fridge.

Step 5: Filling the Bottles

Once your water has cooled and you have finished wrapping your bottles in tinfoil, you will need to put the water in the bottles. If you want you can get a funnel to pour the water in or you can make a mess like I did and do it free hand. Fill the bottle up to the top of the tinfoil. If you fill it up any more there will be accidental discharges into the air and the capacitor won't work. After the water is in you need to pour your vegetable oil on top of the water. You should fill it up to about the base of the neck. After you have finished filling it with the liquids, you will need to seal the top of the bottle so that if it tips over it won't make too big of a mess. An optional step you can take is to put syran wrap over the putty just in case...

Step 6: Finishing the Cap

After you have finished building the capacitor, to use it, one wire sticks down through the putty and into the salt water. This is the + terminal. The tinfoil on the outside is the - terminal. You can use a bunch of these in series or parallel to ramp up the volts. Be safe and have fun!

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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Anyone try mixing some polyvinyl alcohol, borax and glycerol with finly powdered graphite, rochelle salt and molybdenum oxide to make a super capacitor core with foil for the metal plates and try to charge the thing up?


    5 years ago

    How many F is this approximately if you charge it with about 500,000 V?


    This is historically a Leiden jar, the predecessor of modern electrolythic capacitors.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    hook up a battery to the terminals. flash circuits from disposable cameras are my personal favorite HV supply. they take AA's and they're free from any drug store. if you just touch the terminals to a 9v you'll store 9v at "about 1nF" (The 4th Doctor). so that's 1/2000000*9^2 joules. (using joules=1/2 of the capacitance times the square of the voltage)


    i got about 1nF with one of these which isent too shabby stood my dual flybacks at 50KV and works well in my tesla coil does polarity really make any difference? thanks for the idea

    1 reply
    Slick36The 4th Doctor

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Polarity doesnt really matter, and i use them for my tesla coil too. thanks for measuring the farads because i was just guessing with a capacitor calcutator that came with a program i have...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I preferred to use champagne bottles on my Tesla Coils - They are much stronger than plain old wine bottles. Other than that I used pretty much the same construction techniques. I was hitting them with 20,000 volts from a bank of neon transformers (in series) and had no problem, though there were some interesting coronal effects on the surface of the oil. I used plain ordinary engine oil, and heavily salted saturated a solution that there was a salt precipitate on the bottom of the bottles. I had something like 30 bottles all linked together, and I stored and operated them in standard plastic bottle crates. All the inter-bottle links were made with short wires with crocodile clips on the ends. I used stainless steel rods inside the bottles, projecting from the tops, and clipped the jumper leads onto the tops of the rods.

    craig c

    10 years ago on Introduction

    hey, I'm obviously not an expert on this hence the possibly silly question, but the foil round the outside is creased alot, wouldn't that give the charge places to discharge the whole thing? but it cools real cool, thanks, might try making one myself =D

    1 reply
    Slick36craig c

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    i have found that it really doesnt matter as long as the top of the foil and the top of the bottle are separated. I just started building a tesla coil and i used 14 of these so far but i am gonna try to get like 20-30... BTW im 13 so its really not that hard and if you like HV check out my other instructable Kirlian Photography!