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Q & A: Lemon Batteries

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Recently I tried an experiment to get electricity from a lemon. My Dad and I tried and tried but we couldnt get it to work. My question is am I doing this experiment right or not? Im using a lemon and squishing it to make it juicy. Then we cut the lemon in half. We then take one copper wire and one steel wire and push them into the lemon. After that we hook the wires to a light bulb and see if it will light. No good. My dad got a bulb from the garage that was 12 volts and again no good. We tried and tried but had no luck. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks
- justin (age 8)
central CT, US
A:
Justin -

It looks like you and your dad have pretty much the right idea. But it sounds like you're trying to light up a light bulb that's way too big. A lemon battery hardly puts out any power at all.

One thing you can do if you want to see if your battery works is to put the wires on your tongue. It sounds weird, but you'll feel a tingle - it's safe because the lemon hardly has any current at all - only about 1 milliamp. (Current and voltage are different for electricity - a high voltage won't hurt you, but a big current will.)

The other thing you can do is to try making a stronger battery by using more than one lemon battery together. If you use two lemon batteries together, you should be able to run an inexpensive digital watch. (These need about 1.5 volts, but not much current.)

If that still doesn't work, you can try using a zinc wire instead of steel. (You should be able to find zinc wire at your local hardware store.) The only other thing is that you don't need to cut the lemon in half. It should still work even if you do cut it, but you don't have to.

Hope this helps.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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