Homemade Battery - Why does it work?

Thread Starter


Joined Mar 1, 2010
Hello Folks,

My son wanted to make some sort of homemade battery for a 7th grade science project. Being a CS major, I didn't have any chemistry or elecrical background, but was excited to work with him on it.

As part of our research, I read an article on this site about electron flow through metals. Our battery is a simple plastic ice tray with alternating plates of zinc ( galvanized steel ) and copper plates in each cube cell. We filled the tray with various liquids such as salt water and even an energy drink.

The battery puts out about 8 volts at around 2 mAmps. It can light a small led, etc.

My question here is what is WEARING OUT if you will as this battery produces electricity? I'd like to understand the physics in play here and what if any practical applications a battery like this would have.


P.S. I've attached a picture of the battery and some of the test results.



Joined Feb 27, 2010
i think a chemical reaction is taking place... the electrons from one metal are leaving through the liquid solution and combining with the other metal... which is why you get a voltage and also why the metal in the strips will wear out eventually.... right?


Joined Aug 30, 2007
Here's a video some of my students made:
You wouldn't know it by listening, but the narator is a mountian boy doing his best Aussie accent. The battery cell in series with a few others managed to keep an led lit for 2 weeks 24/7. They used vinegar, Sundrop, lemon juice.