How to make electricity with saltwater

Written by dan taylor
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How to make electricity with saltwater
Ordinary table salt conducts electricity very well when dissolved. (salt image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from

You can make an electrical circuit using ordinary saltwater. It works because water pulls the sodium and chlorine ions of salt apart, allowing you to harness their electrical charges. Making a saltwater electrical circuit can be a great science fair project for a student, or just an entertaining way to get kids interested in science at home. You can make your own saltwater circuit by gathering together just a few household items.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Cup or beaker
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Masking tape
  • Insulated copper wire
  • 9-volt battery
  • Miniature low-voltage light bulb
  • Aluminium foil
  • Popsicle stick or tongue depressor
  • Pair of wire strippers
  • Scissors

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  1. 1

    Wrap the two Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors in aluminium foil, which will act as the electrodes.

  2. 2

    Cut three six-inch pieces of copper wire with the scissors and then use the wire strippers to strip a half-inch of insulation off each of the ends.

  3. 3

    Connect one of the wire ends to the positive terminal of the 9-volt battery, holding it in place with masking tape. Connect the other end of the wire to the light bulb socket by wrapping it around the bottom of the bulb, and secure with tape if necessary.

  4. 4

    Take another wire and connect it to the light bulb, and then tape the other end to the top of one of the electrodes.

  5. 5

    Take the last piece of wire and connect it to the negative terminal of the battery and to the top of the other electrode to complete your circuit.

  6. 6

    Pour a cup of water into a beaker. Stir in a teaspoon of salt until dissolved.

  7. 7

    Put the electrodes in the salt water, and don't allow them to touch. The light bulb will light up.

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