Sitting around a campfire is one of the most iconic activities that accompany camping. Aside from providing you with a source of heat and a way to cook your food, campfires also create the atmosphere that so many people look forward to when they go camping.
Most people start their campfires using a match or a lighter, however this can be difficult, especially when it is windy outside and your flame keeps going out before it can even reach the kindling. However, there is a natural way that you can use electricity to efficiently start your campfire using just a lemon and some metal.
Lemon Battery Fire-Starter
What You Will Need:
- 6 copper clips
- 6 zinc nails
- Roll of wire
- Steel wool
- Dry tinder (toilet paper works well)
- Start off by rubbing the lemon in between your palms in order to soften it up, or “tenderize” it.
- Once it is soft, stick each copper clip down one side of the lemon in a straight line, each of them approximately one centimeter apart from each other.
- Make a similar line using the zinc nails that is perpendicular to the first line, allowing about two centimeters of space between the two lines. Make sure each zinc nail and copper clip are across from each other.
- Using about three centimeters of wire, wrap one end of it around the top of the first copper clip and the other end around the second zinc nail. Then connect the second copper clip to the third zinc nail, and so on. You should be left with an unconnected copper clip on one side and an unconnected zinc nail on the opposite side.
- Now, using rubber coated electrical wire with bare ends, connect the wire to the only unconnected copper clip and connect another wire to the only unconnected zinc nail. The zinc nail will be the “minus” charge and the copper clip will be the “plus” charge.
- Place your steel wool either near the base of your campfire or on a piece of bark. Place flammable dry tinder on top of the steel wool, toilet paper or paper towel works best.
- Place both bare ends of each wire on the steel wool. This should cause the steel wool to start glowing red and producing heat, keep holding the wire to the steel wool until the dry tinder catches fire.
How Does It Work?
An electricity-producing fruit may seem like magic, and technically it still is, as it is not the lemon itself that produces this electricity. The scientific explanation for this feat focuses more on the metals that are used with the lemon.
To start off, first I’ll explain how an average battery works. Every battery has two ends, a positive end and a negative end. If both of these ends are connected with a wire, a circuit is created. Electrons flow through this wire, which creates electricity. This is caused by a chemical reaction that occurs inside the battery, however this reaction only occurs if there is a flow of electrons. This is where the lemon comes in.
In the demonstration explained above, the zinc nail acts as the negative end of the battery while the copper clip acts as the positive end. Since copper attracts more electrons than zinc, copper becomes the positive charge. The lemon provides an environment of conductivity which allows the electrons to flow continuously through the wires, providing a constant current of electricity. The zinc nails and copper clips placed in between these two ends increases the flow of electrons.
Try this experiment out at home before you rely on it for your campfire, just so you can get a feel for it. Let us know if this worked for you!