How can dirt or dust make a flashlight work? Making a flashlight work with dirt or dust may at first seem ridiculous. What sounds strangely like nonsense however, is in fact genuine, documented science that can be explained with just a few basic scientific principles and can be done in just a few steps. (The scientific explanation of what makes a flashlight work with dirt might make you wish you hadn't been sleeping or passing notes during your earth science class!)
Here's what you will need to try your own experiment in making a flashlight work with dirt:
- dirt, more correctly mud
- a small container, film canister or metal can
- a metal screw
- a coin
- LED light
- Begin by filling your container with mud. Regular, ordinary mud will do. Nothing special is needed here.
- Now stick the metal screw in the dirt. Easy, huh?
- Next, place a coin at the other end of the container. The screw and coin must not touch.
Stick one end of the wire in the can.
- Affix the other end of the wire to the back of your LED light. Do this until you achieve success.
People who have done this will swear by their own method of harnessing electricity from common, everyday soil. There are many variations on the above directions, as can be seen when doing a search on You Tube. Some experimenters use a vinegar/water solution as their electrolyte, which is simply a liquid with positively and negatively charged ions in it. You will always need two metals in your dirt-filled container, though. One serves as the cathode and the other the anode. In basic terms, the batteries that you have around the house are just a more sophisticated and powerful version of your crude, homemade battery.
Don't expect to power your refrigerator this way, however. The voltage released from your homemade battery will be just enough to power your tiny LED light. It also doesn't last very long. In fact, you may only witness a short burst of light.