How to create oxygen and hydrogen from water using electrolysis

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How to create oxygen and hydrogen from water using electrolysis
How to create oxygen and hydrogen from water using electrolysis
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The process of dividing water (H2O) in its atomic components (hydrogen and oxygen) through electricity is known as electrolysis. This is an experiment that has important implications regarding the uses that can be given to these two gases independently, hydrogen being one of the cleanest sources of energy that we can access. It might sound complicated, but it's actually easier than you think if you have the right equipment, the right knowledge, and a little bit of expertise.

Steps

Part 1 of 2: Set up the equipment

Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 1
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 1

Step 1. Fill a 12 fluid ounce (350 ml) glass with warm water

You don't need to fill it to the brim, so leave some room. Water will conduct electricity more effectively if it is warm, but it will also work well in cold water.

  • You can use tap or bottled water, it doesn't matter which one.
  • Warmer water has a lower viscosity, so electrically conducting ions can move more freely.
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 2
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 2

Step 2. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of table salt in the water

All you have to do is pour it in and then give it a little stir to help it dissolve. In this way, it becomes a saline solution.

  • Sodium chloride (table salt) is an electrolyte that is useful for the conductivity of water. This is because the water itself is not particularly conductive.
  • If you make the water more conductive, the current from the battery will flow more easily. This results in the water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen more efficiently.
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 3
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 3

Step 3. Sharpen both ends of two # 2 pencils so that the graphite is exposed

Be careful to remove the eraser on top of the pencil. The pencils need to be sharp enough so that the graphite is fully exposed at both ends.

  • The graphite rods inside the pen will make up the electrodes and conduct the electricity from the battery.
  • Graphite works very well, as it won't dissolve or be damaged by water as long as you run the experiment.
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 4
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 4

Step 4. Cut a square piece of cardboard large enough to cover the glass

The cardboard you use should be thick enough to maintain its structural integrity when drilling a few holes in it. You can try cutting a square piece out of a shoe box or other thick box.

  • The objective of the cardboard is to suspend the graphite of the pencil in the water without it being able to touch the walls of the glass.
  • The cardboard does not have metallic properties, so it is possible to place it on the top of the glass without affecting the result of the experiment.
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 5
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 5

Step 5. Punch two holes in the cardboard with the two pencils

This should be done with the two pencils themselves, as they need to fit snugly into the holes so they don't move or slide. The graphite will interrupt the experiment if it touches the walls or bottom of the glass.

Part 2 of 2: Conduct the Experiment

Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 6
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 6

Step 1. Connect one end of each alligator clip to the battery terminals

The battery is what actually generates the electric current. Therefore, the alligator clips are the way to carry the current into the water. It is necessary to attach one clamp to the positive terminal and one to the negative terminal.

  • You must use a 6 volt battery. However, if you can't get one, you can use a 9-volt one.
  • Batteries of this size can be found at almost any grocery store or supermarket.
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 7
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 7

Step 2. Attach the other end of each alligator clip to each pencil

Be careful that the metal part of the alligator clip is connected to the graphite of the pencil. You may need to sand a little more of the pencil wood just to make sure the alligator clips are fully connected to the graphite.

By doing so, the connection to the battery is completed and current can be transferred from the battery to the water

Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 8
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 8

Step 3. Place the cardboard over the glass so that the pencils are submerged

Due to the way you cut the cardboard before, it should fit well on top of the glass. You should try to do it gently so that you do not disturb the pencils that are going through the cardboard from their position.

For this experiment to work, it is necessary that the graphite in the pencils does not touch the side of the glass. So just go over it right now and adjust the pencils if necessary

Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 9
Make Oxygen and Hydrogen from Water Using Electrolysis Step 9

Step 4. Watch as the separation of hydrogen and oxygen occurs

At this point, bubbles will begin to rise from the submerged graphite tips, which constitute the splitting hydrogen and oxygen gases. Hydrogen will bubble from the pencil that is connected to the negative terminal and oxygen will bubble from the pencil that is connected to the positive terminal.

  • After connecting the alligator clips to the battery and the graphite, the current will start to flow immediately.
  • The pencil that produces hydrogen will generate more bubbles because each water molecule contains twice the amount of hydrogen as oxygen.

Advice

  • If you can't find graphite pencils, you can use small pieces of wire instead. Just wrap them around the battery at one end and leave the other end in the water. This will have the same effect as pencils.
  • You can try a battery of a different size, which will have an effect on the size of the current flowing through the water and this, in turn, will have an effect on the rate at which the water molecules divide.

Warnings

  • After adding an electrolyte to increase conductivity, such as salt, just keep in mind that a small amount of chlorine by-product is produced. While it is not enough to be dangerous, you may notice a subtle smell of chlorine.
  • This experiment should be done under the supervision of an adult. This is because you will be working with electricity and gases. While they are unlikely to be harmful, they do have the potential to be.

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