Jim's Homemade Hydrolysis Reactor



  1. Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut the soda bottle into three pieces as indicated by the dotted lines.
    1. The top of the bottle is discarded.
    2. Cut a V shaped notch in the middle piece of the bottle as shown. This will be the holder for the reactor.
    3. The bottom of the bottle is the reactor.
  2. Drill 1/4" diameter holes (or whatever you need to match your electrodes) in the bottom of the reactor.
  3. Insert the electrodes through the holes and glue in place. You want to have an inch or so of the electode extending out the bottom of the reactor. Glue the electodes in place, trying to keep the electrodes as vertical as possible.
  4. Attach wires to the bottom of the electrodes by simply wrapping them arround the rods or use aligator clips.
  5. Set the Reactor into the Holder and tape in place with clear tape.


  1. Make a 5 to 10% solution of the Epsom Salts in water and fill the reactor until the elctrodes are completly covered.
  2. Fill the test tubes to the top with the salt solution, cover with your finger, invert and place into the solution in the reactor and then slide them down over the electrodes.
  3. Route the wires through the notch cut in the base and connect to the battery.
  4. Within a second or so you should see bubbles rising off the electrodes.

I use a 12V 20AH lead acid battery (essentially a small car battery) as the power source. A 9V battery will also work and is much safer, but the electrolysis will be pretty slow. You could also use a 12V or so AC adaptor ("wall wart").

WARNING: The combination of salt water and a fairly powerful voltage supply can be dangerous!


  1. 2 Liter plastic soda bottle
  2. 2 test tubes, small bottles or graduated cylinders
  3. 1/4" carbon rods
  4. Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salts, available in most grocery and drug stores)
  5. Insulated Wire
  6. 12V Battery (or "wall wart")
  7. Hot melt glue gun, epoxy, "Liquid Nails" or other viscous water proof glue
  8. Scotch tape or clear packing tape

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Modified: 11 August 2005
©2005 James Sluka