4 DIY Science Projects That Can Solve Everyday Household Problems

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by Corbin Fuller

Not all rogues are scientists, but all scientists are definitely rogues. Not only do they have an inherent desire to figure out how things work, but some of their simpler experiments can often end up becoming staples of the DIY community. So before you start chucking fistfuls of cash at one of these projects, consider the much cheaper homemade alternatives that scientists scienced up for us.

 
 

Make Carbon Dioxide Without An Expensive Tank

It turns out that getting carbon dioxide is kind of a pain in the face. You can find CO2 tanks galore online, but federal law prevents filled ones from being shipped by air. If you don’t live near a place that fills or exchanges CO2 tanks (paintball stores, fire safety shops, home brewery specialty stores), you’re just kind of screwed. You could drop a hundred bucks on an empty, 20 pound tank, just to find out you have to exchange it for an old, crappy one that’s already filled or drive a hundred miles to fill your new shiny one.

That is, unless, you have some sugar, some yeast and a 2 liter bottle. The mix is pretty simple: 1 1/2 cups of sugar and one tablespoon of yeast dissolved in a bottle that’s 3/4 full of warm water. Run a hose through a hole in the cap, seal off any air leaks with hot glue, silicone, or super glue. And that’s it. Enjoy inhaling from your new CO2 bong. Wait, no, don’t do that. It’s actually for ...

Pixabay

Pixabay

“Wait, you said something about bongs? Go back to that part.”

Why Would You Want To Do That?

The CO2 is for plants. Most people use it for planted aquariums, but by covering your houseplants with a bag and sticking the tube inside, you can dose them, too. If you’re doing it to an aquarium, you’ll need a “diffuser,” which is just a fancy word for a thing that turns large bubbles into small bubbles, so it’s more easily absorbed into the water. You can either buy a cheap “air stone” to jam into the end of your tubing, or you can DIY those, too.

You can use everything from an unused cigarette filter (with the paper taken off), to natural wood chopsticks, to an actual stick that you break off of a tree and shave down to size. If you’re able to smell the yeast and you want an odor free version, The King of DIY has a nifty 2-bottle method, using baking soda and citric acid.

Just be sure to do your research before attempting it (and really, any of these entries). If you get too much CO2, you can accidentally poison your fish. If you don’t start the siphon correctly in the citric acid version, you can build up too much pressure and blow up one of the bottles. The DIY method requires some patience while you dial in the right mix and pressure, but that’s part of what makes DIY projects awesome. It’s tiny science, right in your house. Also potential bottle explosions, right in your house.

Make Oxygen With ... Potatoes?

If you think that getting CO2 is difficult, try getting your hands on a filled oxygen tank. Shipping regulations are even tighter, because not only is it a pressurized container, but it has the added danger of being combustible. Plus, if you don’t use it correctly, it can sometimes open up a wormhole in your living room.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Editor’s note: Actually, wormholes can only be opened in your kitchen.

It turns out that you can make pure oxygen, using nothing more than regular 3% hydrogen peroxide and a potato. When the hydrogen peroxide makes contact with an enzyme in the potato, peroxide starts rapidly decomposing into water and oxygen. The oxygen rises up into the air, and the water sits safely in the bottle of the bottle.

Why Would You Want To Do That?

We swear we’re not going to make this whole article about aquariums, but that’s one of the go-to uses for aquarium owners during a power outage. It’s a way to quickly oxygenate the fish tank while your air pump is down, and the reaction can last for hours.

It’s also good for sick pets in glass cages (spiders, snakes, ant farms, your collection of nasty slugs because you’re gross). Unlike CO2, you could actually inhale this recreationally, which we’re pretty sure automatically makes you a citizen of Los Angeles. There are some supposed, albeit unsubstantiated health benefits to this, but we can’t help thinking that reality is getting just a little too close to the plot of Spaceballs.

Use Water And Electricity To Remove Rust

This one is a little on the dangerous side, so we need to stress again: Do your research. Also, if you’re a youngster, make sure you have an adult who isn’t dumb or insane to help you with the experiment — age is not a gateway to wisdom. Also, don’t use stainless steel in this process, because it can produce a toxic reaction.

That said, check this out. This is a pile of nuts, bolts, and washers that a guy found in the ground. They’re so rusted, they’re unusable:

And here they are after electrolysis:

So how does it work? Basically, we’re putting the rusty metal into a bucket of water and adding either salt or baking soda. We strip the ends of an old cellphone plug-in charger and wrap the negative end around a sacrificial piece of metal (that metal will disintegrate during the process). In this video, the guy is using a piece of carbon:

 
 

The positive end is hooked to the rusty metal. Then you plug it in and wait. Over several hours, the rust detaches and dissolves, leaving you with this:

Why Would You Want To Do That?

Obviously, you wouldn’t be using this process to save a single rusty bolt. That’s a lot of work, and it’s not exactly safe to be playing with exposed wires and water. This is actually used for restoration of old iron antiques, like these guys who found an old gun buried in the ground:

 
 

But you can totally use it for more practical purposes, like bringing a rusty iron skillet back to life. Or maybe you have an old car part that’s mechanically functional, and the only thing holding you back from using it is rust. Machinists use this method all the time to avoid tracking down hard to find parts, or even just to save the expense of having to find and buy one.

Make Hydrogen Out Of Aluminum And Toilet Bowl Cleaner

This is another potentially dangerous one, so the same rules apply: Take precautions, and make sure your adult isn’t an idiot.

The setup is pretty simple. Put strips of aluminum foil into a 2 liter bottle. The less crumpled they are, the better, as we’re looking for as much surface area contact as possible. Once the foil is in the bottle, carefully pour in the cleaner, using a funnel. Make sure you’re wearing gloves and eye protection, because what you’re handling is hydrochloric acid, which is great for burning the crap out of your skin.

Seal the top of the bottle with the lip of an unfilled balloon, and it will slowly fill with the resulting hydrogen.

Why Would You Want To Do That?

Honestly? Just to hang out with Macaulay Culkin and explode some stuff:

 
 

OK, maybe that one doesn’t solve an everyday problem, but it still looks pretty damn fun.

Like this article? Check out “Awesome Stuff You Can Make Out Of Random Household Junk” and “5 Appliances You Can Make After The Apocalypse”.

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