Can You REALLY Charge A Phone With A Potato?

You may have heard about it already. Potato batteries are well-known and often made in science classes. But did you know you could charge a smartphone with one? 

First, let's talk about how this works.

Potatoes can conduct electricity by acting as a salt bridge between the two metals. Many fruits rich in electrolytes can also form this chemical reaction with the phosphoric acid they contain. Essentially, it's nature's version of battery acid. Bananas and strawberries are good examples. 

The reaction between the phosphoric acid and the zinc and copper generates power. The more slices used, the stronger the administration - as well as if you boil the potatoes.

Potatoes are a perfect choice because of their solid starch tissue. It can be stored for months and won't attract insects. Boiling the potato breaks down the resistance in the potato's substantial parts, allowing electrons to flow more freely. 


To assemble your potato battery kit for a light bulb, you need two metal electrodes and alligator clips. You can make a surprisingly strong battery by using a quarter of your sliced potato, sandwich it between a copper cathode and a zinc anode, and connect with a wire. This design allows you to easily replace the potato with a new slice when it no longer powers the battery.

Alligator clips transport the current-carrying wires and are attached to the light bulb's electrodes and negative and positive inputs. This combination can provide lighting at a much cheaper cost. 

For a visual of what this looks like, check out the video below.

Charging a Smartphone

Now that we can power a lightbulb, what would it take to build a potato battery strong enough to charge a smartphone?

It takes about 110 pounds of potatoes to charge a smartphone. It is a lot more complicated than lighting a lightbulb. You also need 36 feet of copper and zinc metal tubing. 

In the experiment performed by BatteryBox, the battery needed to give out 5V and 20mA. With these supplies, they also boiled the potatoes to increase power. Once they combined the potatoes with the zinc and copper, each potato had an open circuit voltage of 0.9V and gave out a current of 0.3-0.6mA. 

Next, they positioned the potato cells into a battery-packed configuration of 6 in series and 40 in parallel to achieve the needed power requirements. 

After this, they stripped a USB cable and plugged it into a Samsung Galaxy S3. The battery began charging. 

The result isn't as exciting as one would hope. It only charged 5 percent of the battery after five hours. But the experiment is still considered a success. After all, it could probably charge a phone in its entirety. The cost and the work put into it depends on how much fun you have in making batteries. 

To see how BatteryBox did it, check out the video below.

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