So you want to know how to make a pickle glow too. Well first I must emphasize that you CAN be injured if you are not careful. And if you are to try this I am in NO WAY responsible. You will be dealing with electricity which can really injure you. If you are a student tell your teacher about this web sight and ask for their help - please DO NOT do this at home. Now that I have made my disclaimer we can get onto the fun.
First, the things you will need. Here is a picture of the materials you will need, so as I explain you can see what I am talking about.
You will need
*a nice big dill pickle from you local grocery store deli.
*2 ring stands
*2 clamps for the ring stands
*a power supple - here I am using a variac. You don't want to just plug in the forks into the outlet you will probably short out the outlet. With the variac you can control the electricity that is applied (it is almost like a giant dimmer switch)- more about this later, but DO NOT plug the forks into the outlet.
*a 6 foot extension cord
*heat shrink tubing - about 4 inches for each fork
As you can see some work must be done to the forks and the extension cord. What I did was to cut off the end of the extension cord that has all the outlets on it. Then split the extension cords at the end you cut about a foot - you need to be able to have it separated enough so you can put the forks into the pickle. I then connected the wires of the extension cord to the forks and covered with heat shrink tubing, for some safety.
OK, now let's get set up. Here is a picture of how I set up my pickle.
First you want to set up the ring stands about a foot apart. Put the forks onto the ring stands with the clamps, making sure the forks are facing each other. Now you want to put the pickle in position. Stick one fork into the pickle - it is best to put all the teeth of the fork into the pickle, maybe even a little past is great. Now stick the other fork into the pickle. BE CAREFUL THE FORKS ARE NOT TOUCHING EACH OTHER - THEY WILL ARCH! I don't want to wear your pickle. Now with the variac off plug in you extension cord into it and plug the variac in. With the variac power at zero turn on the switch and SLOWLY turn up the voltage to 120 volts on the variac. (The standard voltage from a regular wall outlet)
It will take a little while to start doing anything. The first sign that your pickle is doing something is that you will see the pickle really start dripping. Then you''ll hear it start to hiss and see smoke coming out of it. Then you should start to see it glowing shortly after that. Depending on how your forks are into the pickle you may get the whole pickle to glow or just one half.
You can shut the same pickle off and do it again if you like you can get at least 3 good glowings out of a pickle - probably more, I haven't tried more. Oh! One thing I forgot to mention this little demonstration REALLY SMELLS, so make sure you are doing it in a hood or can open a window.
Well good luck and PLEASE be careful!!!!!!!! I don't want anyone hurt. Please email me and let me know how it went if you gave it a try. I would love questions or comments. If you are interested in this more take a look in The Journal of Chemical Education - It was the May 96 issue. Another place to look is The Electric Pickle Site.