Maker Monday: When Life Gives you Lemons…Make a Fire? – Brain Brigade

Do you remember when I told you that my family is crazy…I mean full of creativity and collaboration? We often spur each other on to try new things. To be curious. To work hard on solving problems. To dig for answers. Well, my dad’s birthday rolled around and we had a family party that involved lemons. Zinc nails. Copper nails. Wire. And fire. Well…let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The question: Can you really start a fire from a lemon?

Spreading like wildfire {ha! pun intended!} around social media was a video of NorthSurvival (as it turns out this is a hoax! He makes advertising money from this video.). NorthSurvival demonstrates how to use a lemon and some other odds and ends to start a fire. My sister, Amanda, showed up to the birthday party with a bag full of fun to test this method out. She and her family had started the experiment earlier in the day but couldn’t get it to work, so she brought in more of the {crazies} family members to give it a whirl.

First you’ll need a lemon, zinc nails, copper or brass nails or brads, wire, insulated wire, toilet paper, and steel wool. I know. You’re already wondering how you’re going to find these items when you’re in a desperate survival situation. Trust me, you’re not going to need them. You’ll be better off digging up a battery and giving it a shot. {Side note: I haven’t tried the battery trick yet, but when I do, you’ll be the first to see my results!}

You can watch the video for the details on how to build it.

We tried. And we tried. And we tried some more. We switched out the copper nails with brass brads (because it looked like that might be what he was using). We tried different wire, different conductors, longer wire, shorter wire, more toilet paper and steel wool, less steel wool and toilet paper. We tried using a new lemon. We rotated through the family. It sat on the table and family members hovered over this mess for hours trying to ignite the toilet paper. We did measure 0.5 volts using a voltmeter, but it wasn’t nearly enough to get a fire started.

After hours of work on this, I finally decided to turn to the trusty internet I scoured websites looking for people who were successful in this method. I found not a single person who had tried it and reported failure. I read comments. I read websites. I found one website that listed it on the very bottom of ways to start a fire…but I don’t think they actually tried it.

And then Mrs. Brainiac on the hunt finally found a video explaining that NorthSurvival was a hoax! See the video below. Next time we’ll light the birthday candles with matches.

If you want to try an easy hands-on project using electricity that actually works, check out our Light Up 3D Washington Monument! There’s no hoax here!

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