The perfect use for the Christmas orange
The perfect use for the Christmas orange
Last Edited: 25/Nov/2015

There are many exciting moments on Christmas Day, but one of the best is that first rush of waking up followed by a scramble to see what Father Christmas has left you in your stocking.

He's a good ol' man, Father Christmas. He knows exactly what you want - a toy robot, some magic tricks to fool friends and family, a book to while away the morning until Mum and Dad are awake, some chocolate, a few nuts and what's this... an orange?!

An orange. Why is there always an orange? Is he trying to say something about being healthy? It's Christmas Day, and there's chocolate!

Let's be honest, there is no way that thing is being eaten. It'll lie unloved in the bottom of the stocking for a while and then be noticed in the evening and snuck into the kitchen to be left with the other fruit until it goes a little mouldy a few days later (there is, after all, a lot of chocolate about). But what if there were something else that could be done with it? What if it could be a battery?

Yes, the humble orange can power anything!

Almost anything.

OK, a light bulb - one of those small ones, but imagine what could be done with an entire orange grove? Could that be the answer for the next generation of electric cars?

Here's how you turn an orange into a battery - a great thing to do on Boxing Day once you remember about the poor forgotten fruit.

You will need:

  • 1 orange (this can actually be any citrus fruit, what we are after is something a little acidic)
  • 1 copper nail (or copper rod, copper wire, or copper probe)
  • 1 zinc nail (or rod, or...)
  • 1 low power light bulb (an LED, a buzzer, or some other low power thing you want to turn on)

Some wire

Step one - preparing the orange

Hopefully, despite a day of mistreatment, the orange is still whole. It's important that the skin isn't split and the insides aren't oozing out. If it's a little bashed, that's actually quite good as it means the acidic juice is nicely spread inside. If it's pristine, give it a little rough treatment until it's not.

Step two - insert the electrodes

The zinc and copper nails (or whatever you have replaced them with) are the electrodes - zinc is anode (+) and copper is cathode (-) for the scientifically curious. Pierce the skin of the orange with each, making sure they do not touch either inside or outside the fruit. Make sure half of the nail is inside and half outside (no need to be exact).

Step three - connect the wires

Connect one wire to the copper nail (tape it, wind it around, solder it precisely - whatever method you like). Connect the other to the zinc nail. Make sure the wires don't touch.

Step four - connect the light

Connect the wires to the light bulb and watch it light up!

That's it - a Christmas battery made from the orange no one wanted in the first place. Remember, if you want to do this, you may need to ask Father Christmas for copper and zinc nails and a little bit of wire to go with the orange. It's also a useful backup plan for those presents that come without batteries - lacking a packet of AAAs but have a full fruit bowl? No problem!

Enjoy your stocking!