5D30.30 - Pickle Light - Electrocute a Pickle

See procedure.
See procedure.
Code Number:
Demo Title:
Pickle Light - Electrocute a Pickle
Ionization of Electrolyte
Area of Study:
Chemistry, Electricity
Pickle electrocution apparatus, Spare 20 or 30 amp fuses, Pickles (Dills are Preferable).

See also 5D30.30 in Electricity and Magnetism.

Insert the two elevated copper wires into the ends of a pickle. THEN PLUG IN THE UNIT!!! Turn the On/Off switch to the On position. The 40 or 50 watt bulb will come on. This light acts not only as the indicator that the circuit is armed, but also as a current shunt and current spike protector. When ready HOLD DOWN the button on the hand switch. Depending on the size of the pickle, after about 10 seconds the pickle will start to emit steam and then will start to glow quite spectacularly. This is a good approximation of what happens to an electrocution victim as the electric current follows the electrolyte streams (Arteries and Veins) of the body.


Consult the information in the file as to the proper safety measures and some other variations of this demonstration.

  • Paul Hewitt, "Figuring Physics", TPT, Vol. 59, #3, March 2021, p. 216.
  • Peter M. Weimer, Rubin Battino, Arnold George, "The Incredible "Glowing" Pickle and Onion and Potato and...", Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 73, # 5, May 1996, p.456.
  • Pirketta Scharlin et al, "Glowing Veggies", Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 73, # 5, May 1996, p. 457.
  • Martin Gardner, "The Electric Pickle", Science Tricks, p. 56
  • Jearl Walker, "5.23, Current, Voltage, and People", The Flying Circus of Physics Ed. 2, p. 229.
  • Mark F. Trax, "Pickles in the Lab: A Learning Cycle Approach to Solution Chemistry", Grudy Center High School.
  • "Light Elements", Discover Magazine, May 1994.
  • "Characterization of Organic Illumination Systems", Digital Equipment Corporation, April 1, 1989.
  • Brian Carusella, "The Wondrous Glowing Pickle", Bizarre Stuff, 1997-2002. 
  • Julius Sumner Miller, Q170 & A170, Millergrams II – Some More Enchanting Questions for Enquiring Minds, p. 41 & 97.

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