MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: Is it safe to eat a potato used as a battery?

Date: Mon Jun 26 19:55:11 2006
Posted By: Don Schaffner, Faculty, Food Science, Rutgers University
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 1148842494.Bc

The potato battery experiments use copper and zinc electrodes.

The metals from the electrodes can potentially leach into the potatoes.

Copper and zinc are trace nutrients in small amounts, but toxic in large amounts.

Although you say that you will only use the potatoes for a few hours, I donít know of any data on exactly how much zinc and or copper would be deposited in the potatoes in that amount of time (although that would be an interesting experiment in itself!)

Without any data on the leaching rate, Iím afraid my recommendation is that you do not eat the potatoes to avoid any toxic reactions from the zinc or the copper.

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