Offgrid Preparation Starting Fires with a Lemon – Real or Hoax?
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Here's a shocking fact: not everything you see on the internet is true.
If you're looking for true survival knowledge, you should never take advice solely from one source—not even us. We would encourage everyone to retain a healthy degree of skepticism, double-check the facts, and (most importantly) practice the survival skills you learn to test their effectiveness. Otherwise, it's easy to fall for some “survival expert” who could be leading you astray.
Recently, we came across a YouTube video that claims to show how a single lemon can supposedly be used to start a fire. The video states that all you need is one lemon, six copper clips, six galvanized (Zinc-coated) nails, a piece of wire, and some steel wool. The video has generated over 12 million views in a single month.
We won't embed the video, since we don't want to spread misinformation, but if you really want to watch it, you can do so here.
Most of us have learned about the concept of a “lemon battery” in school, and understand that a lemon can produce a small amount of electricity, so it seems plausible, right? Well, yes and no.
Despite what we saw in the video above, multiple sources tell us that a single lemon (with zinc and copper electrodes) produces about 1 milliamp (0.001 amp) and about 0.7 volts. For perspective, even an ordinary 9-volt battery can produce as much as 500 milliamps in short bursts. Since the milliamp current determines how much heat the wires will quickly generate when touched together, a single lemon should be several hundred times less effective for fire-starting than a 9V battery.
Here's a video that explains why a lemon isn't an effective fire-starter:
Remember the scientific method: if a survival technique's results can't be replicated again and again, there's something fishy going on. Unfortunately, it appears that starting fires with a lemon battery is a hoax. Several sites which originally shared the video later posted retractions, admitting that the original video must have been faked.
But don't take our word for it—go get a lemon and try it. Just don't expect a spectacular crackling fire …unless your lemon contains a 9V battery.