Improvised Battery (Short Lasting)

Section VII

No. 12


This battery is powerful but must be used within 15 minutes after fabrication. One cell of this battery will detonate one blasting cap or one igniter. Two cells, connected in series, will detonate two of these devices and so on. Larger cells have a longer life as well as greater power.


  • Water
  • Sodium hydroxide (lye, solid  or concentrated solution)
  • Copper or brass plate about 4 in. (10 cm) square and 1/16 in. (2 mm) thick
  • Aluminum plate or sheet, same size as copper plate
  • Charcoal powder
  • Container for mixing
  • Knife

One of the following:

  • Potassium permanganate, solid
  • Calcium hypochlorite, solid
  • Manganese dioxide (pyrolucite)


  • Soap manufacturing
  • Disinfectants
  • Sewer cleaner
  • Disinfectants
  • Deodorants
  • Disinfectants
  • Water treating chemicals
  • Chlorine bleaches
  • Dead dry-cell batteries

NOTE: Be sure sodium hydroxide solution is at least a 45% solution by weight. If not, boil off some of the water. If solid sodium hydroxide is available, dissolve some sodium hydroxide In about twice as much water (by volume).


1. Scrape coating off both ends of wires with knife until metal is shiny.

37 11 Improvised Battery (Short Lasting)

2. Mix thoroughly (do not grind) approximately equal volumes of powdered charcoal and one of the following: potassium permangenate, calcium hypochlorite, or manganese dioxide. Add water until a very thick paste is formed.

37 21 Improvised Battery (Short Lasting)

3. Spread a layer of this mixture about 1/8 in. (2 mm) thick on the copper or brass plate. Be sure mixture is thick enough so that when mixture is sandwiched be¬tween two metal plates, the plates will not touch each other at any point.

NOTE: If more power is required, prepare several plates as above.


1. Just prior to use (no more than 15 minutes), carefully pour a small quantity of sodium hydroxide solution over the mixture on each plate used.

37 31 Improvised Battery (Short Lasting)

CAUTION: If solution gets on skin, wash off immediately with water.

2. Place an aluminum plate on top of the mixture on each copper plate. Press firmly. Remove any excess that oozes out between the plates.

37 41 Improvised Battery (Short Lasting)

CAUTION: Be sure plates are not touching each other at any point.

3. If more than one cell is used, place the cells on top of each other so that unlike metal plates are touching.

37 51 Improvised Battery (Short Lasting)

4. When ready to fire, clean plates with knife where connections are to be made. Connect one wire to the outer aluminum plate. This maybe done by holding the wires against the plates or by hooking them through holes punched through plates. If wires are hooked through plates, be sure they do not ouch mixture between plates.

37 61 Improvised Battery (Short Lasting)

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