electricity experiment

say i’ve got a jar filled with iron filings suspended in mineral oil (the filings, not the jar). and i put a positive and negative terminal into the oil and run current through it. say 110 volts. what would happen?

would electricity conduct with no problem? would the filings melt? would they arrange themselves in flux lines? would the oil smoke?



Mineral oil is dielectric so 110 V would do nothing. A few thousand volts would cause an arc at lower voltage than if there were no iron filings

I don’t believe that the iron filings can actually be suspended in mineral oil, it’s too thin. Experiments I’ve heard about would use a more viscous liquid like Karo Syrup. You will wind up with a pile of filings in the bottom of your container. If you submerge the electrodes in the filings you will most likely get some current going through, generating heat in the container, I have no clue how much, though. I doubt very much that anything interesting will happen, other than the oil getting hot.

Is mineral oil flammable? That would be my primary concern.

mineral oil is used as dielectric and coolant in power transformers.

Yes, mineral oil will burn if heated enough and it is used as fuel in large, marine, diesels.

I assume all this is just an imaginary experiment. Don’t try this at home.

Oh, Sure. NOW you tell me. :smiley:

It is a bad idea to stick the bare ends of conductors having 110 v. house power applied between them. Use a 6 volt lantern battery. The life you save will be your own.

make the first sentence read “It is a bad idea to stick the bare ends of conductors having 110 v. house power applied between them into anything.”

about what voltage would conduction start??

and would the iron filings assume a magnetic flux pattern?


To JB:

Did you just buy a life insurance policy with a no-suicide clause or something?

I wouldn’t try this with Karo, either. Sugar BURNS, and it STINKS when it does.

not to put to fine a point on it, but the SDMB is what keeps me from winning a Darwin Award.

to clarify, i have no intention of performing this experiment. i am asking questions so i don’t have to.