How to produce Oxygen at Home

The procedure described below will realise the continuous production of oxygen gas in a home environment.

I have tested a basic technique for producing small amounts of oxygen gas reliably and simply.  Gas can be stored and used from a relatively low-pressure bladder, as needed.

I have no medical training - so am  not qualified to advise on any health-related applications for the procedure described. 

The technique employed, electrolysis, involves splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electric current.  It is not an efficient method - but the equipment needed can generally be found in a domestic environment. 

A zinc-plated bucket is the electrical cathode and copper piping serves as an anode.  (If other inert metals, other than copper, are available, e.g. stainless steel or platinum!, they may be suitable for the anode - refer to the periodic table).  Oxygen gas produced at the anode is collected by an inverted funnel (or neck of a bottle)   hydrogen, produced at the cathode as a by-product, needs to be vented to the atmosphere and safely dispersed.

The addition of a small amount of a suitable impurity to the water helps facilitate the process (adding free ions) because pure water is not a good conductor of electricity.

The rate that oxygen can be produced will depend mainly on the magnitude of the electric current flowing between the electrodes, which, in-turn will depend on:

Theoretically, one kilogram of water (a litre) splits into 620 litres of oxygen and 1240 litres of hydrogen.  A human consumes about 550 litres of pure oxygen in 24 hours.

The oxygen content of normal air is c. 21%.

This proof-of-concept `Lash-up´ shows the wiring for the electrodes.  (The jaws of the clamp are insulated!)

In reality, this fairly basic configuration would need to be up-rated if it were to produce a useful amount of gas rapidly. e.g. an anode with a greater surface area - possibly by forming a rather longer, thinner pipe into a compact coil.  Also, the voltage of the power source here (13V) could be increased  (12-cell,  [24V nominal] lead-acid battery chargers [which often produce close to 28V peak] should be suitable.  A D.C. laboratory power supply, like the one shown above, which is smoothed and regulated, is an unnecessary luxury)…  and appropriate (higher current) connection-wire used.


Metals, liquid electrolytes, electricity and humans, when combined, do not make congenial bedfellows.  Particular care needs to be exercised with direct current and relatively high voltage, direct current - which, to be prudent, would be anything exceeding 50V.  Consider wearing rubber/latex gloves for protection and insulation.

Electric currents flowing through conductors (including electrolytes) will cause heat to be generated within them - roughly proportional to the square of the current.

Dangerous substances, hazardous to humans, can be produced by electrolysis inadvertently.

Hydrogen gas is inflammable…  and when combined with oxygen in the right proportion, is explosive - but, being lighter than air, will float upwards, and, if allowed, dissipate in moving, free air.

Oxygen gas (slightly heavier than air - so it will collect at ground-level) will accelerate combustion processes.

What you'll need:

Using two lengths of connection wire:


A rather handy indicator of the pressure of liberated oxygen (over ambient air-pressure) is provided by the difference in height of water inside the funnel compared with the height of water outside it - so, up to about ten centimetres of water - relatively low.

It may be useful to include a `collection´/storage bladder/reservoir, say, a large plastic bag.  This should seal to the mouth of the bottle/funnel - and then gas extracted from the bladder.  (One end of a canular could be inserted into the mouth of the bag - and oxygen drawn from the other end.)

Water will be consumed as it´s broken-down into gases, so, for oxygen to be produced continuously, it'll need to be regularly topped-up.

As a refinement, the central area of the base of the bucket could be covered/coated to prevent - or divert - hydrogen bubbles forming on it and contaminating the harvested oxygen.