In chemistry, electrolysis is a method where electric current is used to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction. It involves passing an electric current through an ionic substance which is suitably solvent. The resulting chemical reactions happen at the electrodes and separation of materials takes place. If you want to try out the electrolysis process or explain it to your kids, you can use baking soda, distilled water and other components to understand the process. You can use a tarnished coin to clean it and explain the reaction that takes place.
If you have tried the electrolysis experiment at home you may have used salt. However, some experts are of the view that in the process it releases chlorine in air. You may instead use baking soda along with other components for the experiment. For this experiment you need non-metallic container, distilled water, baking soda and a little bit of salt. You also need an external source of direct electric current as well as two solid rods or fork or plates as electrodes. An AC/DC power supply of around 4 to 15 VDC and 500 mA may be used. The milliamps are the main consideration, only ensure that it does not exceed 1000 mA. Take a tarnished coin which may be cleaned to understand this process. You also need stainless steel alligator clips. Baking soda and salt are the active ingredients to make everything work. They are electrolytes which attract positive and negative ions to the coin and fork or spoon. They help clean any deposits or corrosion off the coin. Baking soda helps clean slower but leaves electrolyte cleaner. Distilled water is preferred as it contains very little impurities and minerals.
For the electrolysis process what you need is to fill up the container about 3/4th of the way with distilled water. Then take the fork or rods, attached to the wires and drape it over one side of the container, such that the wires are not submerged. Use an alligator clip to attach the coin and position it such that the coin is submerged in the electrolyte. Once done you need to plug in the transformer. Now add some salt or baking soda to the distilled water and stir it with a spatula. After some time the coin starts to fizz. If it does not, then exchange the fork and the coin, you have attached the wrong wires to them. When you do it correctly you will find that the coin is being cleaned. If you add more salt or baking soda in the electrolyte the process will speed up.
Electrolysis is the process of passing electric current through an electrolyte which causes migration of positively charged ion to the negative electrode and negatively charged ions to the positive electrode or anode. The overall process is like creating a battery. As for the cleaning part, you can clean a few things like rust from iron, even paint may actually be softened and then peeled off in sheets and so on. If you have rust between a seized bolt and its threaded hole or nut you can use electrolysis to soften the rust and remove it.
Washing soda , salt are more commonly used in this experiment. However, baking soda is also a good option and better cleanser once added to the electrolyte.