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How to Make Penicillin and Other Homemade Experiments

Updated on February 25, 2011

vinegar battery

Home School Chemistry

home made

Let food be your medicine and medicine your food is a saying that we would do well to give some deep thought. Hippocrates was certainly onto something.

A saying that I use is “Let Nature Be Your Guide”. Whether it was due to intentionally watching Nature or due to pursuing other goals there are many medicines we use today that have their roots in Nature.

Take aspirin for example. The well known Bayer Group, the producers of the aspirin many of us are aware of, and often thankful for, began life as a company that made dyes.

Felix Hoffmann who took over the company when Friedrich Bayer died discovered aspiring while he was experimenting with a waste product of one of the dye components in an attempt to find relieve for his father's rheumatism.

During this search he chemically synthesized a stable form of salicylic acid powder. This compound went on to become the active ingredient in: Aspirin.

Aspirin’s name was derived as follows: "a" from acetyl, and "spir" from the spirea plant, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria, also known as Spiraea ulmaria), and the source of salicin.

Since the time of Hippocrates white willow bark has been used to treat pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions such as bursitis and tendonitis.

White willow bark is also know as pussy willow; Salix alba; Salix nigra and is a fairly common tree throughout many parts of the world. You can boil 2 grams of willow bark in about 200 mls of water and create an infusion that is alleged to relieve pain.

I would not do this unless it was in a survival situation.

If you are planning to use a natural supplement or medicine it is wise to consult with your family doctor before doing so; especially if you are taking any prescribed medication.


Penicillin is any antibiotic drug that is taken from molds or made synthetically to treat different diseases and/or infections. More specifically, penicillin is the liquid which is secreted from penicillium notatum, which is the mold.

Alexander Fleming stumped upon penicillin accidentally.

You can do a simple experiment and make your own penicillin.

What is Science?

The word science is derived from the Latin "scientia," which means knowledge.

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, defines science as "knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world."

So what does this mean? Science is a means by which we acquire knowledge; a system that uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena.

Science is about discovery but it is also about the search. As you have just read both aspirin and penicillin came into being because people were employing the scientific method to find something and during that process found something else.

The Scientific Method:

  • The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments.
  • The steps of the scientific method are to:
    • Ask a Question
    • Do Background Research
    • Construct a Hypothesis
    • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    • Communicate Your Results
  • It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. A "fair test" occurs when you change only one factor (variable) and keep all other conditions the same.

If you want to learn how plants grow there is a very simple experiment that you can do. All you need is a bean seed, a small clear container, soil, and some water.

Put the soil in the clear container, plant the bean seed near a side of the container and about ¼ inch deep, cover lightly, water and place in the sun (needs at least 4 hours per day).

You can watch the seed develop a root system and become a bean plant. When the bean appears you can eat it or save the seeds inside and grow more beans.

Learning is meant to be fun and an active experience; science experiments are both. Just remember to follow the instructions and wear goggles or gloves if required.


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 6 years ago from New Brunswick

    Indeed it is.

  • profile image

    Leslieivera 6 years ago

    penicellen is so cool.

  • profile image

    Dent 7 years ago

    I was sitting here wondering what we would do if there was a horrible something or another happen to us and we had to depend on our self. One of the things we would need would be penicillin, so I wondered if we could make it on our own. One Google and here I am at your site looking for the way to make penicillin. The link is dead. I tried it several ways and nothing but the lost page error. Any help would be appreciated. Nice site! There are few thing as fun as science and physics.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    In the video and the hyperlinks as indicated in the text.

  • profile image

    me 7 years ago

    so where are the instructions for the experiment?

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome, thanks for dropping by.

  • sheristeele profile image

    sheristeele 8 years ago from Siler City, NC

    I liked the chemistry videos.. thanks so much

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome. Glad it was useful.

  • profile image

    Thornton Tice 8 years ago

    Thanks for the insight on making aspirin. I am going to get my science minded 12 year old son to look at this and do this experiment for a school project!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome and thanks for stopping by.

  • Jesus_saves_us_7 profile image

    Jesus_saves_us_7 8 years ago from Seeking Salvation

    i home school and now i have a cool project for them, thanks.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    Well, maybe next year, thanks for stopping by.

  • johnr54 profile image

    Joanie Ruppel 8 years ago from Texas

    I wish I'd found this a month ago, my kids just handed in their science fair projects last week. I would have liked to see how well the penecillin one worked out.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome.

  • anne.moss profile image

    anne.moss 8 years ago from Israel

    Thank you! My husband and myself are huge fans of scientific thinking. We were wondering about the penicillin thing, and we may try it with the kids too.

  • profile image

    Anonomouys 8 years ago

    ching ching

  • earnestshub profile image

    earnestshub 9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    Thanks Bob, that settled a couple of things for me about origins. I thought Aspirin was made from willow trees, but could not remember the source, so I am adopting your info to my thinking.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks Bobbie for visiting.

  • Bobbie Haws profile image

    Bobbie Haws 9 years ago from Gilbert AZ

    Great and interesting facts. I love that gardening can mean so many things besides growing food.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for adding your experience to the hub.

  • Chef Jeff profile image

    Chef Jeff 9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

    I did the lemon/penny/nail battery with my students just for fun. I also did the natural penicillin thing some years back. Didn't taste very good, but it worked!