Thinking of building my own home Electrolysis device

First I’d like to say thanks to Andrea for providing this great resource. I’ve only recently began looking for alternatives to shaving, and this site saved me the time and expense of scams like no more hair.

That being said, I stubmled across home electrolysis while reading through these fourms. It seems ideal for me, as an inexpensive, proven, and effective method to remove body hair, provided one is paitent and not too hairy :smile:

Through the links I found here, I’ve been able to pretty much figure out all that I need to know to build my own electrolysis device. Although the concept is simple, being an electrical engineer definatley helped :smile: Here’s a quick diagram I drew up just to make sure that I’m on the right track:

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The only thing that I’m not sure about is the needle. I see that there are several types…2 piece, tapered, and insulated. From the descriptions that I read HERE it seems like an insulated needle would be most effective. Any thoughts on this? Also, what diameter should be used for coarse body hair and where can these be purchased?

It is also mentioned in an artice I read at, that “If you substitute a smaller diameter professional needle [in place of the default One Touch needle], the amperages may need to be increased by about 50%”. Is this due to the smaller needle having a somewhat smaller contact area?

Sorry for the length of this post…I guess I’m asking a lot.

[ November 05, 2002, 03:46 PM: Message edited by: bluespot ]

Your diagram should work. Be aware that the resistance of the human body will vary from individuals, to different parts of the body, to how much water you may have consumed. For others looking at the diagram, the needle contacts the body and the foot on the wet sponge completes the circuit with the body acting as the resistor between the two.

I’ve found with a .003 needle that I usually use between 10k to 15k. I too started with 2 potentiometers (a 10k and a 100k), but end up just leaving one alone. With the 7k fixed resistor in your diagram, you’re building in a safety precaution, but I think you could simplify the design with just the 25k pot or a 50k if you want more available on the low end range.

I went with a Uni-probe professional stylus with a banana plug ($28 at and bare needles (size 3m). Insulated needles should ensure that the energy is delivered to the tip, but are generally more expensive and thicker. They are a good choice for galvanic electrolysis though. They can be purchased at , but make sure the needles and the stylus are compatible (you normally need caps to hold the needle to the stylus unless you go with a Uni-probe setup).

I mentioned the 50% increase based on my empirical experience. I also assume it is due to the smaller area, since the one-touch needles are much thicker. Typically it is recommended to use needles that are of similar diameters to the hair being treated, but I’ve had no problem using .003’s on all hairs.

Although the wet sponge is a quick switch arrangement, a cleaner way would be to strap the sponge to your ankle and use a momentary switch you can operate with your foot.

Also, make sure your ammeter can measure less than 1 ma. The $20 Radio Shack 22-810 can do the job

You’re on a good track. Making a simple tool like this will cost less than $100, will avoid the frustrations of pitting bands, messy salt on your fingers, and easily bent expensive needles. It also requires a devotion of time, as it is a slow process. When used properly, the results will definitely be permanent and rewarding.

i need a .003 needle to use with the one touch are there any?

Thanks for the info NoHair! The links are great, that gives me everything that I’m looking for. I was just going to solder the needle into an empty pen case with some epoxy to hold it there, but I think I’ll pick up a stylus instead :wink:

I do have one question about the naming convention used with the needles though. Checking the site, I noticed that the needles can be named 3s, 3m, 3l, 4s, 4m, 4l, etc. I guess the 3, 4, etc stands for the diameter, .003mm, .004mm, etc. But the s,m,l (small, medium,large?) describes what?

Again, thanks for the info.

Bluespot: You have the right idea. I reverse engineered the Inverness One Touch and built one from parts from Radio Shack. I use a 9 volt batery to power mine and a 10k potentiometer to control the power. By running at 9 volts, the device is adequately underpowered to prevent overtreatment. Slows things down (45-60 seconds for terminal hairs), but I have had no problems like pitting or scarring. I’ll probably increase the voltage to 12 volts to speed thing up one of these days, substituting a 50k to 100k potentiometer for the 10k.

The fixed resistor is an nice touch! I’ll be modifying mine with someting like that.

I would advise using insulated needles for straight galvanic electrolysis. The current is delivered from the tip if the needle to the base of the follicle and not to the surface of the skin and the tissue lining the follicle. For me, it cuts down on surface irritation. Haven’t figured out the naming conventions for the different types of needles…

What will you be using as a power supply? A battery or an AC adapter?

Tiny: The needle holder and needles that come with the One Touch are not the best quality and replacement needles are expensive, as well. The needles are proprietary to the One Touch and are not used by professionals. You would be better off replacing the holder with a real needle holder (about $25-30) and use disposable needles (about $0.05-0.10 each). Be advised that the needle holders have different connectors (BNC and some other proprietary types), but you can get one with a 1/8" phono jack connector. Keeps with the spirit of

I use Ballet insulated needles both .002 and .003" diameter. They are a bit more expensive, but work well on terminal (thick) and vellus (thin) hairs. Try Their on-line catalog is not the greatest, so you might want to call or request their catalog to make sure you get what you need.


You are right about the number representing the diameter (3=.003) and correct again that the letters refer to the lengths. The M length is 5 mm, which has worked well for me. Other manufacturers use different nomenclatures. Using a professional stylus is not expensive and makes it much easier to guide the probe and replace probes than your orginal idea. The uni-probes are different from other designs, in that the needle is actually a needle in a plastic holder that screws into the matching stylus. Others are machined and slipped into that kind of stylus and held in place by a cap that goes over the probe and onto the stylus. You can often specify any connection type you want; I chose a banana plug as it was easy to get the jack from Radio Shack and it just pushes in. It is just a single pole wire, so any connector type will work as long as you match the jack.

It seems that anywhere from 9 to 20 volts can work as long as you dial down the amperage to a proper level for the duration of treatment. Even at nine volts you could do damage, so be prudent with all combinations.

but I so love the one touch lol. thanks for your input. I should have a one touch arriving today from folica :smile: 2nd day air:)

it is the winter season again and time for me to get zappin again:) this winter I have a new plan, I’m gunna section of my arm into a grid. with marker i presume. or pen? anyway, then label the squares with numbers:) and each night complete a square. if i miss a night, then the next night i gotta do 2 squares…hehe

seems like alotta work ya but remember, i did my entire left arm already so i’m aware of the amount of hairs on a human body. almost a million I think

For most consumers, a $30 One Touch is going to be the easiest option, but I know a lot of people who have modified One Touches or built their own devices for $25-$100.

I urge anyone making a homemade electrolysis device to use a battery for a power source. Using a wall plug greatly increases the danger, and I cannot recommend it. I know people who have used 12-volt lantern batteries, but I wouldn’t go much above that. You don’t really need to.

Below is a not I got from someone who made mods to a One Touch, including a 9v tail:

</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> I am a Electronics Technician and have modified my machine some-- not so much that your results should vary from mine, but I upped the voltage to 12 V.

CAUTION: you need to learn how to use the machine first so you don’t blow your face up. I took out the buzzer and placed an amp meter on mine so I could watch the load drop as the hair root was drying up.

Don’t tear your machine up trying this unless you know what you are doing. It really does not need it. It works fine from the box on a wall 9V pack as it is. And don’t try to put 12v to the 9v tail-- you will burn up the 555 IC timer… It can’t take it! </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Again, I do not advise consumers to manufacture their own equipment. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, you can end up scarring your face or worse, especially with an AC adaptor instead of a battery.

word, lol, where in chÈnÏÕo u from andrea? im in naperville

I’m on the near north side, tiny. I gotta leave it at that because I received a death threat from some scum who didn’t like what I had to say about his little hair removal scam. :roll_eyes:

I have built my own device and have a few questions to improve it.

What material is the positive electrode made of on professional equipments? I am worried about not so healthy metal ions that may go into my body.

I started out by a OneTouch replacement needle, but that is to thick at almost 0.005 . I think that 0.003 for ordinary beard and 0.002 for the thin but long hairs on the upper lip will do, but what length should I select? Short, medium, long says nada without any references.

The anode (the part that contacts the body to complete the circuit) is usually made of stainless steel. It’s an excellent electrical conductor and resists corrosion. You can improve conductivity between the anode and body by keeping the contact area moist with a weak solution of salt water, about 1 teaspoon in a cup of water.

I would avoid an anode made of aluminium. Could be toxic if the metal can migrate out of the anode into the body…

The device I built is powered by a 9 volt battery, and I use a sponge soaked in salt water as the anode. I just place my foot on the sponge after inserting the needle to complete the circuit.

About needles… I would advise purchasing a regular needle holder and using professional needles. The One Touch needles are pretty expensive and hard to find. I don’t believe it is possible to use professional needles in the One Touch needle holder.

I use different needles depending on the type of hair I am treating, and I use Ballet needles only. They are tapered, and I feel this helps treating deep rooted hairs. My beard is mostly grey with deep, deep roots.

I generally use style F2I. ‘F’ stands for the size of the shank (diameter, I believe,but I could be wrong), ‘2’ stands for the diameter of the needle, 0.002", and ‘I’ denotes that the needle is insulated. The card the needles are packaged in says the needle length is “standard”, and I can treat the deepest rooted hair with these needles with no problems. IMHO, if you are doing straight galvanic, insulated needles are the only way to go. I get a lot of surface irritation when using uninsulated needles.

The next larger size, F3I, can be uncomfortable to use, but they do work better on finer hairs, believe it or not. I suspect there is a relationship regarding needle size and pain. The larger the needle, the more pain.

Other needles in the inventory… F4, stainless steel, uninsulated, work well on large terminal hairs, especially those that have a tight pore around the hair shaft. F2G and F3G , gold plated, sometimes helpful when treating greys. The needle is more visible under some lighting conditions and contrast well with grey hairs.

My electrologist and I both shop at Yes, I am doing this under adult supervision… We decided a while back that this was going to be a cooperative effort.

I’m using a piece of stainless steel as an anode for now, but it smells metal after use and the skin too. Stainless steel is an alloy, not an element, and there are many flavours available. I use a broken kitchen piece and hope it is non-toxic as intended to use with food. I know aluminium is very bad, has seen some notices about alzheimer and Al.

I have concidered the sponge soaked in NaCl, but prefere something dry. Maybe I should reconcider, as Na most likely will be the only metal ions that reach the skin if a new sponge is used for every session.

I made my needle holder of a ballpoint pen and choosen the OneTouch needle just because it’s availability on local mail order. I will now place an overseas order at TES for pro needles and want to get it right at the first time. P&p and other costs will probably amounts to more than the needles, not to mention the very long delivery time.

What I has picked up before from several sources blank needles should be better to use than insulated for pure galvanic, as they are easier to make an adequate insertion with. Pain is of no concern, I’m a rough TS that can take it. There are however some skin irritation, but it only lasts for a day or so if kept clean and fingers away.

Maybe a tapered .002 and a straight .003 should be the best choice? Is the specified diameter of a tapered needle the end point or soething else? BTW, it sounds a little strange that thicker needles should be better for fine hairs. Is there any explanation to that?
Is Ballet really the best make to buy? I have not found others than disposables by them and I will definitely reuse it and don’t want to pay for king size boxes. Maybe the reusables also are more durable and that is definitely a good thing.

Are the only advantages with gold plated needles that they are maybe easier to see and might cause less skinn irritation, or does the gold act as a cathalyst that boosts the treatment?

You should be OK using stainless steel for the anode. Most stainless steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Unless you are using a steel created for something exotic like jet engine turbine blades, there shouldn’t be anything toxic in kitchenware.

Do try the saline solution to keep the anode moist where it contacts the skin. It improves conductivity and should shorten your treatment time. It really works!

If you decide to use professional needles, do invest in a proper needle holder, as well. One might set you back $20-30 US, but it sounds a lot better than the holder you describe. A professional holder is easy to sterilize, just wipe it down with alcohol.

AS far as needle shapes, I can only comment on the Ballet needles I use. Starting at the shank, the needles taper towards the tip and appear to have a constant diameter for the last 2-3 mm. My electrologist and I agree that the slight taper of the needle helps to open the pore that surrounds the hair and makes removal a little easier after treatment.

The other style of needle that I have seen is made up of a wire crimped into a metal sleeve. These needles appear to have a constant diameter. I have heard that if the connection is not perfect, it can cause the elecrical current or RF (thermolysis) to vary or spike during treatment. This last part is anecdotal, however.

I use a new needle every time I work on myself and sterilze the whole works before I get started. You could reuse them, but be very careful to properly sterilze them before you use them again.

I find the insulated needles are a little more comfortable to use than the uninsulated ones. (I don’t process pain very well.) They apply the current to the base of the follicle, which is the area you want to treat.

I prefer using needles with a 0.002 diameter, they are a little more flexible and can bend enough to follow the hair down the follicle. I generally use the gold needles when treating thinner grey hairs that are hard to see. Gold needles are supposed to be better electrical conductors, but I have not noticed any difference. The gold on the needles does not work as a catalyst or enhance the galvanic reaction.

Stainless steel does not just contains carbon, that is ordinary steel. As far as I know there is always cromium present, as it is the cromium oxide that provide the protection. You may have seen the term 18/8-steel, that is 18% chromium and 8% nickel. The special steels You mention also contains some rare earth elements like molybdenum and cobalt.

There are also other alloys, some of them containing aluminium. Non-magnetic standard stainless steel is most probable the 18/8 alloy, but f.ex. the broken cheese slicer I has been using have som magnetism left. When trying out all pieces of stainless I found in my home that was the fact of all of them indicating they are made of an unkown alloy. There can also be conciderably amounts contaminants, remember we are using the materials in a way they was certinely not designed for.

I don’t want to stir up unfounded worries, but feel that this may have the potential to be a real issue. Stranger things have happened than belived harmless pracices has turned out to be in fact quite bad. Not only home made, but also the OneTouch and pro equipments may be concidered. Due to the very, very serious consequences of some metal poisoning and the quite long latency times involved before symptoms are seen, the issue is well worth to investigate in depth. The anode material seems to be a neglected concern on all sites I so far has found.

[ January 16, 2003, 07:06 AM: Message edited by: Marta ]

The pros recommend wrapping the anode rod in a moist disposable cloth, such as a baby wipe. That should insulate you from ion migration or dissolved metals.

You also can use electrode patches, but they’re on the pricey side.

I don’t know why you’d be afraid of dissolved metals leaching into your skin. It’s hard for me to understand how they’d cross the epidermis. Under any event, your gastrointestinal tract is much more permeable than your epidermis, so any issues anyone might have with dissolved metals would be far greater with cookware than with metal touching the skin.

Keep in mind, too, that stainless steel is used in materials, such as pins and screws, that are implanted in the body. Much more exposure there.


I’m worried about metals entering the bode because I don’t know enough to fully understand the risks.

Keep in mind that electrolysis is an unique situation, where an electric current is passed inty the body from the metal. That litterally rips metal ions out of the anode that then migrates into the body. All transport of electic currents through electrolytes are ions, not electrons as in a metal conductor. This situation is totally different from just beeing in contact with the metal.

It is not starting to feel sick and throw up I worries for, it is chronic metal poisening causing things like alzheimers disease and similair tings years and deccenniums later that worries me.

Before others reading this board get excited that electrolysis is pumping metals into their bodies:

At the cathode, electrons are provided that combine with the hydrogen in dissociated water molecules. Hydrogen gas is formed, leaving behind OH to react with the cells and destroy the tissue.

At the anode, electrons are removed, leaving behind chlorine gas from dissociated NaCl. The chlorine helps the metal dissolve – reacts with it to form metal chlorides – so people see pitting on the anode band. The electric potential presumably would push the metal ions toward the skin, but I don’t know how far they would get.

In any event, you make it sound like one metal atom is released for every electron that’s put in the body at the other end. That simply ain’t so.


P.S. This got me to wondering: Why isn’t the anode on an AC powered unit simply connected to ground?

“The electric potential presumably would push the metal ions toward the skin, but I don’t know how far they would get.”

It is the “don’t know how far they would get” that raises the concern. Maybe there are no reasons for worries, maybe there is. I have found no information on the Internet and think now are the right time to have that changed.

I definitely don’t want to stir up a panic, I just want some qualified professional answers before we are getting some oops! That has happened more than once regarding chemicals in our environment.

“P.S. This got me to wondering: Why isn’t the anode on an AC powered unit simply connected to ground?”

How should that complete the circuit, the client have no ground connection.

To clarify: “I don’t know” is an expression of skepticism. I don’t think there’s a lot of mobility across the epidermis. If there are metal ions they’ll be competing with a hell of a lot more sodium ions to get away from the anode.

Some things you might want to learn about: When the chlorine reacts with the metal in a positively charged solution, freeing metal atoms, do the atoms ionize? Or do they bond tightly with the chlorine? Also, how permeable is the epidermis to metal chlorides? Most of us bathe in metal chlorides every time we shower.

Even without completing the circuit, the cathode would still push electrons in until the whole body reaches the DC potential. One could do high voltage open circuit electrolysis. I wonder how effective it would be.