# Can I use ionized gas to make an electric arc at low voltage?

I am exploring what electricity can do and I have a question.
First, can I use ionized gas to make an electric arc at low current?
Second, If I can do this, what kind of ionized gas could I use (that is bottled), can I use?

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Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
I don't believe an arc will form with low current. It is the current itself that is causing the arc by flowing through the ionized air and heating it up, causing it to glow brightly.

davenn
Gold Member
2019 Award
I don't believe an arc will form with low current. It is the current itself that is causing the arc by flowing through the ionized air and heating it up, causing it to glow brightly.
it will if the voltage is high enough :)

just think of a Van de Graff generator or Tesla coil. both work on the principles of very low current and very high voltage
or even the discharge of static electricity as you rub your feet across the carpet and discharge via your finger tip to the door knob

Dave

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
it will if the voltage is high enough :)

just think of a Van de Graff generator or Tesla coil. both work on the principles of very low current and very high voltage
or even the discharge of static electricity as you rub your feet across the carpet and discharge via your finger tip to the door knob

Dave
True, but does the same apply to already ionized gas? Of course this begs the question, how did you ionize the gas in the first place and keep it ionized? Also, aren't Tesla Coils and similar devices very high on the Peak Power, meaning that the current is actually very high during the arc?

davenn
Gold Member
2019 Award

he seems to be under the impression you can buy pre-ionised gas
As far as Im aware this is physically impossible

physics3456
it is the high voltage potential across a sparkgap within a gas that causes ionisation of the gas. When the breakdown voltage is reached there is a discharge across the sparkgap (through the gas) that results in the ionisation of the gas.

From reading other posts over time on this forum, there seems to be a bit of discussion as to what happens first, the discharge or the ionisation.
The ionisation does provide an easier path for current to flow as with a lightning strike, say between cloud and ground. Tho you dont need ionisation for current to flow .... as in a vacuum tube. But you do need the presence of an ionised gas to see a spark

thats the way I understand it ;)

maybe one of our mentors will chime in

Dave