Archive for the ‘Lens’ Category.

Will It Lens? Temperature Breakthrough!

In case you missed it, here are the other parts of the Will It Lens? series. I know I haven’t updated in a while, and I’ve got a huge backlog of pictures. So, part will be discussed here and I already have enough for another post as well.

Remember that all the safety warnings from the other posts in the series still apply here, though I don’t have anything new to add. Thanks for all the suggestions you’ve given us; we’ve tried some, and there have been quite a few good ones!

Improvements to our setup and more pictures of results →

Will It Lens? Table of Contents

Welcome, all! Here are links to everything in the “Will It Lens?” series.

  • Part 1: introduction, melting pennies, dimes, toothpaste, Tylenol, milk, chalk, gourd, can.
  • Part 2: equipment upgrades, CDs, disposable silverware, brass penny, burned pennies.
  • Part 3 (Food Edition): popcorn, grape, kumquat, Frosted Mini Wheat, jelly beans, Reese’s Pieces.
  • Part 4: wood, quarter, soap, dishwasher detergent, bacon, egg, honey, seashell, almonds, gummy bears, M&Ms.
  • Part 5 (Temperature Breakthrough): marshmallow, peeps, copper, iron, sand, glass
  • More to come soon eventually!
  • Gallery of all pictures: This contains every picture we took. There’s a lot of junk in here; the good pictures are in the blog posts above.


  1. Can you melt glass?

    This surprised us, but yes! Normal glass is more properly called “sodalime glass,” which has a much lower melting point than pure silicon dioxide (which we originally thought glass was made of, and which we haven’t been able to melt yet). However, we have trouble melting clear things because they don’t absorb the sunlight. Nonetheless, we melted a dark brown glass in part 5.

  2. Can you melt sand?

    Kinda. The sand we tried is a mixture of quartz, feldspar, and iron. We can melt the last two, but we haven’t melted quartz yet. Look at part 5 for more details.

  3. Can you lens electronics?

    We probably could, but we don’t want to because the fumes are really noxious. There’s lead and other stuff that’s terrible for your lungs in there.

  4. Can you use a second lens to focus the light even more?

    No, that’s not how optics works. For a slightly more thorough answer, see the Light Sharpener FAQ over at

  5. Where did you get the lens? How much did it cost?

    I think we got it from here. When we ordered it, I think it was about $120, plus shipping. If you include the wood for the frame and stand, the welding goggles, and the skillet, we’ve probably spent over $200 on lens-related stuff so far.

  6. You should lens something that will burst and explode all over the place!

    That would be very entertaining, but we need to clean everything up before lunch is over, so we’re not doing anything too messy in the foreseeable future (no unopened pop cans, no aerosols, etc.). If we ever take the lens out to the middle of the desert, we will consider lensing messy things.

  7. You should lens an iPhone, iPod, or other hip status symbol.

    First, see question 3 about electronics. Then, remember that we’re paying for all of this with our own money. We’d prefer not to lens anything that costs more than a couple dollars. Everything we’ve tried so far has cost under $1 each (almost everything is under $0.25 each).

  8. Isn’t it illegal to destroy money?

    Not unless you do it with the intent to defraud someone. Remember the last time you went to the zoo? You probably saw one of those machines that will take your penny, flatten it out, and stamp an image of a penguin or something on it as a souvenir. Melting a penny is no more illegal than one of those machines.

Other articles that link to this series:

Will It Lens? Part 4

If you’ve missed it, here are parts one, two, and three of our adventures with a 4’x3′ fresnel lens, along with a gallery of all the pictures.

Our lens arrived with a corner chipped off, so the lens company sent us a second one for free (which also had its corner chipped off on arrival, but we didn’t get a third for free). I’ve been holding off writing this post because I was hoping to title it “Episode IV: A New Lens,” but we still haven’t built the frame for the second lens or the frame for the mirrors that will reflect light from both lenses onto a single point. So, instead of waiting for that to happen, I’m posting the results I’ve already got.

The same SAFETY NOTES as before apply, as always. In lieu of new safety warnings (we haven’t had any new dangers come up!), I’ve got a few tips for anyone trying to duplicate this. Some tips for fellow lensers, followed by more pictures of results →

Will It Lens? Food Edition

If you missed it, here’s part 1 and part 2 of our adventures with a 4’x3′ fresnel lens. As always, I’ve got a gallery of all the raw pictures, and this is a summary of the good ones.

The same SAFETY NOTES as before apply, with the addition that you shouldn’t eat any food you cooked in the same skillet in which you just cooked non-edible things (plastics, coins, etc). Also, we’ve upgraded our welding goggles, from a shade 5 filter to a shade 12, which is actually good enough that you can stare at stuff in the focal point. It’s not quite good enough to stare directly at the sun, but it’s darn close, and rumor has it that you can watch sunspots through this thing if you don’t look at them too long.

Last time, I left you with a picture of popcorn getting ready to be lensed. More results with more pictures →

Will It Lens? Part 2

In case you missed it, here’s part 1 of our adventures with the 3’x4′ fresnel lens.

Oh, man. I have lots more pictures. The same SAFETY NOTE as last time applies again, but with a few more additions. You should probably wash your hands after you’re done handling stuff in the lens. In particular, when you heat copper up until it turns black, you’ve probably made copper (II) oxide, which is a somewhat nasty irritant. I also make no guarantees about how many carcinogens we’ve made/touched/breathed, although so far I still feel healthy (no cancer in the past week!). Speaking of health hazards, if you use a frying pan to hold stuff, make sure it doesn’t have a Teflon non-stick coating! That coating will burn away and become a huge safety hazard (it’s mainly fluorine, and most fluorine compounds are toxic, volatile, and several other kinds of nasty; quite a few fluorine compounds were used as chemical weapons and precursors to sarin nerve gas, so avoid it at all costs). We got a cast-iron skillet, which is reasonably safe and inert, and it doesn’t melt until we break 1800K, which is very unlikely with our current setup.

Anyway, on to the results. with more pictures, of course. →

Will It Lens?

A couple weeks ago, Dustin got a whole bunch of people to each contribute a few dollars, and we bought a four foot by three foot fresnel lens. It arrived earlier this week, and we’ve been spending our lunch hours out in the sun playing with it.

Explanation of the lens and safety note, followed by more pictures →