Extract Your Own DNA

  • By Anna Rothschild
  • Posted 02.29.12
  • NOVA

Ever wish you could see the strands of genetic material that make you...you? You can, and there's no fancy lab equipment required. In this NOVA video short, learn how to extract your own DNA using just a few common household items.

Running Time: 02:45


Extract Your Own DNA

Posted: March 1, 2012

NOVA Presents: D.I.Y. Science

How to Extract Your Own DNA


(Image of bottled water, clear dish soap, food coloring, table salt, and 70% isopropyl alcohol)

And… you!

Step 1: Mix 500 ml drinking water with 1 tbsp salt

Step 2: Stir until salt is dissolved. Then transfer 3 tbsp of salt water into a clear cup.

Step 3: Gargle the salt water for 1 minute.

Step 4: Spit the water back into the cup. Now your cheek cells are suspended in the salt water.

Step 5: Gently stir the salt water with one drop of soap. (Avoid bubbles as much as possible).

Note: Soap breaks down the cell membranes, releasing the DNA.

Step 6: In a separate cup, mix 100 ml isopropyl alcohol and 3 drops of food coloring.

Step 7: Tilt the salt water cup and gently pour the alcohol so that it forms a layer on top (about 2 cm thick).

Step 8: Wait about 2.5 minutes. You should see white clumps and strings forming.

(Image of strings and clumps of DNA)

That's your DNA!


Production Credits

Video short produced and edited by
Anna Rothschild
Production help from
Deepa Rao
Original Footage
© WGBH Educational Foundation


(plastic cups)
© WGBH Educational Foundation
(nails and screws)
© xxmmxx/istockphoto

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