DIY: Extract your own DNA

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Always wanted to be able to do what scientists do? Now you can with this trick. With some kitchen supplies and your own saliva, you can isolate your own DNA.
Isolating DNA is also part of our process of analyzing your DNA. Of course, we use some other methods which are a lot cleaner and more reliable.

If you try this at home, please sent us pictures or videos! We plan on trying this at the office as well. Looks like a lot of fun! Just follow the guide and you can be a scientist as well.

What do you need?

  • A clean shot glass
  • Saliva
  • Dish soap
  • Table salt
  • Pineapple juice (or meat tenderizer, or cleaning solution for contact lenses)
  • Chilled alcohol (120 proof or higher)—we used high-proof rum
  • Drinking straw
  • Toothpick

 

Ok, got it, now what?

  • Spit into the shot glass until it's a quarter full of your saliva. (If you're having trouble salivating, imagine you're sucking a lemon-flavored candy.) The saliva is laden with cells, shed from your cheeks and mouth lining, which are full of DNA.
  • Add a few drops of dish soap. This will break open the cells, a process called "lysing."
  • Add a tiny splash of pineapple juice. This will clean up some of the proteins that have spilled out of your cells alongside your DNA.
  • Add a pinch of salt. This causes the DNA to start clumping together.
  • Swirl the shot glass to mix the ingredients.
  • Gently fill the rest of the shot glass with the high-proof alcohol, which should be in a layer on top of the mixture. To prevent it from mixing too much, you can add the alcohol gradually with a drinking straw: Put the straw into the alcohol, cap it with your finger, hold the straw right over the liquid in the shot glass, and release.
  • Use a toothpick to spool up the cloudy, snot-like material that has formed in the glass. This is your DNA— a gross result of some cool science.

 

Look here to see where this awesome idea came from and to see an extra instruction video.

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