Electricity Pain verus Frequency

Electricity hurts, but differently when you add more hertz:

The hurting from electricity depends on a few factors, like body resistance (from skin thickness, tissue type, humidity), electricity level, duration and frequency. Less resistance, higher level and duration all hurt more. But how does frequency effect the hurtage (I claim that a word! If you use it enough, MS Word won’t show those red wiggly lines underneath it).

I had some past experience where DC hurt less than AC due to body capacitance and super high frequency wouldn’t hurt like low frequency. But here I investigated in more details by applying 4Vrms (AC) voltage across my tong at different frequencies.

One important thing I noticed was that around 22Hz, the lights around me started to flicker. This was an indication that the voltage on my tong was effecting my vision, which would mean the electricity was actually spreading further in my head than I thought. So don’t try this kids! It would cause brain damage… ah, for some reason I can’t stop drooling…

I assume that frequency was likely vibrating my eye muscles causing my eyes to shake mildly, which would make me see lights flickering. Otherwise it should be electricity messing with my optic nerves, but I think the first reason is more likely.

In any case, the experiment is done and the following plot was obtained, by measuring my hand location in screen and plot it against the frequency at that hand height.

Human Electricity Pain Level versus Frequency

Human Electricity Pain Level versus Frequency

The discomfort starts at DC (0 Hz) and starts rising, kind of linearly to around 2kHz, and from there drops to zero around 20kHz.

The muscles contract by electricity. At small frequencies they move muscles back and forth, which feels like twitching. You have the same feeling when your eye lids twitch from being tired. This vibration rises at 10 to 100Hz when you feel like you are being shocked, and feel that shocking buzz in your body. That buzz comes from frequency. But above 100Hz your nerves fail to pick up the frequency (they can’t response that fast) and also your muscles won’t be able to keep up with the vibration speed. And so you feel like a DC cramp in your muscles.The pain is increasing as the frequency rises. I can assume this is because of the body capacitance, which at higher frequency causes more current to pass through body and so hurts more.

Above 2kHz the pain starts to reduce. That could be for a few reasons:

  • Human body capacitance drops in value
  • Human body inductance increases allowing less current
  • Current flows more and more at the surface due to Skin Effect
  • Nerves and muscles stop responding to high frequency

So there you have it. I don’t know if this plot has any use. But I leave it to the crowd and maybe someone can make a brake-through in science based on this! If you do, I want my name in the credits!

24 thoughts on “Electricity Pain verus Frequency

  1. I have passed electricity through my body and experienced a similar eye distortion. Even small dc voltages makes your vision darker. No idea why but that is what I discovered 🙂

  2. Hi,

    Nice experiment, may be the main reason for this is the self resonant frequency of the “body’s capacitance”, so at certain frequency the impedance is at its lowest which would allow more current.

    Hooking current meter could confirm this , but you’ll have to repeat the experiment again 😛 🙂


  3. Kids, do NOT try this at home.
    No, really — people die from things like this.
    And, OP writer, if you’re doing these experiments alone, without a partner to keep an eye on you, you’re elevating the risk level ny at least a couple orders of magnitude.

  4. I have fun with, result in I found exactly what I used to be taking a look for.
    You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.

  5. I’ve got to say, I’ve taken my share of shocks, and they all hurt.
    I’ve taken 12 KV from a Static Gun, 120 VAC @ 400 Hz (that’s cycles per second), 20 KV or so from a spark plug wire and 450 V DC from an undischarged cap. I don’t care to repeat ANY of them, but the absolute worst was the DC, and that was only on a small area of my hand. I can’t begin to describe the pain involved in that one.
    I will say that 120 @ 400 Hz is MUCH more painful than 120 @ 60 Hz.
    Personally, I think you are totally crazy to intentionally engage in these shocks, even for educational purposes. And yeah, you *really* should be wearing eye protection. I’d be much more inclined to believe you were doing this educationally if you were wearing goggles or safety glasses. Without them, you just look like an idiot who is too stupid to work with electricity.

    • He is doing these videos for education purposes but he has to entertain the viewers somehow. I think that, even that he does not show it, he does some research about how to do these things without getting killed or major injuries.

    • Errrrm how in the world is wearing goggles going to protect him? From what ? Maybe he should wear a fire protection suit ya know like they use for volcanoes and obviously a welding mask in case of any stray arcs ! Big pair of industrial rubber gloves too would help. Maybe he should go off grid when doing something so dangerous good chance he could blow the entire system when drawing so much current !!!!!

  6. But what’s your pain response if you repeat the experiment, after resting up, but sweeping the frequency in the opposite direction? (Heck, you *should* have an assistant hit you with randomly selected frequencies without ever telling you what the input is. Blinded studies FTW)

      • Thanks. You have let me know my memory about this is wrong.
        I have heard the municipal electric power is dangerous because its frequency, not its voltage. I have searched why, and one answer is it is close to heart beat rate. Maybe the answer think Hz is cycle per minute. And I’m not familiar with Hz.
        If the frequency is more low or high, the death rate of people of getting an electric shock will more low. But there will be some other problems about energy efficiency if the frequency gets low or high.

        frequency / death rate
        10 Hz / 21%
        25 Hz / 70%
        50 Hz / 95%
        60 Hz / 91%
        80 Hz / 43%
        100 Hz / 34%
        120 Hz / 31%
        200 Hz / 22%
        500 Hz / 14%
        1000 Hz / 11%
        It’s from an animal test, and I don’t know its voltage.

        • The depth of your ignorance and your willingness to display it is truly astonishing. I considered for a second that I might try and educate you but have decided it’s just not worth it. This guy’s site gives you everything you need to know about electricity.

  7. Hi, ElectroBoom.
    -First, sorry for my English, I’m Italian and i’m eighteen years. 🙂
    -I follow you on youtube much and I’m interested to your experiments, i want to try give way a HighFrequency AC, Low current and High Voltage through the body to turn on a light bulb. This is a old experiment of Tesla.
    What do you think about?

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