How can one measure the numbers of protons or electrons (the atomic number) in a substance?

Like if the element I examine is carbon I expect the result to be 6.

Preferable a simple experiment which can be done in the kitchen with kids attending (cheap and safe). Any atoms will do. A mass spectrometry is not available.


Moseley measured the atomic number in 1913 with relatively modest equipment (by modern standards) but I doubt that you could reproduce his experiments in a typical kitchen.

Atomic number at Wikipedia

Expansion as suggested in comments.

Here is a quote from that article of what he did.

"Moseley measured the wavelengths of the innermost photon transitions (K and L lines) produced by the elements from aluminum (Z = 13) to gold (Z = 79) used as a series of movable anodic targets inside an x-ray tube."

It might be just possible at home if you really knew what you were doing but I doubt that it would be cheap or safe. What is regarded as safe has probably changed a lot in the last 100 years.

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