Top 8 answers to questions about static electricity, it stings

You get up one fine morning with your head full of questions and the salesman at the tobacconist can’t answer them. We feel alone, abandoned and lost until we decide to find the answers ourselves by investigating and multiplying experiences. All this happened to me two years ago and I decided to put my life on hold to seek answers. It cost me but I’m going to give them to you today and static electricity will have no more secrets for you.

1. What is it concretely?

To create electricity, as in a nuclear power plant, we will generally try to separate the electrons of an atom (which are charged with negative energy) from the nucleus of the latter (which is charged with positive energy). When some electrons separate from the nucleus they create an electric discharge since the balance of the atom is no longer neutral, its negative energy is no longer equal to its positive energy.

2. How is it made?

There are three types of static electricity:

– By friction: when certain materials come into contact and rub against each other, the atoms that compose them see their free electrons separate and hop, it makes electricity.

– By induction: by placing near an object charged with static electricity and a neutral object.

– By contact: by bringing two substances or materials together and observing the electric charges move.

3. Are certain materials more likely to create static electricity?

That’s right, very good question, I’m proud of you. Take for example any glass container and a piece of silk and rub them, you will see that you will create static electricity. Wax and wool have the same effect, just like rubbing a balloon on your hair.

4. Why does static electricity cause attraction?

It is because of the imbalance of positive and negative charges that different materials can find themselves attracted or repelled by each other. If you rub your hair on a balloon, they will be attracted by the material of the balloon until the charges are rebalanced, this is called electrification.

Top 8 answers to questions about static electricity, it stings
Photo credits (CC BY 2.0): Original image: Sean McGrath from Saint John, NB, Canada

5. Can it also create repulsion?

It is totally true. For example, rub silk on two glass tubes and try to stick the two tubes together, you will feel a resistance, as when you try to approach two magnets (but it is not at all the same phenomenon since magnets are not loaded).

You will get the same result with two pieces of wax, but on the other hand if you try with a piece of glass and wax they will attract each other. The experience goes even further: each material that will be attracted by the glass will be rejected by the wax and the same in the opposite direction. No matter is attracted or repelled by both, it is either one or the other.

6. Are some people less concerned than others?

Humidity is the worst enemy of static electricity, that’s why the phenomenon happens more often in winter than in summer since the air is drier and colder, which makes it more insulating. As a result, people with dry skin are more likely to be affected by static electricity, unlike those with oilier or moist skin. For once it serves to have oily skin, do not complain.

7. Are there clothing materials that favor the phenomenon?

If you wear synthetic materials or wool you will be much more likely to have juices by touching a doorknob, a chair or kissing someone, which is a reason enough to stop kissing once and for all.

8. Can static electricity be reduced?

Yes, but it’s not a super serious thing either. Avoid wearing wool or synthetic clothes, moisturize your skin, rub fabric softener wipes on your furniture, and put baking soda in your washing machine to act as a fabric softener. You can also touch a metal object that is in contact with the ground, such as a fence or a pole in the street to discharge electricity from your body.

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