SfC Home > Physics > Electricity > Static Electricity >

by Ron Kurtus

A total of 686 comments and questions have been sent in. They are listed according to date.

List of next 10 letters

Country

Electrostatic Induction Inducing static charges India

Basics of Static Electricity Experiment with Van de Graaff generator Canada

Basics of Static Electricity Why are TV screens dusty after a while? Tanzania

Static Cling Why does nylon crackle when I undress? Tanzania.

Reducing Static Electricity Shocks Husband gets shocks putting on t-shirt USA

Static Electricity Materials Do polyester clothes attract lightning? USA

Effect of Materials Protecting against sparks when filling a propane bottle USA

Effect of Materials Static electricity on wet skin India

Basics of Static Electricity Why does a fuel truck have a metal chain to the ground? Tanzania

Causes of Static Electricity Does a pacemaker cause static shocks? USA

Next 10

First 10 letters

Inducing static charges

Topic: Electrostatic Induction

Question

November 7, 2014

How can we induce static charge on plastic or on any diamagnetic substance ?
Can alpha or beta particles induce static charge ?

Henish - India

25510

By rubbing certain materials together, you can induce a static charge. See Effect of Materials on Static Electricity for a list.

An alpha particle is a Helium nucleus. It has a double positive (+) charge. However, it is usually a result of a radioactive decay.

Beta particles are electrons. They are certainly part of static electricity. Beta particles hitting a television screen induce static electricity on the screen,

Experiment with Van de Graaff generator

Topic: Basics of Static Electricity

Question

October 13, 2014

This is a question regarding static electricity. here is my theory question scenario: Take a van de graff ball, and attached a long insulator to either case 1 the ball (positive charge) or case 2 the lower electrode (negative charge). With either case if I took the insulator and submerged into water (with the generator still running to generate charge) would the static charge remain on the insulator in any of the cases or would the water absorb the charge before there could be a build up of charge. I am not going to try this out that is why I am asking.

Thanks!

25446

That sound like an interesting experiment. My thoughts on it are as follows:

An insulator can collect electrical charges on its surface like from a Van de Graaff generator, but it doesn't really conduct the charges like a metal wire would do. Pure water is also an insulator. Slightly salty water will conduct electricity.

If you submerged the insulator in water, and it had a collection of charges on its surface, most of the charges would probably be released into the water.

I don't think it would be dangerous to try this, since a Van de Graaf generator puts out high voltages but very low current.

Why are TV screens dusty after a while?

Topic: Basics of Static Electricity

Question

September 17, 2014

why are TV screens dusty after a while?

mahamed - Tanzania

25361

When the electrons from inside the TV screen hit the surface, they collect charges on the screen. Those charges will attract dust particles and cause them to stick. The newer LCD or flat panel screens do not have that much of a problem.

Why does nylon crackle when I undress?

Topic: Static Cling

Question

September 17, 2014

why nylon cloths crackle as undressed?

mahamed - Tanzania.

25362

When nylon rubs against the skin, it creates static electricity. The crackling you hear is caused by tiny static sparks coming from the nylon material.

Husband gets shocks putting on t-shirt

Topic: Reducing Static Electricity Shocks

Question

September 2, 2014

Would an anti-static electricity release discharger work on my husband?? For some inexplicable reason his body is full of static electricity!! He cannot put on a cotton t-shirt without seeing sparks--it is VERY weird. There is no pain or actual shocks involved but he has eczema and he cannot wear the t-shirts!! We live on the beach in FL so I don't think it is a dry air issue even though our apt is air conditioned. We have wood and stone floors--no carpets. We are flummoxed! Any advice or explanations would be most appreciated.

linda - USA

25330

The usual reason for often getting shocks is very dry skin. Your husband's eczema is probably a factor. However, I'm surprised that 100% cotton t-shirts would result in sparks.

The anti-static electricity release dischargers are relatively inexpensive, so it might be worth trying. Also, take a look at Controlling Static Cling to see ways to treat the t-shirts. It may help.

Best wishes on finding a solution to this annoying problem. Let me know how things turn out.

Do polyester clothes attract lightning?

Topic: Static Electricity Materials

Question

August 30, 2014

Do polyester clothes attract the most dangerous and unpredictable positively charged lightning referred to as blue lightning?

Jerry - USA

25328

The combination of polyester clothes rubbing on your skin creates a collection of electrical charges. I suppose if two people were standing in a field during a storm, the one wearing polyester clothes would be more apt to be struck by lightning than the person wearing cotton clothes. However, I don't believe there has ever been an experiment validating that, using non-human objects.

Lightning is very unpredictable and strikes often don't follow "the rules" or logic.

Protecting against sparks when filling a propane bottle

Topic: Effect of Materials

Question

August 27, 2014

Hi. I am a hot air balloon pilot and coordinate a safety seminar yearly. I am interested in the article I found, Materials that Cause Static Electricity by Ron Kurtus. and it led me to your email.

Balloonists are very concerned with static electricity and sparks when we are refueling our propane tanks. On your list of items that gain electrons is leather. On the list that lose them is hard rubber. My interest is this: many, many pilots use leather gloves while refueling and the hoses are all of a rubber type. What is the potential for sparking with this combination?

Also, is there an easy way to demonstrate this to a group at a seminar?

Dawn - USA

25325

I don't think there would be enough static electricity generated by simply holding a rubber hose with a leather glove. The motion of the propane, as well as extraneous charges would be more of the hazard.

Just like gasoline trucks ground their hoses, that technique would probably be the best to use. In fact, both the hose and the person could be grounded.

See Controlling Static Electricity for some ideas and pictures.

I hope this helps with this safety concern.

Static electricity on wet skin

Topic: Effect of Materials

Question

July 9, 2014

Dear, your article entitled "Materials that Cause Static Electricity" is very useful. I want to know that what would be the charge on normal and wet human skin? How wettability or dryness get affects the skin charge?

Basant - India

25100

Water or wetness can reduce the effect of static electricity. A good example is how dry hair can get charged when being combed. But if the hair is wet or oily, the charges are not effective.

Since there are so many variables, there really aren't any numbers on the effect of wetness on the skin. However, it would be a good experiment to test and measure the difference in static electricity on dry and wet skin.

Why does a fuel truck have a metal chain to the ground?

Topic: Basics of Static Electricity

Question

May 13, 2014

why a car with a tank carring petrol always hang a metal chain which is touching the ground?

mahamed - Tanzania

24953

When the fuel in the tank moves around, it can create static electricity. The metal chain is used to drain off the electrical charges to the ground. Otherwise a spark might fly when someone tried to drain the fuel, resulting in an explosion.

Does a pacemaker cause static shocks?

Topic: Causes of Static Electricity

Question

March 28, 2014

Does having a pacemaker cause you to have static schocks? I get really bad ones where sometimes I actually see sparks..
Thanks,
MA

Miriam - USA

24822

The pacemaker should not cause shocks. However, if you are prone to getting static shocks, you need to make sure your pacemaker is not damaged by the sparks. Usually, they are well insulated.

Dry skin is one of the greatest causes of static sparks and shocks. Also, some polyester materials can cause static electricity.

Next 10

Summary

Hopefully, this reader feedback has helped provide information about Static Electricity issues.

Resources and references

The following are some resources on this topic.

Websites

Static Electricity Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Static Electricity

Top-rated books on Electrostatics

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Where are you now?

School for Champions

Electricity topics

Also see

Let's make the world a better place

Be the best that you can be.

Use your knowledge and skills to help others succeed.

Don't be wasteful; protect our environment.