Electricity is in the air!

The weather, cold and dry, increases the number of “discharges”. Explanations

Static electricity, quèsaco?

Electricity does not only come from our batteries, sockets or electricity meters. It’s present everywhere. In nature, matter is made up of atoms. These atoms have a nucleus – positively charged – around which electrons move – negatively charged. There are also neutrons, but we’re not talking about that. Positive charges, also known as protons (which make up the nucleus) and negative charges (also known as electrons, which orbit this nucleus) are usually present in equal amounts. This is called an electrically neutral set.

Except that the friction of certain materials between them causes electrons to be ripped from one material to another. Some materials tend to donate electrons (synthetic fabrics, wool or glass) while others attract them (ebonite, rubber, PVC…). The second material, which receives the electrons from the first, will somewhere overdose on electrons and be negatively charged, while the first material will be electron deficient and charged up…with static electricity. This is manifested by a small electrical discharge, which corresponds to the passage of electrons to the positively charged body! This small shock corresponds to a discharge of 20 to 30 kilovolts. Not enough to doze off an ox, but we feel it passing, as we say at home…

Why is static electricity so much more present these days?

It’s all about humidity. In the last few days it has certainly been very cold, but above all very dry. However, dry air slows the transfer of electrons and therefore encourages juice shots. In contrast to summer, when humid air facilitates the transfer of electrons, electric shocks are less frequent and, above all, less intense…

In fact, dry winter air is a better insulator, meaning it isolates more electrons, which must accumulate in larger quantities to cross the insulating barrier. This explains why tremors are stronger in winter.

Are some people more electric than others?

Without a doubt! We all have different levels of epidermal resistance. However, the skin is the first human insulator… A person with dry skin is more susceptible to small static shocks than a person with oily skin. The same goes for a person with very fine hair. The material of our clothes also plays a role: synthetic fabrics and wool emit electrons more easily and are therefore to be avoided, while natural materials such as 100% cotton limit “chestnuts”.

What do we do to avoid the juice shots?

There are many tricks. The easiest way: put a paper clip in one of our pockets. The metal charges up and prevents you from electrocuting yourself if you come into contact with a conductive material. Another alternative: moisten! Either the air or your clothes. Or both.

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