Static Electricity, The Hair and Skin?
We have all experienced the effects of static energy: Getting a shock while closing a car door; After walking over a floor or carpet then getting zapped on a conductive surface such as tap, radiator or door knob. or when taking off your jumper. You might get cracking sounds when you comb or brush the hair with a nylon or plastic brush – and you’ll notice how much hair is pulled out! High levels of static, not only induce hair loss and skin trouble but can also impact on our health, so it is useful to understand the phenomenon.
What is static electricity?
Although we can’t see this static energy, it is a high voltage electrical energy field which surrounds us, clings to us and moves around with us. We notice it the most when we get an get an electrostatic shock – We can both hear, feel and sometimes see the spark, as a stream of electrons moves rapidly from our charged hair or skin to a conducting surface. Even the tiniest spark is about 500 volts. A longer spark can measure several thousand volts and burn a tiny hole in the skin. Lightning is electro-static discharge on a much larger scale.
Static charges form when different materials come into contact or even when they rub together. The charges separate when the objects are separated and then moves with the separated objects. One obect with have a negative charge and the other will be charged with the positive polarity. The charge accumulates on the skin or the hair as the inside of body has a fairly high resistance.
Examples of Static in Everyday Life
Static from Transport
Take the following scenario. We driving the car. The clothing, skin and seat are all rubbing together and working as a static (triboelectric) generator. Both the body and the seat are insulating surfaces and as we exit the vehicle we are taking one polarity of the charge with us, while the other polarity of charge stays in the driver’s seat. On getting out of a car after driving in nylon clothes, the skin voltage can have reached 21,000 volts, in wool clothes 9000 volts and cotton, some 7000 volts. No wonder it is easy to get a static shock when closing or locking the vehicle door.
Static at Home
Typically when walking on a vinyl floor, each time the soul of a rubberized shoe makes contact with the floor, it draws up negative electrons and leave a positive charge in each footprint. With a bit of scuffing and sliding the next person or large metal object you touch will get zapped. It is easy to reach a charge of 12,000 volts! Walking over a synthetic carpet can leave you charged with 35,000 volts. One solution is to go barefoot, to wear leather, suede or vegetable fibre soled slippers indoors or to change to a natural flooring surface.
Static at Work
Hospitals and industrial building / structures must be designed so that the static discharges do not cause explosions and workers with sensitive electrical and computer equipment must wear grounding devises so that the static does not cause circuit boards to short out.
If you comb your hair with a nylon comb or brush you can hear the crackling sound of static and the hair can become quite unmanageable. As the nylon comb has been stroked through the hair, electrons from the hair have moved to the comb. Hair will be pulled out by the comb because the comb will gain an negative charge and the hair, having lost its electrons is left with a positive charge. Because opposites polarities form an attractive force and charges of the same polarity form a repulsive force, the hair will be attracted strongly to the comb. Each hair now has a positive charge and each hair repels the other similarly charged hairs, sending the individual hairs apart in all directions. Not only is it unmanageable, some of it is lost to the plastic comb!
Home Experiments with Static!
In my video on a Horn and Plastic Comb Comparison, (coming soon) you will see that the plastic comb carries enough charge after combing my hair to pick up a feather. By comparison the horn comb leaves the feather just where it is. You can try this at home. It works best in a dry room.
Another way to show how plastic combs grabs electrons is to charge the comb again by combing the hair until it is static and flyaway. Now hold the comb next to a small continuous stream of water. The comb will alter the path of the water. By comparison, the horn comb has no influence over the trajectory of the water – the charge of the horn comb did not alter as it was drawn through the hair.
What is the Impact of Static on our Health?
With this accumulation of charge on the skin, subtle electrical processes in the body within each body cell, the brain, the heart, every part of the body is altered, including skin and hair health. Little tiny parts of the body use electrical signals, but they are measure in millivolts, even the walls of each cell retain their integrity due to miniscule electrical impulses.
Carrying high voltage static around with us can cause malaise and disturb the body. More and more people are reporting symptoms of Electromagnetic Hypersensistivity (ES) or (EHS). Many people have the sensitivity to some degree, especially when the electro-magnetic pollution is taken into account. Electomagnetic pollution is caused by Wifi, microwaves, mobiles, TV, fluorescent lighting etc.
Electromagnetic energies are emanated by electrical devises, but here we are just discussing Static Electric, caused by contact / movement of different surfaces together. Both electro-magnetic and static of energy have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing and contribute toward ES.
What Can You Do to Reduce Your Body Levels of Static?
Introduce more humidity to heated rooms by airing the room each day. Even in the winter it is good to open the windows for ten minutes a day to air each room.
It is also great keeping lots of houseplants which also detoxify and humidify the air in the house and they look so wonderful.
Try to favour clothing made from natural textiles which tend to absorb humidity and accumulate reduced charges compared to synthetic textiles.
Consider carefully what you wear on your feet. It is best to choose conductive, rather than insulating soles.
Take time to go outside everyday and use natural techniques for grounding the body.
Use a horn comb for the hair! Horn combs do not collect electrons or alter the charge of the hair because they are the same material as the hair, keratin and no charge is induced with contact between materials of the same type. Beside reducing hair loss, reducing static and flyaway hair, there are many more reasons to use a horn comb and you are invited to read about them on the Horn Comb product page.
Balance the Wash / Conditioning of the Hair. Be aware that hair conditioners often contain synthetic anti-static agents. You can make a natural hair conditioner from Scottish Seaweed which has some natural anti-static properties!
Body / Skin
Try the Body Ionic Brush, which has bristles of copper and horse hair on the skin to remove any charges from the skin surface. The brush delivers negative ions which are massively important for health and wellbeing and neutralizes charges on the body surface. Also one or two strokes with this ionic brush, can give electrons to the hair and calm intensely flyaway hair.
A full brushing of the body with the ionic body brush is a profoundly healthy routine and due to the movement of lymph fluid which is also very electrically conductive, even brushing on the skin surface has deep effect further in the body!
Wash the face and body in Rhassoul Clay which has natural anti-static and static dispersing properties.
Laundry and Cleaning
Fabric conditioner and many cleaners contain synthetic anti-static chemicals. We prefer to wash the clothes in soapnuts which have some natural anti-static properties! Soapnuts can also be used for many household cleaning tasks.
I hope that you enjoyed learning about static and that you will get a chance to do your own experiments. Who knows, you might be the next Tesla, finding ways of harvesting of all this free static energy!
More detail, if you are still awake, or if you really, really want to know more!
What Causes Static Charges to Separate?
The core of atoms are made up with protons and neutrons. Protons have a positive charge and neutrons are without charge. Around the centre of the atom are series of shells containing electrons spinning in layered orbits, called shells. The electrons have a negative charge. The electrons in the outer shell are often mobile.
If the atom is composed in such a way the there is room for further electrons in the outer shell, nearby electrons will take up orbit in the shell and the atom will be more stable. Equally, there are atoms which are willing to give up electrons from their outer shell. Depending on which atom any specific material is composed, the material has have a tendency to either donate or accept electrons. Only contact or friction is necessary for these Olympics to go on.
When electrons are lost from a material, the material will be left with a positive charge. Conversely when a material accepts electrons, the material may take on a negative charge.
What Materials are Involved in Charge Separation?
Materials are arranged in hierarchical series, called the Triboelectric Series. This list shows the propensity of materials to donate electrons nearer to the top with those materials willing to accept electrons near the bottom. It is not the full list! This flow of electrons happens when the different materials are in contact or are rubbing together.
The top of the series
Rabbit fur (also Cat fur)
Hair and Oily Skin
Dry Skin and Nylon
Cotton other vegetable fibres ( these materials wick humidity and so reduce the accumulation of static, because moisture conducts static and it flows away)
Materials from the top of the series give up their electrons readily, meaning they acquire a positively charged field. Rabbit fur is known for being left with a strong positive charge after being rubbed with a material lower down the scale such as wool or more so plastic.
The middle of the series
Lower down the series
Latex (Natural Rubber)
These materials gain electrons readily.
The further apart the materials are on the triboelectric series, the more static or charge separation is created. Unless this field is discharged on a conducting surface, the invisible static field clings around our body and moves around with us. Because static is conducted away by moisture in the air, we are more likely to get static shocks in dry environments and on days with low humidity.
Notice that fur is very high up the triboelectric series. The more active the rabbit or cat, the dryer the day, the less it washes, the more likely the fur is to accumulate a high positive charge. Cats are very prone to getting shocks from static discharge and if I was a cat, I would dread being combed with anything comb made with materials which would cause static. I would insist on being combing with a horn comb!
Please note that my explanation is on a very basic level and physics and quantum science offers more sophisticated and compelling adventures about energy, electrons, sub atomic particles quantum energy and waveforms!