Physics and Chemistry

Electricity and Magnetism

Why is static electricity greater in winter than summer?

Static electricity results from an imbalance between negative and positive charges in an object. Most of the time the positive and negatives charges in an object are balanced, meaning the object is neutral; it is neither positively nor negatively charged. When the charges build up on an object, they must find a way to be released or transferred to restore the balance between negative and positive charges. During the winter, the air has very little water vapor in it and is dry. In the summer, the air contains more water vapor; the humidity is greater. Water is an electrical conductor allowing electrons to move from one object to another more easily. The humidity in the summer air allows extra electrons on charged objects to leak off into the air and attach to objects that have too few electrons. The dry air in the winter makes it more difficult for the extra electrons to leak off an object so static electricity, with its characteristic shock or spark, is more common.


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