By Mussa Charles , 6th December 2018

Static electricity

There is a myth that at some point static electricity is caused by friction.

Why many people believe on this myth?

I also admit that before doing a simple research online I used to believe on this myth. I think the reasons which made me believe it is true back then might be a bit similar to most of those who still believe this is true.

Reasons that caused me to believe on this myth

Physics Books experiments, When I was in high school, I studied about static electricity and there are experiments which shows various ways on which static electricity can be produced. There is one experiment which says we can charge bodies due to friction. However the real reason here is not friction it is the adhesive force which increases due to that friction, this force causes electrons to be attracted to the more positive material between the two materials which are being rubbed together.

A small electric shock caused by rubbing clothes on winter season, I think this is experienced by many people. Sometimes when we put on our heavy winter jackets and suddenly rub them after a long walking distance outside the winter cold we experience the annoying small electric shock. This made me believe that friction causes the electric charges to be generated. However as mentioned above this is not the reason for static electricity to be generated.

Rubbing plastic materials on hair or wool subtances and causes small pieces of papers to be attracted to it, Another reason which made me believe that this myth is true was when I was in middle school, rubbing plastic hair combs on wool materials or hair was causing pieces of papers to be attracted. This was another static electricity which was being caused by adhesive force and not friction as it seemed.

I believe there are many other reasons which make people believe on this myth that friction is the source of friction.

What experts say?

There are number of studies or experiments done by proffesionals can help to completely remove this myth. For instance our houses are grounded to prevent bad effects of lighting during rain seasons.

Benjamin Franklin introduced lighting rod in 1750, his experiment involved flowing a kite beneath a thunderstorm which resulted in electric charges being transfered from the Lightning. This experiment resulted in the common wire normall put on houses which goes to the ground. This wire act as a protective item to humans because if the Lightning strike it all of the charges which causes static electricity will be directed to the ground and not to the house. This experiment proves that the adhesive force is the one that causes static electricity and not friction.

Newtons Coulomb's law of electricity shows that the electric force is proportional to the product of charges. And two opposite charges attracts each other due to the adhesive force generated when two bodies of different charges are brought close together. Therefore, This conclude my article by a proof from expert that it is not friction that causes the static electricity but it is the force due to opposite charges which causes negative charges to be transfered to the more positive object.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to contact me if there is any information which is not clear or if there is something wrong.


1. Static Electricity Resources
2. (E15) Static Electricity (Grounding)
3. Charging by Friction