They’re shocking and irritating: those static shocks that jolt our very existence at this time of year. Just recently on a supermarket run, I had five non-consecutive static shocks that left me almost cursing the shopping cart.
We’ll definitely experience more static shocks as autumn transitions into winter. Drier conditions in these seasons mean that electrons (that subatomic particle with negative electric charge) move less often on air, so they get trapped on surfaces. When these charged surfaces come in contact with each other and then separate, the annoying thing we know as static electricity forms.
Here’s some shocking news: you can reduce your risk of experiencing this zapping nuisance!
When you’re outside…
– Put on that cotton! Wool and synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon act as an insulator and, when rubbed with other fabrics, generate static electricity. Also, if you’re going to layer clothing, you should be aware that friction between the fabrics can increase the risk of a static shock, so go for cotton-based clothing and socks because they’re less likely to conduct electricity.
– Make sure your skin is moisturized. You know that electric charges lurk on dry surfaces, and dry skin is one of them. There are countless skin moisturizers to choose from (hello, Taobao and Miniso!), but make sure that the one you use doesn’t have chemicals that can irritate your skin. Pack a small bottle of lotion in your bags whenever you go out or travel, especially if you have dry skin.
– Try to hold a small metal object, like keys, whenever you push a supermarket cart or touch a metallic surface like doorknobs or stairway railings. The metal key can help absorb any shock that you might get when you touch something after walking on dry surfaces… just don’t lose it, especially if it’s your door key!
– Leather is better when walking. Static charges build up fast on rubber-soled shoes and it can be awful if you’re walking on carpeted floors. Leather is a much porous surface and is less likely to conduct electricity because it releases static electricity as you walk around.
– Make it humid. When the air has more moisture or water vapor, electric charges move more freely so you’re less likely to experience static shocks. Keep the relative humidity between 30 percent and 50 percent – you can measure it through a humidity thermometer, a function that some air quality monitors or digital clocks have.
– Stay away from carpets. But if you can’t just remove your carpets, try rubbing fabric softener on them to prevent a buildup of static electricity. But remember, this isn’t a permanent effect so you will need to treat your carpet at least once a week.
– Opt for cotton-based bedsheets. While I enjoy seeing small sparks of electricity whenever I rub my bedsheet, it gets annoying when I’m in deep sleep or just about to rise, when a sudden jolt wakes my whole body up. Again, cotton is your best friend, even if you’re on the bed!