August 20th, 2018

Just a natural fact, opposites attract

By Medicine Hat News on January 20, 2018.

I do not know about you, but when I leave the house lately it is scary; you may ask why. Well, my hair seems to be standing on end. Yes, I brush it in the morning, but the more I brush it the more it stands up. I look like a scarecrow. What is going on here? I can’t continue to go to work looking like this. Let’s investigate further!

* Remember to ask an adult before you do this experiment.



– balloon

– clean, dry head of hair, or a wool sweater

– sheet of black paper

– salt

– pepper

– sturdy surface

– tablespoon


1. Place the sheet of black coloured paper on a sturdy surface.

2. Place six tablespoons (90mL) of salt on the paper. You want to have a nice mound of salt.

3. Add three tablespoons (45 mL) of pepper.

4. Make sure the mixture is mixed up well.

5. Blow up the balloon and tie it.

6. Rub the balloon in your hair (or a volunteer’s hair). Rub really well.

7. Slowly place the balloon over the salt and pepper mixture.

8. What do you see

9. Did you hear anything?

10. Repeat.

Caution: You do not want to touch your eyes while doing this experiment as the pepper powder on your fingers will really sting your eyes. Once you are done, be sure to dispose of the balloon and wash your hands very well.


Ah ha! I have finally found the answer and whew it is not my fault that my hair is standing on end. Of course it has to do with science. I should have known, static electricity is at play, as it is in this experiment.

In this experiment, you created static electricity by the friction as you are rubbing the balloon on your volunteer’s hair. Try not to laugh at their crazy hairdo now! You gave the balloon electrons and it became charged. The pepper in this experiment was uncharged. When you held a charged object (balloon) over the pepper that was uncharged, it quickly became attracted to it. If you carefully look at the bottom of the balloon, you will be able to see all of the pepper stuck to it. You should have also been able to hear the pepper attracting to the balloon!

Patty Rooks is senior scientific consultant at PRAXIS, “Connecting Science To The Community.” Contact Praxis at,, Tweet or follow us @PraxisMedHat, or friend us on Facebook.

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