The way you would find the absorbance is to perform an experiment. When a scientist has something he does not know, he performs an experiment or series of experiments to determine the answer.
The absorbancy of a paper towel would be the amount of liquid a certain paper towel can handle without leaving excess liquid on the surface.
What sort of variables might affect absorbancy?
(a) temperature of liquid?
(b) density of liquid?
(c) brand of paper towel?
(d) type of paper towels?
(e) area of paper towel
(f) other factors?
To find the absorbancy, you’ll need to keep all of those variables constant while testing a single variable. So say you want to test liquid density, you would prepare several samples of paper towel (repetition is important), being sure that they are the same area, brand, and type of paper towel. Then you would add the liquid until the paper towel stopped absorbing it. When you found that point, you would record the volume of liquid you used. You would then repeat the experiment using the same liquid on several paper towel pieces as well as other liquids of different densities on the same paper towel piece. From that information, you can determine the absorbancy of a paper towel vs the density of the liquid being absorbed.
There are many different variations to test every one of the variables I mentioned. The key is to keep all variables but one constant and only change that one variable. Otherwise, you won’t know what caused the difference in data.
(republished on 07/18/06)