Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Surface Tension

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Why does the surface tension of water decrease as temperature is increased Where in life is there a for the effect of temperature on surface tension
- Michelle (age 17)
England
A:
The molecules in water and other fluids stick to each other, giving rise to surface tension. When the temperature is higher, the molecules rattle around more, so they generally stick less well to each other. Thus the surface tension typically gets smaller. When a fluid is very hot, the molecules don't stick together well enough even to make separate liquid drops. The liquid and the vapor become indistinguishable, meaning that there is no surface and no surface tension. For water, that happens when it's hotter than about 374 degrees celsius.

Mike W

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.