Static Shocks From Plastic Film on Windows

Introduction: Static Shocks From Plastic Film on Windows

Do you despise static shocks as much as me? Doubt it! I hates them I do! I even killed my last DVD player (switched to using a laptop) with a wintertime static blast. Thought I'd blown off my finger that time too!! ARG!

However, the worst one I ever got was from that film they put on windows.

Here's what I've discovered to share with people who hate static shocks (nearly) as much as I do.

  • What is static?
  • How is static electricity created? On a window - why!?
  • What materials are involved? Carpets? Socks?
  • Why do my new windows hate me?
  • What can I do to reduce or eliminate the shock?

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Step 1: Step One: a Little Research on Static

What creates a static charge?

Why do they happen? Like when we drag wool socks across nylon carpet and touch a doorknob?

Why is it worse in winter?

The whole of the universe has the same number of positive and negative charges but they do not stay put. Rubbing certain materials together will transfer charge (electrons) from one material into another. The receiver material acts like a battery, holding the positive charge, sometimes for a long while. Small transfers go unnoticed by our bodies. But if there is enough charge, we notice when we absorb the electrons transfer into our skin.

Watching a few Youtube videos, I found that wool accepts electrons. That's why winter-wool socks are part of the reason winter shocks happen more often. So I think wool, wool... hmmm.

Water vapour, like wool, grabs electrons. So on a humid day, there will be few shocks. On a dry day, fewer water molecules to grab electrons, so more shocks. This is the other half of the winter-shocks story. Wool socks + dry (i.e. not humid) days equals frequent shocks. Here in northern British Columbia, it gets to -20 to -50 C, so water vapour falls to the ground. The air is very dried out! One winter back in the days of DVD players, on a January afternoon, I touched my newish DVD player, got a really bad shock (Curses! Curses!) and I killed its electronics stone dead. I had to take it apart to retrieve the disc inside as it would not power up enough to open the drawer.

Step 2: A Little Research on Glass Windows & Static

My research is less clear for glass and static. Maybe people who know can comment.

What I think I have learned is that labels stick to my new glass windows with static. The electrons are attracted to the glass enough to "magnet" onto the surface. The film and glass get to an equilibrium giving and getting electrons. When I peel off the plastic film, electrons are freed to go find a path for a new stability. The more I peel, the more are freed. And I found that they will run down my body and jump into the aluminium step stool via my sandalled foot. SNAP! OUCH! Curses! Curses!

So I was determined to find a new place for the electrons to go, rather than through me!!

Step 3: New Place to Put Those Electrons - Water Vapour

So humidity is good for absorbing electrons. Solution: I could wait for a wet day to remove the plastic film. However, two things:

  1. The warm has been hot (for northern BC) and very dry. This is evident when we see the forest fires burning around me.
  2. A humid exterior may not be wet enough to remove the plastic film on the interior window panes.

Better solution? Hmmm...

Step 4: New Place to Put Those Electrons - Wool Loves Electrons!! Solution!!

Solution! Lamb's wool feather duster!

This little innovation has been a joy for a bachelor to keep the dust under control in the house. A great upgrade from feather dusters, I must say. But now it is going to be useful for grabbing freed electrons from the plastic film.

Step 5: Remove Static With Lamb's Wool Duster

  1. Peeled about a quarter of the film down, then wipe madly over the exposed area. Crackle, crackle!
  2. You will feel a tremendous difference on your arm hair (at least if you are a hairy male like me). No more standing up with static.
  3. Once you have 1/3 to 1/2 of the plastic film peeled down, you will need to unload the duster.
  4. To unload the duster, rub it something else that likes electrons. I used the leg of my aluminium step stool when inside the house and the aluminium ladder on the exterior windows.
  5. You might still get a small shock, but nothing as nasty as without the duster on a dry day.
  6. Another unmentioned hazard will, of course, be your neighbours' funny looks. "Dusting the windows, eh???" Still. Worth it!

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