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Will an inked paper boat dissolve in water? Answered

For one fun activity with kids we wrote letters, made paper boats of them and let them into the lake. We didn’t have time to take them out, they sank somewhere not far away from the point where they started off. So my question is how long will it take for that ink to dissolve (yes, I don’t really want anyone read that stuff:)) and those paper boats to dissolve/tear apart?


The way you describe it, it sounds like some kind of magic ritual, like a wishing well, that accepts wishes written on paper, kind of like a regular wishing well, combined with prayer notes.



So, to me, it seems like, previously, when you wrote the letter, you were willing to believe in magic.

But now, you have some kind of buyer's remorse about this magic ritual, and you want to appeal to a different kind of magic, called "science", to destroy the information encoded in the ink, on the paper, in the water, in the lake.

Probably the best way to answer your question is by way of experiment. I suggest using the same kind of paper, and the same kind of ink, and writing a neutral message, like "0123456789", or "Hello World!". Then drop this paper into a container of water.

Then observe your paper test message, to see if does the things your hypotheses say it might do, like the ink dissolving into the water, or the paper tearing apart, or whatever mechanisms of destruction you were expecting.

By the way, I know a glass or plastic jar with water in it, cannot give you all the myriad influences of a real lake environment, like the same bacteria, algae, fish, sunlight, etc, but I think it can give you some of them, like, prolonged wetness, and time, and you can shake the jar, or swirl it around a little bit, if you want to give the water some agitation.