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Science File / An exploration of issues and trends
affecting science, medicine and the environment | I
Didn't Know That

January 22, 1998

Q: Why does plastic wrap not cling well to metal bowls?

A: The wrap is clingy because it acquires a charge of static electricity as it is peeled off the roll. You can feel the charge if you hold the wrap near your skin: it will make hairs stand.

The film works best when there is a difference in charge between it and the bowl. Ceramic and glass bowls are insulators, and thus help maintain such a difference. But a metallic bowl drains the charge, so that the wrap no longer clings. An old roll that has been in the drawer for a long time also loses its static charge.

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