Static electricity can be a bother when it shocks you unexpectedly, but during the winter months and when working with electronics, the static shocks can become frequent and painful – and disastrous if a surprise shock ruins an electronic component. If you are shocked often, take steps to dispel a static charge from your body and prevent yourself from being shocked in the future.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Static electricity is the buildup of an electric charge in a given location. Some materials, such as glass, hair and some fabrics, give up electrons easily. When they experience friction, electrons build up and result in a shock. The easiest way to remove a static charge from your body is to touch a grounded object like the screws on a light switch panel. To prevent static buildup entirely, raise the humidity level in a room, moisturize your skin, or use an ionizer to rebalance the electrons in an area to prevent static from forming in the first place.
Static electricity is the result of an electric charge buildup in a particular location. When electrons are given up by materials like glass, hair or certain types of fabric via friction, and those electrons build up voltage, the material becomes likely to attract an electric current, which we feel as a static shock, also known as electrostatic discharge. There are several easy ways to prevent the electron buildup.
Give It Time
The easiest way to dispel static electricity from your body is to wait it out. If you feel your hair starting to stand up and know that the shock is coming, you can sit still. By stopping the friction that created the electron buildup in the first place, the static electricity naturally dissipates within a few minutes.
Ground Your Body
The fastest way to get rid of static electricity in the body is to let the electricity do what it wants – discharge from your body into the ground. To allow this, touch any conductive material not isolated from the ground such as the screw on a light switch's panel or a metal streetlight pole. You can also remove your shoes and socks and stand on the ground if you are outside.
To prevent the buildup of static electricity, take steps to reduce the amount of potential friction in a given space. One of the easiest ways to do this is to apply moisturizer to dry skin, particularly during the winter when cold, dry air allows electrons to travel more easily. You can also use an ionizer to rebalance the lost electrons in a room and prevent static buildup. If your clothing is the problem, minimize the amount of polyester and nylon you wear or – especially in the winter – ensure that you wear a material that builds less static, like 100 percent cotton or wool between the problem fabric and your skin.
About the Author
Blake Flournoy is a writer, reporter, and researcher based out of Baltimore, MD. Working independently and alongside professors at Goucher College, they have produced and taught a number of educational programs and workshops for high school and college students in the Baltimore area, finding new ways to connect students to biology, psychology, and statistics. They have never seen Seinfeld and are deathly scared of wasps.