What is Capillarity?

Last updated on April 24th, 2023 at 05:20 am

Definition: Capillarity is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without any assistance and in opposition to external forces like gravity.

Fig: Capillarity of water. What is Capillarity?
Capillarity of water

From the figure you can see that water is flowing upwards and against the force of gravity. This is happening due to the capillarity effect, the adhesive force of the glass tube is trying to lift the water molecules but the cohesive forces of the water molecules are not letting it happen to cause surface tension. Water can only be lifted to a certain amount of height until the surface tension has the ability to hold the weight of the water lifted.

If the area is more in the tube then less amount of water will be lifted and if the area is less in the tube then more amount of water is lifted.

What is Capillarity?
Capillary Action
weight of water

If there is mercury in the case of water in the beaker then mercury will not lift up to the height of water because of a higher cohesive force of mercury than water.

Fig: Capillarity effect on water and mercury
Fig: Capillarity effect on water and mercury

What are the uses of Capillarity?

Uses of capillarity effect on day to day basis:

  1. Sweeping the wet floor with the help of a towel, the towel will soak all the water from the floor because of the capillarity effect. The towel has small pores in it through which water seeps in.
What is Capillarity?
Sweeping the wet floor

2. Plant uses capillary action to bring up the water through the root and send it through the stem and brunches.

Capillary action
Capillary action
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