Breakdown: Why colder, drier air can be so shocking

Breakdown: Why there may be more static

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - You may wonder why you get shocked by touching a door knob, a person, the car door, etc. It can be uncomfortable but there may be things you can do to reduce the shock.

Atoms are the smallest component of an element and everything in the world is made up of atoms. Atoms are all the building blocks for everything in the world. Each atom is made of protons which have a positive charge, electrons, which have a negative charge, and neutron, which have no charge.

Often atoms are neutral, which mean they have the same number of protons and electrons. However, static electricity forms when positive and negative charges aren’t balanced. While protons and neutrons don’t move around much, electrons (the negative charge) love to jump all around.

Whenever extra electrons are present it means that an object (or person) has a negative charge. Things with opposite charges are attracted to each other. Things with positive charges will go after negative ones, and negative ones seek out positives.

When you run your feet across a rug, you will pick up extra electrons, which have negative charges. Electrons will move easily through metal, which are known as conductors. So when you touch something metallic like the doorknob, which has a positive charge, the extra electrons you picked up from the rug will want to go from you to the knob.

The shock you feel is because the electrons move fast. Static electricity occurs most often in the colder drier months because it’s easier to build up electrons on your skin. When it’s warmer and there is more moisture present, the air helps electrons move off of your skin’s surface faster, which causes you not to get a big static charge.

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