My hair always gets static in winter. How does static electricity come about, and why is it worst in winter?
Things become static when they release or receive electrons from other materials and thereby become electrically charged. For example, hair gets a positive charge when you pull a wool sweater over your head, because it releases its electrons.
Positive charges repel each other, causing your hair to stand apart to escape from each other. Your hands always release electrons when you touch something. This gives you a shock if you open a car door, for example, because electrons jump from the door onto your hand.
Humid air reduces static electricity
Materials are susceptible to the release of electrons to varying degrees. If you iron along a glass with a woolen sweater, the sweater receives electrons from the glass and is charged negatively. But if you iron the sweater along polyester or plastic, the sweater releases electrons and is charged positively.
Water conducts electrons well, and therefore there is less static electricity if there is a lot of moisture in the air. In the winter, the humidity is often low, making things more static.
This creates static electricity
1: Some materials, such as wool and plastic, easily lose or receive electrons, making the material static.
2: A balloon and a wool sweater brush past each other. The plastic steals electrons from the wool, and the balloon is charged negatively while the sweater receives a positive charge.
3: The surplus electrons on the surface of the balloon repel electrons on the wall. The positive particles - protons - in the material of the wall attract the balloon, because positive and negative attract each other.