Magic Tube – Strong Tissue Paper

Believe it or not, you can make a tissue so strong that it cannot be ripped

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Magic Tube - Strong Tissue Paper - Cover Image

Tissues are known for a few things. For example, tissues are soft and nice for blowing your nose. Tissues are not, however, known for their tensile strength. Most people wouldn’t be surprised if a common housefly could tear through a piece. In the Magic Tube – Strong Tissue Paper experiment, though, we’ll show you a way to make tissue paper nearly impenetrable.

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Here's What You'll Need

  • Tissue paper
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Wooden dowel
  • Rubber band
  • Salt

Let's Try It

  1. Place the tissue paper over one end of the toilet paper roll. Secure the paper in place with a rubber band.

  2. Try puncturing the tissue paper using a wooden dowel. See how easily the dowel pushed through the tissue paper?

  3. Place a new piece of tissue paper over the end of the toilet paper roll.  Once again, secure it with a rubber band.

  4. Set the toilet paper roll on a flat surface so that the tissue paper is flat against the surface.

  5. Magic Tube - Strong Tissue Paper - Step 5

    Pour salt into the toilet paper roll until the roll is 3/4-full with salt.

  6. Lightly tap the toilet paper roll on a hard surface to help pack the salt.

  7. Again, try to push the dowel through the tissue paper on the end. Wow… it’s next to impossible!

How Does It Work

It may seem obvious that a wooden dowel can easily push through a piece of tissue paper, but what changes when you add salt to the tube? The amount of force you push into the tube remains the same. In fact, you might add even more force into the tube once the salt is added… but the tissue paper just won’t budge.

The key to the tissue paper’s newfound strength is the addition of salt. The hundreds of thousands of salt grains offer much more surface area to dissipate the force you thrust into the tube. As the force spreads from grain to grain of salt (and against the outside of the tube), the force is also spread across the entire area of the tissue paper. The increased surface area makes the tissue paper appear much stronger than before!

Science Fair Connection

Demonstrating the super strength of tissue paper is pretty cool, but it isn’t a science fair project.  You can create a science fair project by identifying a variable, or something that changes, in this experiment.  Let’s take a look at some of the variable options that might work:

  • Try different materials in the toilet paper roll such as gravel, sugar, beads, etc. Which works best?
  • Does the length of the tube make a difference? Try different lengths such as paper towel rolls or even wrapping paper rolls.
  • Test different brands of tissue paper to find the strongest of them all!

That’s just a few ideas, but you aren’t limited to those! Try coming up with different ideas of variables and give them a try. Remember, you can only change one thing at a time.  If you are testing different materials in the toilet paper roll, make sure that the other factors are remaining the same!

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