How to Test the Absorption of Paper Towels

Written by alyssa ideboen
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How to Test the Absorption of Paper Towels
Test the strength of paper towels by examining the rate of absorption. (Tascha Mae Horowitz/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Paper towel manufacturers continually boast of the strength and endurance of their products and make it difficult for consumers to decide which brand offers the best durability for the money. Check for the absorbency of paper towel products with a simple scientific test. The stronger the paper towel, the better performance a consumer receives for the money. Use simple household items to compare and contrast to find the most absorbent paper towel product.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Different brands of paper towels
  • Water
  • 3 or more bowls
  • Measuring spoons
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Marker
  • Eyedropper
  • Stopwatch

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    Method One

  1. 1

    Fasten the embroidery hoop around the paper towel. With a marker, draw a 2-inch circle in the centre of the hoop.

  2. 2

    Use an eyedropper to add drops of water within the centre of the drawn circle. Count the drops as you add them, until the circle is completely full. The paper towel that absorbs the least amount of drops is the most absorbent.

  3. 3

    Measure the time water takes to fill the drawn circle of a paper towel.

  4. 4

    For another way to test absorbency, place another paper towel in the embroidery hoop and draw a 2-inch circle in the centre.

  5. 5

    Squeeze water from the eyedropper one drop at a time and record the amount of time it takes for the water to spread out to the edges of the circle. The shorter the time, the more absorbent the paper towel will be.

    Method Two

  1. 1

    Place three bowls on a table. Label each bowl with the brand or type of paper towel being tested.

  2. 2

    Measure 3 tbsp of water into each bowl. Fold a paper towel and place in each bowl.

  3. 3

    Take out paper towels and measure the remaining water left in the bowl. The bowl with the least amount of water has the most absorbent towel.

Tips and warnings

  • Repeat tests to check for accuracy.
  • Record your findings on a sheet of paper to refer to previous tests.

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