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Water, Electrons splitting, Electricity

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Thanks4helpin, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. Thanks4helpin

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    Hi everyone

    First off warning again that these questions will seem very weird. Please bear with me, and as I explained in my previous posts, I am not familiar with electricity (although I have tried reading internet resources, but they are usually too high level or does not answer my question specifically) and appreciate your patience.

    1) Is this true : touching the prongs of a live plug (say, connected to a light/computer or whatever) is less dangerous (less volts and amps) than sticking a fork in the socket and holding the fork at the tip/end, because in the first scenerio the electrons are "split" within the two prongs and your fingers (since the light stays on and the computer stays on even while you are touching a live plug), and in the last scenerio the electrons go straight into the fork and there is only one channel - your hand at the end. so you get full shock of 120 volts. is this true?

    5) Water still stays in liquid form even when electricity is running through it. for example, if you drop a toaster in the bathtub the water doesn't explode. it just has electricity running through it. If you put a piece of plastic over two prongs of a live plug, nothing would happen because plastic is an insulator. but what would happen if the plastic was wet? would the water on the plastic and the two prongs of the live plug form a circuit, so the plastic would melt/explode? (similar to touching a fork across a live plug) Or would the water heat up and evaporate so quickly that the plastic would be dry and it would act as an insulator if someone touched it?

    3) what happens if a fork or metal pin touches the the heating element
    of a gas stove and/or a water kettle will the
    fork/metal object conduct electricity and short circuit the heating

    Thank you! Have a great day.
  2. evilclem

    Active Member

    Dec 20, 2011
    1) No, the plug can be considered a low impedence source of current, it can supply lots more power than the device in use requires, 120V worth of current will pass through you regardless. Please don't try this.

    5) If the water was continuous from the active contacter to the neutral (or earth) contacter then an electric path would flow through it. The current passing through would depend on the impurities in the water (pure water doesn't conduct electricity). I would expect the water to drip off fast enough to break the current path before you even plug it into the wall, a wet rag however would be another story. Please don't try this either.

    3) I am not entirely sure if a heating element is insulated, although I would think it'd have to be (in the case of a kettle and hot water system especially). If it's insulated then your fork will just get very hot. Please don't pick your fork up too soon after trying this.

    As a side note, shorting any power circuit will trip your safety switch, if you do not have a safety switch (or RCD) then get one.
    Thanks4helpin likes this.
  3. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Heating elements on stoves are coated with specialty ceramic. They are not live, thought the heater wire inside is.

    If you put a fork in a socket (with insulated gloves on) you would still get molten metal flying everywhere. Not good, and very noisy.

    One of the most dangerous jobs in the world is that of a power lineman. When an electrical discharge occurs it can create a plasma ball that is easily as powerful as any explosive. It acts very much like an explosive, as a matter of fact. The power levels out a socket are much less that this thresh hold, but the potential for electrical violence is very real and should never be ignored.

    Fact is, outlets are designed to be as safe as they can be. This is why the 3 prong outlets have replace old 2 prong models.
    Thanks4helpin likes this.
  4. Thanks4helpin

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    Thanks SO MUCH For your detailed answer. I'm still a bit confused though, sorry if I'm slow. So you're saying that even if you touch a live plug which is operating say, a toaster and the toaster still is on and running while you are touching it, you are still getting 120 volts through you? how can this be when the toaster is still running and using some of the volts/amps?

  5. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    You should also know that pure water (distilled water) is actually an insulator. No current can flow through pure water. It is the impurities (minerals) that make it conductive.
  6. crutschow


    Mar 14, 2008
    The toaster uses some amps but not any of the volts (expect for a small loss due to power line resistance). So there is still all the volts and plenty of amps left (again determined mainly by power line resistance) to create all sorts of mayhem if you touch the hot side of the line. :eek:
    Thanks4helpin likes this.
  7. justtrying

    Senior Member

    Mar 9, 2011
    please also note that it is current and not voltage that is the danger.
  8. SlowCoder

    New Member

    Mar 25, 2012
    Scary thread. Sounds like it would be interesting to be at Thanks4helpin's house. :p