If you’re stuck in the rain, taking a bath, or swimming in the ocean, you’re going to feel really wet! But why??
Wetness is just a feeling. It’s something that our brains tell us about what we’re touching, and water has some pretty special qualities that make it feel wet when we touch it.
If we put our hands in water, we feel the water swirl around our fingers and our palms. We feel the pressure of the water. Imagine someone squeezes your hand or gives you a strong handshake. That squeeze is pressure on our hands, but it doesn’t feel wet. Water gives our hands a very light squeeze, with just a little pressure that changes as our hands move through it.
Imagine putting your hand into some sand. You probably have to force the sand out of your way, maybe wiggling your fingers or digging a hole. It’s not easy, like it is with water that just changes shape to let your hand travel through it. When you take your hand out of the sand, the sand doesn’t go back to its original shape, but water does! The way it moves around our hands is another quality of water that makes us feel wetness.
Most of the time water also feels cool. It has a cooling effect on our skin. At times it can also be warm. The difference in temperature from the air helps our brain realize that the water isn’t air and that we feel wet.
It is a combination of temperature, pressure and the way it moves tells our brains that water is wet. Our brains are able to take all this information and figure out what we’re feeling right away! It’s pretty amazing!