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Surface Tension

Liquids surface tension - water, mercury, oils and more

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Surface tension is caused by the inward attraction of molecules at a boundary.

Surface tension is the energy required to stretch a unit change of surface area - and the surface tension will form a drop of liquid to a sphere since the sphere offers the smallest area for a definite volume.

Surface tension can be defined as

σ = Fs / l                                                  (1)

where

σ = surface tension (N/m)

Fs =  stretching force (N)

l = unit length (m)

Alternative Units

Alternatively, surface tension is typically measured in dynes/cm, which is

  • the force in dynes required to break a film of length 1 cm

or as surface energy J/m2 or alternatively ergs per square centimeter.

  • 1 dynes/cm (dyn/cm) = 0.001 N/m = 0.0000685 lbf/ft = 0.571 10-5 lbf/in = 0.0022 poundal/ft = 0.00018 poundal/in = 1.0 mN/m = 0.001 J/m2 = 1.0 erg/cm2 = 0.00010197 kgf/m

Common Imperial units used are lb/ft and lb/in.

Surface Tension of Water

Surface tension of water at some temperatures:

Temperature
(oC)
Surface Tension
- σ -
(N/m)
0 0.0757
10 0.0742
20 0.0728
30 0.0712
40 0.0696
50 0.0679
60 0.0662
70 0.0644
80 0.0626
90 0.0608
100 0.0588

Surface Tension of some common Fluids

  • Acetic acid : 0.028 (N/m)
  • Acetone : 0.024 (N/m)
  • Aniline : 0.043 (N/m)
  • Benzene : 0.0289 (N/m)
  • Benzonitrile : 0.039 (N/m)
  • Bromobenzene : 0.036 (N/m)
  • n-Butane : 0.023 (N/m)
  • Diethyl ether : 0.017 (N/m)
  • Carbon disulfide : 0.032 (N/m)
  • Carbon tetrachloride : 0.027 (N/m)
  • Clorobenzene : 0.036 (N/m)
  • Chloroform : 0.0271 (N/m)
  • p-Cresol : 0.035 (N/m)
  • Cyclohexane : 0.025 (N/m)
  • Cyclopentane : 0.023 (N/m)
  • Diethyl ether : 0.018 (N/m)
  • Ethanol, Ethyl Alcohol, Pure Alcohol, Grain Alcohol, Drinking Alcohol : 0.0221 (N/m)
  • Ethyl acetate : 0.024 (N/m)
  • Ethyl benzoate : 0.035 (N/m)
  • Ethyl bromide : 0.025 (N/m)
  • Ethyl mercaptan : 0.024 (N/m)
  • Ethylene glycol : 0.0477 (N/m)
  • Formamide : 0.057 (N/m)
  • n-Heptane : 0.020 (N/m)
  • n-Hexane : 0.018 (N/m)
  • Glycerol : 0.064 (N/m)
  • Isobutyric acid : 0.025 (N/m)
  • Isopropanol, 2-propanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Rubbing Alcohol, Sec-propyl Alcohol, s-Propanol : 0.022 (N/m)
  • Mercury : 0.425 (N/m)
  • Methanol : 0.0227 (N/m)
  • Methyl alcohol : 0.023 (N/m)
  • Methyl formate : 0.025 (N/m)
  • n-Octane : 0.022 (N/m)
  • Propanol : 0.0237 (N/m)
  • n-Propyl alcohol : 0.024 (N/m)
  • n-Propyl benzene : 0.030 (N/m)
  • Pyridine : 0.037 (N/m)
  • Toluene : 0.0284 (N/m)
  • Water at 20oC : 0.0729 (N/m)
  • Water, soapy at 20oC : 0.0250 - 0.0450 (N/m)
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