There’s nothing better than having one of your kids or grandkids run towards across the trampoline, arms out, ready to be grabbed and picked up. But when you notice their hair standing on end, you know there’s going to be a nasty electric shock from the trampoline, and there may even be tears!
Or perhaps it’s even you, jumping around having fun, and you find yourself hesitant about grabbing the metal frame to get down off the trampoline, because you want to avoid the static shock.
The best way to avoid static shock on a trampoline is to have bare feet (no socks), wear cotton clothes (rather than nylon, polyester or wool), and install a water mister nearby to decrease static buildup in dry conditions.
Let’s go into more detail about what static electricity is on a trampoline, when it is likely to affect you, how to avoid static on the trampoline, and then, just for fun, how to make a great deal more static electricity to give even better electric shocks on the trampoline.
What Is Static Charge And Discharge?
Every material is made up atoms, including negatively-charged electrons and positively-charge protons. Generally, materials are neutrally charged, and the number of electrons is balanced with the number of protons. When they are in balance, they are not net positive or net negative, they are neutral. When they are neutral, they can’t make an electric spark.
However, sometimes when objects are in contact with each other, the electrons jump from one object to another.
For example, if you’re walking across a carpeted floor in socks, your feet will rub against the carpet, and the electrons will go from your socks to the carpet.
The carpet is generally a better insulator than your socks, and so the carpet holds onto it the electrons (they can’t flow as easily). You now have a static charge.
Remember, you just gave a lot of electrons away to the carpet, and nature tries to put everything back in balance.
This means that when you touch something else that does conduct electricity, such as a metal door handle, the electrons will jump from the door handle to your hand to balance out your lack of electrons.
This is called a contact static charge (building up the charge walking across the carpet) and static discharge (when you get the electric shock from the door handle).
Why Do Trampolines Get So Much Static Electricity?
A trampoline is made of a poly mesh, this a polyester plastic that has an open weave to give tiny holes. It’s resistant to stretching and shrinking, and is perfect for outdoor use.
There are two ways that bouncing on a trampolines can cause you to build up static electricity.
The first is if you jump on a trampoline with socks, your socks will rub against the plastic of the trampoline mat. As polyester is a great insulator, the electrons will leave your socks, and you will be become charged. If you have long hair, you’ll see it start to stick out from your head.
The second way is if you are wearing polyester, nylon or even wool clothing. The bouncing motion causes the clothes to move against the skin, the friction causing the electrons to move from one to the other.
The final way to reduce the amount of static electricity that you have, is to discharge it frequently. Every minute or so, stop jumping and touch the frame of the trampoline. This will run the charge to earth.
When Is Static Electricity Most Likely To Occur On A Trampoline?
Static electricity is most likely to build up when the air is very dry (lacks humidity), and when you are wearing socks on the trampoline.
The air is most likely to be dry in desert states such as Arizona and Nevada. The air is also more likely to be dry in winter, when there is less evaporation around.
You can make more static electricity occur manually by creating more friction between you and the mat. This would include rolling around on the trampoline and skating your socks over the surface of the mat.
Why Does Static Electricity On A Trampoline Hurt?
When static electricity has built up when you’re on a trampoline, at some stage it needs to be discharged.
When you touch the metal frame or another person, the build-up of electricity in you leaps between you and the other person or object. This charge can be as high as 50 volts.
This voltage of electricity moving from one to the other hurts both of you.
This is because the electricity hits your nerves, including your pain receivers. These are activated by the electricity, and your brain registers the pain associated with the nerves being stimulated.
How To Avoid Static Shock On A Trampoline?
The best way to avoid static shock around your trampoline is to help prevent the buildup of electric charge in the first place.
Here are some tips to help you avoid static shocks when jumping on your trampoline.
I’ll list these below to help you see all of the methods people have used, and you can experiment for yourself to see which will work best for you and your situation.
1. Bare Feet
Socks rubbing against the polymesh black mat of the trampoline creates a build-up of electric charge. By taking your socks off, you’ll find that the charge doesn’t build-up.
If you find that you still have some build-up, try moisturizer as a way of making your feet less dry.
2. Leather soled shoes for gymnastic trampolines
If you can’t do bare feet for trampolining, for example, you or the kids are doing gymnastics or cheerleading, try leather-soled shoes rather than rubber shoes. These prevent static charge better than socks.
3. Wear Cotton Clothes
Polyester, nylon and even wool are excellent conductors. Wool is actually a good conductor because of all of the moisture locked away in the fibers. This means that the static charge will build up quick well with the clothes rubbing against your skin or the trampoline mat.
Cotton, on the other hand, is very neutral, and will generally neither accept or donate electrons. This means that cotton clothes are good to wear on a trampoline as they will prevent static charge.
Check out this article also for what to wear on a trampoline.
4. Install A Water Mister
In dry climates, static charge is created more easily. You may have experienced ‘air so dry it feels crackly’. This is because water humidity in the air is a natural conductor of static electricity, and will ‘ground’ itself frequently. This prevents a buildup of charge in the air.
Whilst this is troublesome in low humidity climates such as desert states, it can also be a problem in winter across many parts of the US.
If you have a water mister on or near the trampoline, this can help ground the static electricity in the air. Click through to read here if you can jump on a wet trampoline.
5. Dryer sheets & Fabric Conditioner
Dryer sheets and fabric conditioners can reduce the buildup of static, but making them more resistant to losing or gaining electrons.
They both work by putting tiny amounts of fabric conditioner over clothes when you put a load of washing through the washing machine (fabric conditioners) or dryer (dryer sheets).
You can rub dryer sheets over your clothes before getting onto the trampoline.
6. Anti-Static Spray
An anti-static spray is a type of chemical that is applied to a surface. The spray prevents the buildup of static electricity on surfaces, such as carpets and clothing. This helps prevent dust from clinging to the area and reduces the risk of getting shocked.
It is a little slippery, so I wouldn’t use this and the water mister together.
7. Aluminum Foil
You can try to make a mini-earthing station. Attach two aluminum sheets to the underside of the trampoline mat. Attach a piece copper wire to both the foil and into the ground. This will effectively ‘ground’ the mat of your trampoline.
You want to make sure you’re not running the copper wire next to the metal ladder of your trampoline, and not where any other kids or pets would easily brush against it.
How To Make A Lot More Static Electricity On A Trampoline
So you want to make more static shocks on a trampoline? No problem, we’ve got you covered and everything is going to be just fine. Shockingly fine.
To make more static electricity on a trampoline, you’ll need to create a great deal more friction. Rub your hair against the trampoline, and roll around on the mat.
If you do this for 10 seconds, this should give you enough friction to build up a good amount of static electricity. You can check how much you have built up by putting your finger near the metal spring next to the mat.
If there is a good amount of charge, you should see (and feel) an arc of electricity from your finger to the trampoline spring.
Videos Demonstrating Static Charge on a Trampoline
Here is a video of a small child rolling around the trampoline demonstrating just how crazy her hair can go!
And here is another one of a slightly older girl with long hair going crazy off to the sides.
And finally, two brothers doing experiments showing just how one can create a spark, and two can create a larger spark. Warning – it can feel a bit painful just watching :/
Electric static on a trampoline can hurt, and so you want to do everything you can to minimize it. Try jumping with bare feet, use a water mister, and wear cotton clothes. Try not to touch other people without their permission. For some reason, not everyone finds it funny or pleasant