The Radish: Is water wet?
Is water wet? Staff members Matt Harvey and Trevor Hendryx debate the essential properties of the juice of life.
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Of course it is but it may not be able to realize. I declare that water is in fact wet, because the definition of “wet” is when water adheres to something. Water being the chemical compound of two hydrogen and one oxygen molecule, means that when several water molecules are placed together they adhere to each other making them by definition, “wet”. On the molecular level one water molecule is not wet but when paired with one or more, it then experiences being wet.
The question of whether or not water is wet is one that has been cause for intense debate due mainly to a complete lack of understanding about the scientific nature of things. Put simply, the answer is, no. Water is not wet. This answer— like most vain debates— has a simple, and correct explanation; one that can be discovered by knowing the facts that surround the subject. First, it is important to note that “wet” is both a verb and an adjective. The verb is used to describe making something wet— as in, “I wet the bed” (coincidentally, a common phrase uttered by those who believe that water is wet). According to UC Santa Barbara (one of the very few legitimate authorities that took to belaboring such an elementary concept), wetness is defined as “the ability of a liquid to adhere to the surface of a solid.”
When we use the adjective to say that something is wet, we mean that liquid is sticking to the surface of a material, giving the object a sensation of moisture to the touch. In our example, the bed has a liquid— urine— adhering to its surface, and is thus wet. It may come as a surprise to some, but it is impossible to stick a liquid to the surface of another liquid. The bonding between water and other liquids occurs at a molecular level that combines the two substances, not at a surface level that leaves the liquids with two separate exteriors in contact with each other. This distinction, between surface contact and molecular combination, is also important in the case of ice.
One may say that ice is water, but in a solid form, and they would, of course, be correct. However, unlike other solids, ice doesn’t remain a solid when in contact with water or any other liquid for that matter. We have already established that when pouring a liquid into another liquid— say, water into a glass of liquid water— the molecules bond to create more water, when pouring water into a glass of ice, the bonding occurs at a much slower pace. Thus the solid water is not a separate surface being “wet” by the liquid water, but in the exact same way as pouring water into a glass of water, is in the process of combining to create a larger quantity of water.