How Do You Make a Paper Clip Float on Water?

make-paper-clip-float-water Credit: Sebastien Wiertz/CC-BY-2.0

Make a paper clip float in water by leaving the water's surface tension undisturbed. Although a paper clip has higher density than water, it can lay on top of the water molecules if it is placed on the surface in a way that disrupts the physical bonds that attracts the water molecules to one another, forming a sort of skin on the water. In addition to the paper clip and water, you need some thin, porous paper, such as tissue paper, toilet paper or a paper towel scrap.

  1. Allow the water to settle

    After filling the container with water, allow it to sit on a level, steady surface to avoid particle disturbance.

  2. Place the paper clip on the paper

    Tear a small piece of the paper that can fit completely inside the water container. Place the paper clip on top of the paper.

  3. Lay the paper gently on the water surface

    Be careful not to disturb the water as you lay the paper with the paper clip in the water. As the paper absorbs water, its density increases and it should sink to the bottom. Expedite the process by gently pushing the paper into the water with a pencil. After the paper sinks, the paper clip should remain floating on the surface.