Friday, September 30, 2011

SCience fair-Which brand of paper towel works the best

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Which Paper Towel Works the Best?




Write my Essay on SCience fair-Which brand of paper towel works the best










Which Brand of Paper Towel Works the Best?


A. Description

I plan to test four different brands of paper towels to see which brand is the strongest and which brand absorbs liquid the best. The brands that I will use in my experiment are Amway, Bounty, Brawny, and Green Forest (a recycled paper towel.)

B. Why I chose this project

My parents bought a case of paper towels from some friends of theirs who are Amway distributors. My grandma kept complaining that those paper towels were very cheap and tore easily. My parents claim that all paper towels are about the same. I decided to see who was correct.

C. Hypothesis

I think that Brawny will outperform the other brands in both the strength and in the absorbency categories. I think this because it feels thicker than the others and they advertise that their “Thirsty O’s” make them stronger and more absorbent.



How Paper towels are made

The process of making paper towels is the same way that all paper is made. Wood and other plant materials are ground up until they have separated into microscopic plant fibers. These fibers can come from brand new trees, sawmill scraps left over when larger trees are made into lumber, or from recycled fiber. When making paper towels, they typically use chemically pulped softwood fibers or recycled fibers. After the fibers are ground up, they are bleached white. The fibers are then pressed into thin sheets and dried out. Paper products can be recycled about five to seven times. After that, the fiber becomes too weak to become effective. When making two-ply paper towels, each ply is made separately and then combined using a process called embossing. This makes indentations on surface of paper towels and enables it to pick up more water.

How Paper Towels absorb water

There are two reasons why paper towels absorb water. The first is capillary action. Paper towels are loosely woven and have many spaces between the fibers. These spaces act like a sponge and trap the water. Water tends to travel up narrow channels even against gravity.

The second reason is that paper is made of cellulose. Cellulose is hydrophilic. This means it has the ability to become hydrated and, in fact, is attracted to water. The cellulose molecules can form weak bonds with water.

Researching Brands

In researching this project I went on to the Internet and read the ads for different brands of paper towels. Based on the advertising, I saw that paper towels are used for two main purposes. One purpose is to clean mirrors, glass, and counter tops. When paper towels are used for cleaning, strength is very important so that they do not tear while they are being used. The other main purpose of paper towels is to clean up spills. When paper towels are used for this, their absorbency is very important. In reading the various claims of paper towel manufacturers, each brand claims to be stronger and more absorbent than the competition. Each has reasons while they are they are better. Some focus on their strength, and their quilting or special designs. Some brands also stress how attractive they look. Several brands also claim that they absorb more quickly then the other brands. When paper towels are mainly used to clean up a spill, it is important that the paper towel can absorb a lot of liquid quickly so that less damage is done. In that case, absorbency is more important than the strength. I decided that for my experiment, I would test both strength and absorbency.


v Paper towels Amway, Bounty, Brawny, Green Forest

v Scissors

v Water

v Medicine dropper

v Rubber band

v Glass bowl

v Pencil

v Paper

v Four rolls of quarters

v Ruler

v Large basin of room temperature water

v Stopwatch

v Two chairs

v Clothespins

v String


For both the absorbency testing and the strength testing, I filled a basin with water and let it sit overnight so that it would be room temperature. I did this so that all of the water I used in testing would be the same temperature in case it made a difference. I selected three sheets of paper towel from each roll. I spaced them out at least 10 sheets apart in case there was any difference in how they were manufactured. I then began to cut each individual paper towel exactly to 5 x 7.5 cm. I did this because this was the smallest size of the paper towel and I didn’t want one paper towel to be smaller because this might affect the outcome.

For the absorbency testing, I placed a sheet of paper towel on the top of a glass bowel and secured it with a rubber band. This would keep it from moving. I then filled my dropper with the room temperature water that was inside of the large basin. I held the dropper about 5cm from the paper towel. Then I dropped a drop of water onto the paper towel every two seconds to make this accurate. My mom watched to see when the first drop would fall as I counted the number of drops it took to leak through the towel. I repeated this experiment times for each brand of paper towel making sure to be as consistent as possible. I recorded my result with a pencil and paper and then I took the average of each brand of paper towel to determine which paper towel was the most absorbent.

For the strength testing, I tied two pieces of string between two chairs. The chairs were 60cm apart from each other and the string was 0cm apart. Then I took a paper towel and wet it with exactly 15ml of room temperature water. I made sure that the water completely moistened the paper towel. I attached the corners of the paper towel to the string with four clothespins. I then put quarters one at a time onto the center of the dampened paper towel. I counted how many quarters it took to finally break through the paper towel. I repeated this three times and recorded my results as well as the average number of quarters that it took to break through.


Absorbency Testing

Paper Towel Brand # of Drops When Water Leaked


Trial 1 7 drops

Trial drops

Trial 4 drops

Average 51 drops


Trial 1 174 drops

Trial 18 drops

Trial 15 drops

Average 18 drops


Trial 1 7 drops

Trial 78 drops

Trail 80 drops

Average 77 drops

Green Forest

Trial 1 14

Trial 14

Trial 17

Average 170 drops

Strength Testing

Paper Towel Brand # of Quarters When Torn


Trial 1 104

Trial 171

Trial 100

Average 15 quarters


Trial 1 10


Trial 1

Average 15 quarters


Trail 1 18

Trial 1

Trial 11

Average 178 quarters

Green Forest

Trial 1 6

Trial 78


Average 55 quarters



Absorbency Testing

As far as absorbency, Bounty was the best paper towel. Out of three trials, it took an average of 18 drops of water before it finally leaked through. I was surprised to see that Green Forest came in second with an average of 170 drops. If a person is looking for a paper towel with good absorbency and also wants to protect the environment, then Green Forest is a good choice because it uses all recycled materials. I was surprised to see that Brawny came in third with an average of 77 drops. It is a lot less absorbent than Bounty or Green Forest. My grandma was right about Amway. It came in last with an average of 51 drops.

Strength Testing

Once again, Bounty came in first. It was the strongest paper towel as it took an average of 15 quarters to break through the paper. Brawny did much better in the strength testing. It took an average of 178 quarters before it broke through. However, Bounty is still quite a bit better. Amway was a lot weaker than the first two brands as it took an average of 15 quarters until breaking. The weakest paper towel was Green Forest. On average, it broke through after only 55 quarters. This is probably because it was recycled. When I was doing my research, it said that paper could be recycled five to seven times before it becomes too weak to be used again. If you plan on using a paper towel mainly for scrubbing and cleaning, then Green Forest is not a good choice.

In conclusion, my hypothesis was incorrect. Bounty was the best overall paper towel as it came in first in both tests. Even though Brawny advertises “thirsty O’s”, these were not very effective in absorbing water. This shows that you should not believe in everything that is advertised.


In the future, I would like to test other brands of paper towels to see how the measure up to my other observations. It might also be interesting to try different types of liquid to see if that makes a difference. I also might like to use colored water to see the absorption pattern.



Amato, Carol, et al. 50 Nifty Science Fair Projects Lowell House, February 1

Curtis, Neil and Greenland, Peter How Paper Is Made Lerner Publishing Group, March 1

Sweeney, Susan, L. Everything You Always wanted to Know About Recycling Vantage Press, March 1


How are Paper towels made? 1/11/00

How does paper towel absorb liquid? 1/4/00

Paper University- All about paper /4/00

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