MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Why does water have a higher viscosity than vegtable oil?

Date: Wed Mar 8 12:35:55 2000
Posted By: Ronald Fisch, Physics, Washington University
Area of science: Physics
ID: 952374097.Ph

Viscosity measures the resistance of a fluid to flow.  Water
flows more easily than vegetable oil at room temperature (20 degrees C).
Therefore, at this temperature, vegetable oil has a higher viscosity
than water.  A somewhat oversimplified explanation for this is that
water molecules are small, but oil molecules are chains which can get
tangled up with each other.

If we cool things down to -2 degrees C, the water will freeze into ice,
but some kinds of vegetable oil are still liquid.  So at this temperature
the water ice has a higher viscosity than the liquid vegetable oil.

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