Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Precise measurements of the surface tension of water in air vs. humidity at 5, 10, 15, and 20 degrees C are shown. For constant temperature, surface tension decreases linearly for increasing humidity in air. These experimental data are in good agreement with a simple model based on Newton's laws here proposed. It is assumed that evaporating molecules of water are ejected from liquid to gas with a mean normal component of the speed of "ejection" greater than zero. A high humidity in the air reduces the net flow of evaporating water molecules lowering the effective surface tension on the drop. Therefore, just steam in air acts as an effective surfactant for the water-air interface. It can partially substitute chemical surfactants helping to reduce their environmental impact.