Why is it dangerous for a child to swim in a disposable diaper?
Disposable diapers are able to hold so much water that the weight of the water soaked diaper could cause the child to fall. Thus, disposable diapers should not be worn when a child is in water.
Why Diapers Absorb Large Amounts of Water
The water absorbing chemical in disposable diapers is sodium polyacrylate. Sodium polyacrylate forms a gel when mixed with water. This gel has a framework in which water is held much-like the way gelatin in jello holds water. Unlike gelatin, sodium polyacrylate can absorb as much as 300 times it weight in tap water.
I have collected powdered sodium polyacrylate from new disposable diapers.
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For more advanced information about sodium polyacrylate as well as ideas for developing a science project about diaper absorbency, see Mega-Absorbers: Osmotically Speaking, in “A+ Projects in Chemistry.”