Science Project: Paper Towel Water Absorbency Rate


Comparing the Water Absorbency Rate of Different Paper Towel Brands

A TV advertisement  claims that Brand X paper towels are the best. You could compare the water absorbency rate of Brand X with other paper towel brands. Water absorbency rate is the amount of water absorbed in a certain amount of time.

Science projects need a question, hypothesis, experiment procedure, data, data analysis, conclusion, and display. Since there are so many parts the best way to stay organized is to keep all your notes in a science note book. This could be called a Science Log or a Science Journal. If your teacher doesn’t give specific instructions for this note book, you may organize it any way you wish. But, since it is a good idea to show this notebook with the display of your project, I suggest that you read some of the ideas on this Science Fair Project: Log Book Link.

Following are ideas for a paper towel water absorbency rate project.

Science Project Question:

Science Projects need a question. For this project the question could be:
1. How does the water absorbency rate of Brand X compare to other paper towel brands?
2. How does the water absorbency rate due to Brand X’s quilted design compare to other paper towel brands?
3. What effect does price have on the absorbency rate of paper towels?


A hypothesis is your prediction about the results of the investigation. In other words, what do you think? Will Brand X be more absorbing or not? What do you base your prediction on? Study the physical characteristics of Brand X. Does it have something special that might make it more absorbing? If Brand X is expensive, some think the higher priced items are better. Maybe Brand X is advertised as having some special design. You have to have a reason for your hypothesis.  Following are example hypotheses.

1. If Brand X’s quilted design increases water absorbency, then Brand X will absorb more water than other paper towels.
2. Brand X will absorb more water because of its quilted design.
3. Brand X is the most expensive, thus it will be the best water absorbing paper towel.
4. If expensive brands are best, then Brand X will be the best water absorber.

A straight sided container with a tape scale 0-11. A folded paper towel standing in the red water in the container.Experiment

You need to design an experiment that allows you to measure the amount of water that each paper towel absorbs in a certain amount of time. To do this you need a container that has measurements. The diagram shows a piece of tape with equal spaced marks starting with 0 at the top.

I chose to color the water with red food coloring so that the water level would be easier to read. The paper towel is folded and stood in the colored water. As soon as the paper touches the water a stop watch needs to be started. After exactly 20 seconds (a time I randomly chose) the paper is to be lifted out of the water and discarded. You could have a discard container available for the wet paper towels.

After lifting the paper out of the red water read and record the level of red water on the tape scale. Note that the tape scale doesn’t have any units. In other words, it is a number scale without units, such as inches or milliliters. This type of scale can be used when comparing things. For example, if Brand X absorbs water so that the red water drops down to the 6th mark and another paper towel only absorbs water dropping the water surface down to the 3rd  mark, it shows that Brand X absorbs more water than the paper towel it is being compared to.

Enrichment:  You could show the math ratio between Brand X and each paper towel it is being compared to. In the previous example, the the ratio would be 6 to 3 or 3 to 1. This would mean that Brand X absorbs 3 times as much water as does the paper towel it is being compared to.

Research on this website information about data analysis, conclusion, and display.