The Real Answer to a Major Mystery — Is Water Wet?

I Decided to Ask Three Trinity Science Teachers

Todd Crenshaw, Staff Reporter

“I think the debate is asinine. No one should be talking about it. People who are have too much time on their hands.”

This was Trinity science teacher Mr. Michael Budniak’s response to my question: Is water wet?

I would like to refute his statement and say this question should be talked about because it is different. This is one of those funny questions that can actually be answered with science.

At Trinity many students have been debating whether or not water is wet. While this question may seem to have an easy answer, there are many different responses and many have taken their time to ask teachers what they think on the subject. To ask an expert is the best way to develop a firm answer to the question.

Budniak said, “Before someone can decide if water is wet, they must understand the definition of wet.”

The dictionary describes wet as “being covered or saturated with water or another liquid.”

Many people just immediately think they know the definition of wet, but it might not be what you think. Saturated means water is in the substance. Using the definition of saturated, water must be wet.   

I think the debate is asinine. No one should be talking about it. People who are have too much time on their hands.

— Trinity science teacher Mr. Michael Budniak

A single water molecule saturates all the other molecules around it; therefore, water can itself be wet, just like oxygen can bond to itself.

Mr. Joseph Chittissery Mathai (known as Mr. CM), another science teacher at Trinity, took a different definition of wet when he answered the question. After a brief pause, CM said that wetness is a condition when a liquid comes into contact with another substance.

“This does not describe water at all,” Mr. CM told me.

The process of wetting, as he sees it, is when a liquid comes  into contact with a foreign substance, and a bond is formed between the two substances. This is an adhesion between two things and something that water cannot do to itself.

Water has to be “wetted” by something else or it makes no sense. Water can be “wetted” by oil or another foreign liquid, but it cannot wet itself.

CM said that most hear “water” and quickly associate it with wet because that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Many people answer the question with a knee-jerk reaction and do not really think about the question. This should be fixed.

My final interview was with Mr. Patrick Heintz, another science teacher who also provided some great insight. Heintz seemed to be on the same wave length as Budniak.

He told me water can wet itself because each individual molecule wets all the others. There is a polar attraction between all the molecules that makes them wet.

Heintz also said that CM had a good point, but he still thinks that based on the definition of wet, water can wet itself, and the two molecules are the two substances.

Heintz said, “He would encourage students to talk about the question if they really stop to think and incorporate science into their debate. I could see myself doing some sort of lab to test whether or not water has the quality of being wet in future years.”

Heintz already does a water lab for his classes that includes testing its polarity.

After all these points have been compiled, it is obvious to me that water must be wet. Now that you have the information in front of you, you can finally answer this question the right way — using science and reason in your answer.

So, what do you think? Is water wet?