Suppose that I comb my hair. The plastic comb would become negatively charged and would attract small paper pieces.

But if I touch the comb in bare hand and in bare foot standing on the ground, or if I connect a copper wire with the comb into my floor, would the charges in the comb be neutralized? If not, how can be the comb be neutralized again?

It seems the charges will remain in the comb forever. Please explain, I am confused about this matter.

Another question: How can the charged comb attract small pieces of paper if they are neutral?


1 Answer 1


There is no such thing as perfectly non-conducting. We just simplify things into conductors and insulators.

A current will flow from the plastic comb through you to ground, just not as quickly as it would from a metal object connected by a copper wire.

The comb can pick up paper because the paper isn't a good conductor. The electric field from the charged comb attracts opposite charges in the paper to the near end and repels like charges to the other end of the paper. If the paper was a good conductor these charges would immediately flow back together.

  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your answer @MartinBeckett . But if i touch the in bare hand comb and charges go to the ground , then how can the comb still attract the small papers ? I think I haven't got the point . If I put the comb in the ground , would electrons just jump to ground creating sparks ? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ The comb and you are a poor enough conductor that charge would stay on it for a time even with you holding it to ground. If you left the comb in good contact with the ground it would lose charge and not attract paper. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.