I know that rubber shoes indeed protect you from electrical current which may pass under your feet, and also hinder the completion of a circuit, say when one’s sustains a shock from a path, other than through the feet and thus block the flow of an electric current through the body.

But still, once the electrons enter one’s body, they have to go to a region of lower potential and if the path to ground is hindered, where will they go?

Also in the case of minor household currents, do the rubber shoes really provide complete insulation or rather merely reduce the effect?

  • $\begingroup$ Also in the case of minor household currents, do the rubber shoes really provide complete insulation or rather merely reduce the effect? That depends on how insulating the rubber is. Black rubber is generally quite conducive due to the carbon black (i.e. graphite) it contains. But it's easy to formulate rubber for maximum insulation. Such formulations are even used in high voltage cable insulation. $\endgroup$
    – Gert
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 20:54

1 Answer 1


If there is no path to a lower potential, the charges will just sit where they are. In a battery, for example, the charges want to travel between the terminals due to the potential difference. But, until a circuit is attached to the terminals, no current will flow and the charges will stay where they are.

So, if you touch something that is at a higher voltage (a hot wire or a statically charged doorknob), current will flow into you until you and the object are at the same potential. If you are insulated from the rest of the environment with insulating shoes or gloves or other equipment, then the potentials quickly equalize because it doesn't take much charge movement to rapidly change a static voltage. If there is a conductive path through you to ground, the current will continue to flow since you remain at the same low voltage due to not accumulating charge--leading to a bad time.

If you have built up a charge in your body, you will carry that charge around until it can leave your body once you touch a conducting object at a lower potential, like another doorknob or a ground wire.

  • $\begingroup$ So if one is ‘charged’(I’m using the term charged instead of shocked from a source) there is no way to rid oneself of the charges without touching a lower potential, and if one does that, current will flow and he will be shocked anyway right? So rubber shoes really do not provide any protection an electric shocks other than current passing under the feet right? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 21:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user13387446 It matters how much current flows, not just that current flows. Touching a doorknob while charged may cause a quick pain, but will not result in injury because the current flows for a short time. A static shock caused by walking across a carpeted room in socks can be 60,000V. It hurts, but there is no injury because the current is low and short. Current is what causes damage. The continuous current that flows through a body when it connects a high voltage to ground is what causes injury. The rubber shoes prevent current from flowing. $\endgroup$
    – Mark H
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 0:24

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