From time to time, you might have heard of the riddle: “What is full of holes but still holds water?” While many might disregard this as a silly question, there is actually an answer for it! The thing you should be looking for is a sponge. A sponge has a lot of holes, and yet it can hold a lot of water in it, allowing the user to easily clean any surface. If you don’t really know what a sponge is as well as what you can do with it, this article will help you understand more about this peculiar product.
What is Full of Holes but Still Holds Water?
A sponge is full of holes, but it can still hold water well. A sponge is a tool used for cleaning surfaces as well as household items. These tools are rectangular in shape, and they feature a chewy and soft texture. Sponges are full of holes on their surface, and these holes allow them to absorb an enormous amount of water. To release the retained water, you simply have to wring the sponge dry, and the water will automatically vacate the sponge.
A short history of sponges
Sponges are ancient tools that have been around since forever. Sponges are referenced in many Ancient Greek texts, and it was used by competitors in sports games. These competitors would clean themselves using sponges before a major sport event. In Ancient Rome, sponges were used for scrubbing purposes, including for anal hygiene. They believed that sponges had therapeutic properties, so sponges were held with high regard among the Romans.
The importance of sponges did not wane over time. They became important household items that people used for cleaning not only their bodies but also other household items. Sponges were also used as tampons during the early days of human civilizations. Many women still use them for this purpose, but it is not a very healthy practice.
It was not until 1941 that the first synthetic sponge was made. Commercial production started much later, in 1952.
Why is a sponge full of holes but still holds water?
Modern sponges are made from cellulose fibers that are generally artificial. The holes and the porous texture of the sponge are the results of the heating process, during which sulfate crystals break down and form holes.
These holes allow the sponge to absorb an immense amount of water, and the cellulose fibers themselves are also highly absorbent. Thus, a sponge will absorb and retain a massive amount of water when you plunge it into water. When you wring it dry, the contractions will force the cellulose fibers to release all the absorbed water. The sponge will then slowly return to its original form.
The porous texture of a sponge’s surface allows it to hold so much water, but it is also one of the best habitats for harmful bacteria. These bacteria love wet areas with lots of air, and the holes sponges are exactly like that. As a result, you might want to wash your sponges thoroughly clean before use. Try to wash them with detergents for better effects. An even better solution is to fill the sponges with water and microwave them for about 2 minutes. Remember not to overdo it, because sponges can catch on fire.
The different materials of sponges
Throughout history, sponges have been made from a wide range of different materials. The first material for sponges was natural sea sponges, a sea creature that features a fibrous and porous surface texture that makes them highly absorbent. The ancient people of Rome and Greece would find these creatures on seashores and then dry them. When dried, these creatures can function as natural sponges.
Natural sponges were expensive because you cannot expect to encounter sea sponges all the time, and the natural supply of sea sponges will eventually dry up someday. Thus, artificial sponges quickly became the popular alternatives. The first artificial sponge was discovered in 1942. The main ingredients were cellulose, sodium sulfate, and hemp fiber. These materials were abundant and much easier to manufacture than natural sea sponges.
However, commercial production did not start right away. Companies only began to produce synthetic sponges in 1952, when the main scientist sold his licenses. Nowadays, cellulose sponges are still in production, but there are also newer alternatives made of plastic polymers. They are also quite popular as well.
Vegetal sponges are also new inventions that are taking the world by storm. These sponges are made from wood fibers instead of synthetic fibers, allowing them to be tougher than synthetic fibers. Because of their rarity, these sponges are much more expensive than synthetic sponges. Vegetal sponges can be used for bathing and skin cleaning. They are also biodegradable, making them much more eco-friendly than the other kinds of sponges.