How Much is Inside Dryer Sheets?
How much fabric softener is riding on one dryer sheet?
By Rob Cockerham |
How much is inside Dryer Sheets?
Dryer sheets are little cloth rectangles infused with a fabric softening agent. The rectangles are chucked into the clothes dryer with your load of wet laundry. As they heat up, the fabric softener comes off the sheet and is mixed up and around with your drying clothes.
The fabric softener helps to reduce wrinkles and static within the load of clothing.
Before 1970, fabric softener was sold as a liquid. The liquid had to be added to the washing machine after the wash cycle, so that it's effectiveness wasn't counteracted by the laundry detergent.
The original fabric sheet was invented by Conrad J. Gaiser, who gave them the adorable name "Tumble Puffs". When I say invented, I mean that he started pouring liquid fabric softener onto little rags, so that his wife wouldn't have to choreograph adding liquid softener to the rinse cycle during her wash loads.
He sold the patent to Proctor and Gamble which added their own expertise and marketed them as "Bounce".
The sheets are also infused with a strong fragance. Look at the box above. Does looking at the box elicit a strong reaction to the ovewhelming smell of dryer sheets? It does for me.
Bounce uses quaternary ammonium salts of fatty acids as its primary softening agents, whereas its rival Unilever uses a stearic acid in Snuggle sheets.
But how much fabric softener is really in these dryer sheets? The softener melts into the tumbling air and leaves the little sheet behind, slightly more transparent than when it went in. How much weight did it lose?
To determine the weight of the missing softener, I opened a new box and weighed the entire stack of new sheets. They cost $3.94 and weighed 250 grams.
The next step was to use the dryer sheets.
These were the softest days of my life.
I collected the leftover sheets, pulling them out of my pant legs and collars. These are made of non-woven polyester, presumably because this is the cheapest fabric on earth. Can you think of another instance of a fabric sheet being used as a chemical transport device?
Why, yes, yes I am suggesing that we invent nicotine socks.
With the fragrance and softener gone, the 105 used sheets weighed just 105 grams, a difference of 145 grams!
There was the answer. Dividing a difference of 145 grams between 105 dryer sheets, I learned that each sheet had held an average of 1.38 grams of fabric softener, or a little more than the weight of a plain M&M.
Now, buying 1.38 grams of fabric softener seems like an absurdly small bit, but its enough to do the trick. The cost is also quite reasonable. It is hard to get too worked up at anything which costs less than 4¢ per use.
The experiment was done and I had 105 cloths. I could sew them together, but to make what, a Bounce house?