DIY nanotechnology

Make your own ultra-ever dry/never wet at home, Here is how!

Homemade superhydrophobic fabricGet used to the word “super-hydrophobic”, it’s going to change the way we live our lives. From water repellent fabrics to hulls of the biggest ocean liners in the world, benefit from superhydrophobic and water repellent coatings, alike. Superhydrophobic surfaces are extremely repellent towards water, so that water not only doesn’t cling but simply bounce off without leaving slightest of a trace. Water repellent fabrics are among the most discussed superhydrophobic materials, for obvious reasons. These fabrics are so amazing that you can completely immerse them in water but they do not get wet.

Although scientists use all kind of fancy techniques to fabricate these materials. If you are smart enough you can do just that with the chemicals that you can find at your home. I accidently found this method when I was doing an experiment. It was a pleasant surprise and I’m going to share it with you. Required materials are very easy to find and cheap as well. The hydrophobic solution can be easily used as a water repellent coating for fabric, water repellent spray for shoes (canvas shoes), waterproof fabric spray and tent waterproofing spray. You can even experiment and see what else it can make superhydrophobic. If you are not sure, test it on a small piece of a fabric to see anything goes wrong.

The stuff you need

  • A silicone sealant (look for RTV or room temperature vulcanizing type, and great if you can find the clear sealant, if you are not sure ask from your local hardware owner)

  • A bottle of paint thinner or mineral spirit ( any brand of NC thinner would do, just make sure that you haven’t mixed water in to it accidently)

  • A glass bottle with cap to mix the ingredients and a plastic cup to treat the fabric

  • Piece of a fabric to treat ( woven or knitted, use cotton for best effects)

  • Pair of gloves and a mask (mask is optional if you do this outdoors)

Stuff you need to make homemade superhydrophobic fabric

 

How to make the hydrophobic solution

Making hydrophobic solution is quite easy. Here is how.

  1. Get about 50 ml of paint thinner to the bottle

  1. Squeeze out about 5 grams of RTV silicone sealant in to the glass bottle containing thinner ( the amount may depend on the weight and structure of the fabric, but I’ve found that 5 grams usually does the trick, you can experiment further if you want)

  2. Close the cap and shake the bottle hard as you can to mix the two items. Stop when you see a turbid solution without any leftover RTV silicone on the bottom

  3. Pour the solution in to the plastic container and immerse the fabric. You must make sure the fabric is completely covered with the liquid

  4. Leave it for five minutes, and keep under sunlight until completely dry

  5. Test it by pouring some water on it, you will see water rolls off like it does on a lotus leaf indicating superhydrophobicity

Homemade superhydrophobic fabric making process

How it works

Although seems surprising, nanotechnology is at work here. When I first observed this it took me by surprise and I investigated further with methods that I have in my dispose. An electron microscope image of the treated fibers show that fibers are completely covered with the coating. More interestingly, surface is also covered with uniformly distributed small particles.

SEM image of homemade superhydrophobic fabric

To understand the effect further, we need to look at the material composition of the RTV silicone. Silicone sealant is a specially modified type of a silicone polymer which comes under the class of polydimethylsiloxanes. These polymers are known for their very low surface energy, which means that these surfaces are very difficult to wet. RTV silicone sealant also contain a material call hydrophobic fumed silica as a filler which plays another key part in this effect. These small particles, also have very low surface energy and they go and deposit on the surface of the fibers. These small particles create a micro level mountain like structures on the cotton fiber surface. So when a water droplet falls on to the cotton fibers, it would essentially be suspended on the tip of these mountains, maintaining an air gap between the water and the surface of the fiber. This make water droplets to bead and roll off when the fabric is tilted. The same phenomenon, with even more stunning detail, exists on the surface of a lotus leaf.

cotton fabric treated with homemade superhydrophobic fabric

You can try this homemade water repellent coating and let me know how it went. You can try to make a water repellent fabric, water repellent shoe (canvas shoe) or make your tent hydrophobic with it. Use it as a spray if you have a spraying device. Just make sure you wear masks.

 Try this at home!

Thank you for number of encouraging comments you’ve given and i’m very glad to hear the amazing experiences you’ve had with this method. The one that really moved me was this one,

varsha
ninithi.com
117.216.59.122
hey !! it helped me a lot !! thank u soo much !! i got first prize by doing this !!

and this one,

Nigel
ninithi.com
92.18.174.214
Used Dow Corning 785 with white spirit and took the canvas tent out last weekend, it poured down and we stayed nice and dry, thanks for the info and for saving us lots of cash.

Dow Corning 3138356 732 Clear Multi-Purpose Sealant, 90 mL will give you the best results with basic NC thinner.

See few other DIY nanotechnology activities

 

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95 thoughts on “Make your own ultra-ever dry/never wet at home, Here is how!

    • Hi cosmicaug, thanks for reading my blog. I checked the product. Yes this will most probably work. Remember , hydrophobic silica would play a key role here. Cheaper or low grade rtv silicon may have more HPS than the premium ones.

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      • With the one doesn’t dissolve fully, I thought reducing the diameter would help but it didn’t. The other dissolve fully without reducing the diameter even without shake and left it over night. When the silicon doesn’t dissolve fully, does that mean the silicon is low in HPS?

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      • I was wondering how long the coating would last and what would happen if I put a shirt with the coating in a washing machine, would other cloths get damaged if it does

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      • Hi Aadam,
        I’m sure it will last one or two washes. Silicone sealants are not harmful to touch. However, i would not recommend this to be put on a garment or a washing machine

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    • H S Cin, thanks for visiting my blog. Most of the stains we encounter are water based (eg. Tea, coffee, etc). Therefore, many classify super hydrophobic surfaces as passive self cleaning. However if the stain is oil base it wouldn’t help you much.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. If you spray outside of tent, will It be superhydrophobic on that surface? Or would you need to spray both sides for it to work? If must spray both sides, can outside dry first or both surfaces need to be wet and dry simultaneously?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nancy, I’m afraid, you just have to try and see. I would however, recommend you to do it on the both sides. I don’t think both has to dry simultaneously. This works great for cotton fabrics. Tents are usually made of polyester or nylon. Hope this helps 🙂

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  4. While not quite as hydrophobic the commercial coatings like Never Wet and Ultra Ever Dry, it is significantly less expensive and functions well enough for nearly all the same purposes. The idea for this project was used courtesy of Dan Rojas at GreenPowerScience.

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  5. HI, I need to do this for a ‘inventor’ project, and I decided to do this. Is there any other things besides paint thinner that will work for this. Something maybe a little more accessible for home. Thank you.

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    • Hi Zuhaib,
      Having a texture really helps to get a superhydrophobic surface. If you think, chrome can get affected please don’t proceed. You can try it on a similar metal surface instead.
      Thank you

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  6. I take it the application of this experiment is not useful for personal clothing? It has been 2 days and the cotton still wreaks like paint thinner haha. Cool experiment though

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    • Hi B1branco,
      Thank you. I have tried water based application as well.For me it didn’t work out very well. I think having a surfactant reduces the wettability thus superhydrophobicity doesn’t come.
      Thank you!

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  7. First the silicon sealant am using is white….very difficult to dissolve in thinner…but some how i managed n mixed it thoroughly….but how much time do it take to dry…on a cloth…like i tried drying it by ironing the cloth…but it isn’t working…is it need to be dried in sunlight only! ?

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    • Hi Mohit,
      Try the translucent silicone sealant as white one may contain other pigments such as Titanium dioxide. Silicone is only partially dissolved in thinner. Thinner is supposed to dry off quickly. Please make sure you don’t have any water in thinner. I just let it dry under normal conditions. I’m not sure what will happen if you force dry it.
      Thank you

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  8. Hello,
    Have you used this on leather?
    Thank you for sharing the knowledge.
    How long does you application last, and does your solution come off after minimal wear?

    -Thomas

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    • Hi Thomas,
      In fact, I haven’t used this on leather. My personal feeling is that it wouldn’t make it hydrophobic. But i think it would make it water repellent. Thanks for reading my blog. Wear performance would depend on many factors. To make it more durable you may need to add hydrophobic fumed silica separately.
      Thanks

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  9. Thank you! I tried it and it repels water on my canvas shoes. Would love to try it on my shirt but is there a way to remove the strong smell of thinner?

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  10. Hello,
    I leave this comment to ask you if this substance could be applied to glass using an atomizer. I´d really appreciate if you could answer that question.

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    • Hi Nisag,
      Here we can expect a thin silicone coating to be applied on the surface of the fibers. During the drying stage, the solvent evaporates leaving the silicone coating intact. Water repellency is Due to the low surface energy of this silicone coating.

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  11. Make sure you have 100% Silicone. DAP or GE. If it’s not 100% silicone the other stuff may keep it from devolving Xylene seems to be the preferred thinner. Work outside and stay upwind of your work, wear a respirator that filters Xylene or breath forced air if your working with it for more than 1 or 2 minutes.

    Hanging outdoors on a cloths line in the shade for a day will should get the smell out.

    GC

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  12. Used Dow Corning 785 with white spirit and took the canvas tent out last weekend, it poured down and we stayed nice and dry, thanks for the info and for saving us lots of cash.

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  13. Hi,
    how are you?
    I would like this in my t-shirt. well before that i wana make sure it doesn’t make any hazardous to my skin like irritation , rashes etc .. can you help me with that ?

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      • When I treated my canvas tent with Dow Corning 785 and White Spirit I had some of the mixture left over it turned to a gel the next day but when I went back to it about 2 months later it had turned back to a liquid.

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