The word ‘capilla’ means hair in Latin. If the tubes were hair thin, then the rise would be very large. It means that the tube having a very small diameter is called a ‘capillary tube’. When a glass capillary tube open at both ends is dipped vertically in water, the water in the tube will rise above the level of water in the vessel. In case of mercury, the liquid is depressed in the tube below the level of mercury in the vessel (shown in Figure 7.29). In a liquid whose angle of contact with solid is less than 90°, suffers capillary rise. On the other hand, in a liquid whose angle of contact is greater than 90°, suffers capillary fall (Table 7.4). The rise or fall of a liquid in a narrow tube is called capillarity or capillary action. Depending on the diameter of the capillary tube, liquid rises or falls to different heights.
• Due to capillary action, oil rises in the cotton within an earthen lamp. Likewise, sap rises from the roots of a plant to its leaves and branches.
• Absorption of ink by a blotting paper
• Capillary action is also essential for the tear fluid from the eye to drain constantly.
• Cotton dresses are preferred in summer because cotton dresses have fine pores which act as capillaries for sweat.