Last week, during our soil water lesson, we had quite the amusing discussion about everyone’s favorite obnoxious “as seen on tv” product (next to the snuggie, of course) the Sham Wow. The annoying dude with the pointless head set insists that the Sham Wow works “like a chamois, like a towel, like a sponge.” But does it really? And what the heck is a chamois? I decided to find out.
Of course the official Sham Wow website didn’t give any explanation as to how this miracle product works, so I resorted to the always trusty Google search. I found one woman’s first hand account of her Sham Wow experience on Yahoo Answers. She explained that she ordered a set of the product after the infomercial successfully convinced her that she spent too much money each month on paper towels. She decided to try them out at the community car wash after giving her vehicle a much needed bath. She was quickly disappointed to learn that the Sham Wow left streaks and ugly yellow lint all over her car. She instantly threw the product away, only to have another car wash patron ask if she could retrieve it from the trash for herself. The first woman warned of the disappointment when the second woman explained that she doesn’t use them for her car or even to wipe up spills. The woman lines her son’s diapers with them for extra absorbtion because he is a heavy wetter (Now that really does make me say “WOW”).
After reading this, I still didn’t know what a chamois (pronounced “shammy”) was, and thought that maybe it would help explain how this little piece of fabric can hold so much liquid. Chamois is defined as “a type of porous, non-abrasive leather used as a drying material.” It originates from the skin of the Chamois mountan goat, although scientists have been able to develop a synthetic version of the material. The skin’s closely knit, stretchy pores allow for micro-filtration. The quantity of the pores and their proximity to each other give the chamois a very low potential and therefore very high ability for absorbtion.
The chamois leather and its synthetic counterpart have been used to purify mercury by passing the chemical through the tight pore space. When soaked in pure fuel, chamois will not allow water to pass through and can then be used to filter fuel that has been stored in barrels. Perhaps my favorite use of synthetic chamois is in bicycle shorts. Yes, those delightfully stylish shorts are basically a Sham Wow for your ass. I guess that explains how all the cake eaters who seem to do nothing except bike in circles around Myers Park all day never seem to develop butt sweat. I suppose although it doesn’t make for a very clean towel, the Sham Wow really is amazingly absorbent.