How Does Capillarity Help Sustain Life?

There are 8 planets in our solar system but only the Earth contains Life. Ever wondered why? Well, if you have a clear understanding of this then that’s just fine but if you don’t have then the answer is simply because the Earth contains a sustainable environment for its living things to survive whereas the other 7 don’t have elements to sustain life in them. Also, there might be life-sustaining elements on our planet but it needs a few natural mechanisms that help to sync the elements together and helps to run the life cycle of literary everything we rely upon to sustain our life.

One of the primary mechanisms for sustaining life on Earth is ‘Capillary Action’ or in short ‘Capillarity’. We will go into the topic of how does capillarity help sustain life further by saying that capillarity is one of the core reasons the earth is still inhabitable and in this article, we will try to understand how it helps to sustain life.

Key Takeaways

  • Capillarity is the process of flowing water and the dissolved elements in it through narrow channels. It works both for plants and animals.
  • Capillary Action helps the Earth to be life-sustaining by creating a mechanism for the trees to retain mineral elements from the soil. Where there is a plant, there is life.
  • The food nutrition we get from foods is one way or another based on plants. These foods provide nutrition which is distributed along with blood cells due to Capillary action.

Capillary Action: The Process

Capillary action the process

You may or may not have heard about the term Capillarity but it has a direct influence on our daily life inevitably. For your easy understanding let’s just show you a simple example to define Capillary action. If you soak one side of a tissue paper in a glass of water and leave the other end dry, you will see that water is slowly absorbed by the tissue and spread out all over it by itself. Eventually, the whole tissue paper will get wet although you had just soaked only one tiny end.

Capillarity or Capillary Action is the process of liquid flowing (water and other diluted material in it) through a narrow space without any assistance or even opposition of force like gravity. This process is used by plants, and animals to sustain their life and even it is part of our natural ecosystem to arrange a sustainable environment for life.

Capillarity In Nature

Capillarity in nature

As mentioned earlier, Capillarity has a significant impact on our nature. Though you may not be able to see it directly capillarity is going on around you every moment as you read this. Most capillary action benefits the plants to sustain thus ultimately impacting sustain life of everything on Earth.

Water Uptakes In Plants

The most common and important use of capillarity is done by plants that we see around us. We all know that trees take mineral water from the soil through their roots and use it in photosynthesis for making their food. Water is absorbed by the roots through osmosis and then moves upward through tiny tubes called xylem vessels. This whole process of water uptaking by roots, glucose processing, and distribution is done by capillarity. This process makes the plants’ life sustainable by helping them retain water and other 12 mineral elements from the soil.

Nutrient Transport In Plants

Plants don’t only use capillarity to retain water from the soil but also capillarity enables the plants to transport water but also helps to transport nutrients from the main stems to every farthest leaf. As water is a common dissolver, it dissolves the nutrient particles and distributes them to wherever they are needed for growth. Without capillarity. there is no other viable option for transporting the nutrients. Cohesion, Adhesion are two forces that execute this task opposing gravity. It helps the plants to grow and sustain longer.

Soil Moisture Maintenance

Capillarity helps the soil to retain the moisture it needs constantly. When the upper layer of soil becomes dehydrated, water molecules from the lower layer of soil adhere to drier soil particles around them. Thus water comes to the upper layer of the soil by capillarity to ensure there is always a sufficient supply of water for plants and other living organisms in the soil. It is a great life-sustaining assistance of capillarity.

Soil’s Water Absorption

Just like capillarity helps to moisturize the upper layers of soil to create a more sustainable environment for some living things, it also helps the soil to absorb water and other ingredients into it. Water flowing above the topsoil and natural or artificial ingredient like fertilizer is absorbed by the soil through capillarity. For example, the water sucked into the soil after rain, credit goes to capillarity for preventing flood resulting sustain life.

Insect Feeding Mechanisms

Capillarity helps insects to have a sustained life by different means. Any small living organism that lives in the soil makes it fertile by breaking dung, carrion, and leaf litter and therefore returns nutrients to the soil. Soil moisturized by capillarity draws more insects to grow, benefitting the soil by the generation of Nitrogen. Another example of the capillary is insects like Bees, Moths, and other pollination involving insects that use their string and long proboscis which they use for honey soaking. Causing the flower to pollinate.

This mechanism helps the insects to sustain their life along with maintaining the balance of the whole ecosystem as we eat the fruits and vegetables from them.

Capillarity In Animals

Capillarity in animals

The purpose of capillarity in the animal body is somewhat similar to capillarity in nature. Blooded animals have to control their body temperature to survive. These temperatures can reduce and increase based on many factors. Capillarity helps to sync these factors for a sustained life.

Blood Circulation

If we take the human body to show its capillary actions the first and foremost important use of capillary action is blood circulation. Blood contains particles of oxygen, nutrients, and hormones in the body’s cells and removes waste products. Also, the food we digest releases vitamins, protein, and other nutrients which get mixed with blood and circulate to all cells.

If there was no capillarity system, then these tasks were not possible to happen.

In The Digestive System

Just like plants animals too needs food for sustaining life. After eating, they go to our digestive system. There takes place the formula for differencing food nutrition such as vitamin, acids, protein and other food qualities. Capillary action helps draw these nutrients across the thin walls of the digestive walls of the stomach, allowing the food ingredients to be transported throughout the body to support various physiological functions.

Medicine Implementation

Water’s capillarity allows many different substances to dissolve in water. This same formula works for the way human takes medicine and their effectiveness. Medicines contain particular ingredients which attack particular cells of our body. After you take medicine, similar to food digestion, the medicine ingredients dissolve and gets mixed with body enzyme. Blood cells transport them to directed cell areas.

Importance of Capillarity to Sustain Life

If you think deeply about the first stage in almost every food cycle you will be able to notice that it all starts from plants. The Earth is still sustainable for life because there are plants that give us food, store the carbon we release, and give us Oxygen which we inhale to be alive. Considering some other factors too, if we analyze enough it is like an infinite truth in Earth’s Bible.

Capillary Action is helping the plants to grow by managing water and other nutrients from the soil and even transporting them to every leaf. All carbon in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates is derived from photosynthesis in plants. Everything we eat, including meat from animals (which feed on plants) is a result of plants.

Also, we even step aside the fact of plants by considering animals only. It is still the capillarity that is helping us with separating nutrition from foods and it’s spreading out to the whole body through blood circulation.

So it can be conclusive that capillarity is one of the most important bases for sustaining life on Earth.


1. What happens to water in the atmosphere as it rises?

The atmosphere works as an invisible free highway for the waters to move around the world. Sunlight heat makes the surface water vaporized which becomes part of the cloud and eventually comes back again to the surface as raindrops.

2. What is the function of roots for plants?

The purpose of roots is they function as a base for plants and trees. Retains water and other minerals from soil, store and conducts them to stems.

3. How does capillary action help humans?

Capillary action causes the water to flow between sleek channels. For humans, it carries the food nutrients along with the blood to every cell. Without them, our brains will not be able to receive-process-save data to and from our cells.

Final Thoughts

Plants and trees couldn’t have thrived without capillarity action. The process of photosynthesis for plants needs more or less 16 types of elements from the air, sunlight, and soil. Of them, almost 13 types of elements come from soil which is retained by plants’ roots. Capillary action helps the plants to soak water along with necessary elements from the soil. Without plants, no ecosystem will sustain, and neither there will be any animals and humans.

Also, any living thing that breathes and eats food to sustain itself needs the help of capillarity. In short, Capillarity action syncs and balances the base standing to create an environmental life cycle where life is sustainable.


Todd Smith is a trained ecologist with five years of experience in environmental conservation and sustainability. He has a deep passion for promoting sustainable practices and has developed a thorough understanding of the natural world and its complex interconnections.

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