The Relationship Between Toilet Paper Ply and Strength

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Updated on Aug 20, 2013

Toilet paper with more layers, or ply, is more expensive. Is the cost really worth the difference when it comes to the strength of the toilet paper?


How does the ply-number of toilet paper correlate to its strength?


  • 1, 2, & 3-ply toilet paper
  • Water
  • Dropper
  • Pennies
  • Empty soup can
  • Rubber band


  1. Roll out three sections of each type of toilet paper.
  2. Observe the paper’s thickness, softness, and texture.
  3. Position the 1-ply piece so that the middle section is covering the top of the can. The perforated lines and the other 2 sections should be on each side of the can.
  4. Place the rubber band around the can to hold the paper in place.
  5. Use the dropper to wet the middle of the bridged section of paper with 0.6 mL of water.
  6. Begin placing pennies on the dampened section one at a time.
  7. Continue placing the pennies until the paper breaks and the pennies fall into the can.
  8. Record your data.
  9. Repeat the experiment using the 2-ply and 3-ply paper.
  10. Analyze your data. Which ply of toilet paper held the most pennies before breaking? How does the number of pennies held correlate to the strength of the paper? Is there a relationship between the ply number and the strength? Do you think the texture of the paper affects the strength?

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