Why does water makes things soft?

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Paper is able to hold form and can be rigid, get it wet: soft.

Cooking noodles, add hot water to rehydrate them: soft.

Washing dishes with hard stuck on food? Soak in water, suddenly it’s soft and can be cleaned easily.

How is water so magical that it can soften other material?

Tagged as chemistry because it’s my best guess.

In: Chemistry
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different things are able to absorb liquids better. the more air bubbles within the material, the more space water can take when it absorbs it. the added water into those pockets of air makes the material heavier and slightly more flexible, making it feel “softer”. a sponge will absorb water better than a metal would, which is why the sponge becomes “soft”. you can look at the sponge and see the pockets of air. imagine that but smaller on pretty much everything, just some materials will have fewer or smaller pockets.