The wicking of a model yield-stress fluid (hair-gel solution in water) in a capillary tube is studied experimentally. By changing the hair-gel concentration in the solution, the yield stress varied from 5 to 20 Pa. A simple force balance between capillary and viscous forces suggests that the fluid should stop flowing as soon as the wall shear stress reaches the yield value, at a critical distance from the inlet which is independent of the tube diameter. However, this theoretical argument is not confirmed by experiments, which show that the fluid moves well beyond the critical distance determined theoretically, and that there is a well-defined effect of the tube diameter. It is proposed that such behavior may be determined by wall slip, which causes the flow to switch from the Poiseuille flow regime to the plug flow regime.

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