I remember reading a thread here on PF about how paper towels can absorb water. I think the answer was that the towel releases potential energy stored in the towel and lifts the water to a higher potential energy. Let's examine the situation before and after the absorption. Before, the water has a lot of freedom of movement and shape. After, it is held in place by the towel, severely decreasing it's freedom of movement. The towel itself does not change during the process (except for the areas where water is stored). It seems to me that the entropy has decreased during this process. But that can't be, so I must be missing something. Is heat released during the absorption? Am I not concidering the complete system? Any help will be appreciated.