The tensile strength of water increases when solid particles are filtered out, and it becomes greater the smaller the remaining particles are. Natural particles are of random shape, making parametric studies on the relationship between tensile strength and particle characteristics difficult. In this investigation, using degassed tap water from which natural particles larger than about 1 µm had been filtered out, the tensile strength was measured before and after seeding with almost spherical solid balls of diameters from 3 up to 76 µm. The smallest balls, one type being hydrophobic, the other hydrophilic, had no measurable influence on the tensile strength, though they were notably larger than the remaining natural nuclei. Seeding with the larger balls, hydrophilic as well as hydrophobic ones, reduced the tensile strength compared with that measured for unseeded, filtered water, but at most down to 1/3. On this basis it is concluded that a greater tensile strength is connected to the almost spherical solid balls than that due to natural particles of the same size. The critical cavities developed from the larger balls had radii much smaller than those of the balls themselves. This supports the hypothesis that cavitation nuclei are related to the fine scale surface structures observed on the balls, and in dependence of their global radii of curvature, critical cavities are developed. A model of this development is presented. ©2003 American Institute of Physics.