Supercool! Ice Science for Kids

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Under the right conditions, purified water can get much colder than 32 degrees before it freezes into a solid. This “supercooled” water will instantly freeze when it touches an ice crystal.

You don’t need a special lab to make supercooled water. In fact, you can make it in your own freezer!

Image from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

1. Place three 12 oz bottles of water (caps loosened and re-tightened) in the freezer. Two should be filled with purified water and one with tap water.

2. Wait 2 hours and then check them every 5 minutes. When the tap water is frozen, gently remove the other two bottles from the freezer. (Tap water freezes first, because it contains some impurities that help ice crystals form more easily.)

3. Carefully open one bottle of purified water and pour it onto a few ice cubes on a plate. The supercooled water from the bottle will instantly crystallize into ice when it hits the cubes, making slush. Try it with the second bottle. There may be some freezing time variation between freezers, so you may have to experiment to find the perfect amount of time it takes your freezer to supercool water!

You can do the same thing by putting bottled water in a cooler full of ice, salt, and water. Salt lowers the melting temperature of ice, which makes the salty ice water cold enough to freeze bottles of liquid. Try the same experiment using soda to make a slushy! (From Outdoor Science Lab for Kids-Quarry Books 2014)

Image from Outdoor Science Lab for Kids (Quarry Books 2016)

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