Supercool

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

My posts have been spotty this summer, since I’ve been busy working on a follow up to Kitchen Science Lab for Kids. ¬†Yesterday we supercooled water to see what would happen. It was tricky to get the temperature just right, but when we did, this is what happened!

To supercool water, chill purified water in your freezer, or in a cooler with salt water and ice. Chill an equal volume of tap water in the same cooler. Keep an eye on it. When the tap water is completely frozen, but the purified water isn’t, the purified water should be supercooled. Carefully remove it from the cooler, gently remove the lid and slowly pour it over an ice cube to duplicate the experiment above. If you drop it or jar it, it will probably freeze and you won’t be able to use it.

Without a trigger for crystal formation, motionless water molecules can remain in a liquid state below the normal freezing temperature of water. In this experiment, tap water freezes first since ice crystals often form on impurities in the water. Other ice crystals quickly form around the seed crystals, eventually freezing the entire bottle into solid ice.

In supercooled purified water, a crystal lattice of ice can also begin to form at the result of motion, or impact. Once crystal formation begins at a single spot, all of the other supercooled water molecules snap into formation, forming solid ice.

Try it! It may take more than one attempt for a great result, so freeze several bottles at a time.

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