Supercool Science Trick: How to Turn Water into Ice on Command

How to Turn Water into Ice on Command

This is an awesome little science trick that has to be seen to be believed. Simply by emptying a bottle of "supercooled" water into a glass, you can watch it turn into ice right as your pour! It's no magic trick or chemical craziness—it's normal water and you can try it yourself right in your own home.

The scientific concept behind the phenomenon is known as "supercooling," and in layman's terms, it's the process of lowering the temperature of a liquid below its normal freezing point, but without it actually freezing. It can be pretty tricky, but you don't need anything more than a freezer and some water bottles to try it out.

Components

  • 1 full water bottle (filtered water, no flavored or mineral)
  • 1 empty water bottle
  • Some tap water
  • A freezer

Step 1: Freeze Water

Fill the empty water bottle with ordinary tap water. This bottle won't actually be "supercooled", because tap water doesn't work, but it will help us determine the amount of time the filtered water needs to be in the freezer. Take both full bottles of water and place them in the freezer. Let them sit for at least two hours before taking them out.

Step 2: Check Them Every 10 Minutes

The tap water should completely freeze before the filtered water. Once the tap water has frozen, you're good to go. If you miss this window and the filtered water has frozen, you will need to thaw both and start all over again. The idea is to get the filtered water chilled to just before the freezing point.

Step 3: Impress Your Friends

Pour out the supercooled filtered water and watch the insanity. Your friends will think you're a wizard. You can also just smack the bottle to turn it into ice instantly, like so...

This process will work with other beverages, too, like beer, but the trick with any of them is figuring out the exact right moment to pull them out. Wait too long and you'll just have a frozen chunk of boring ice. No one's impressed by that.

5 Comments

I use to store 5 gal water jugs in the garage for water dispenser. I forgot about the outside temps as winter was approaching. When it came time to bring one in, I realized we had a streak of out-of-season freeze week or so. Sure enough all the jugs had bursted or deformed except for one which was still liquid. I immediately figured it was super cooled; I knew if I had disturbed the water it would start forming. Sure enough, I picked the jug up and ice started forming, so I ran the jug inside to show the rest of the family a spectacular science phenomena that last nearly a minute before the bottle solidified (and started deforming the jug, so it made its way back outside, just in case). One of the coolest things to experience.

Cool story. Thanks for sharing. It doesn't get that cold around here, and my freezer is pretty small, otherwise I'd try supercooling my 5-gallon water jugs.

i dont think that it is true,maybe he put some polymer into the plate,so it will absorbe the water and form like an ice.

I don't see why it couldn't be true, super cooling water is a very real thing

This only works if the water and the vessel have zero impurities (distilled water). But you can do this same trick with tap water; here's how:

-Fill a 500ml water bottle completely with cold tap water.

-Fill a 500ml water bottle with HOT tap water, but don't fill it completely, leave a 100ml gap of air at the top. Shake the hot water bottle to heat up the 100ml of air in it, you should notice the bottle trying to expand slightly, and becoming more firm. Quickly open and close the bottle to release this build up of pressure.

-Place the bottles in sub-zero conditions (ideal temperature is about -7C; too warm and it will take forever, too cold and it will freeze unless you are checking it every 10 minutes).

-Go out and check them every so often. Your hot water bottle should start to shrink, like someone squeezed all the air out of it.

-Wait until the cold water bottle is completely frozen (not just starting to freeze, but completely frozen. the hot water bottle needs time to catch up because it started out hotter)

-Open the hot water bottle. Air will rush in and the bottle will bounce back into shape, and the water inside will quickly turn into ice.

This demonstrates the varying freezing/melting points of water at different air pressures; the hot water in the bottle has less pressure on it because the 100ml of hot air in it cooled, and shrunk, thus creating a partial vacuum inside the bottle, and lowering the freezing point of the water.

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