Super Cool Supercooling Science

Super Cool Supercooling Science

Super Cool Supercooling Science 1200 800 admin

Elsa isn’t the only one with freezing powers! With a little supercooling science action, anyone can turn water to ice with just a touch.


What you need:

  • Bottles of distilled or purified water
  • Freezer
  • Ice cube
  • Plate


What you do:

Place a few unopened bottles of distilled or purified water into your freezer on their sides. Let them sit undisturbed for 2-3 hours. It’s very important to not jostle or touch them while they cool down!

After a few hours, carefully take the water bottles out of the freezer. If the water is frozen, it is likely the bottle was either bumped at some point. If it is not, however, you’re in for a treat!

Carefully open a water bottle. Place an ice cube on a plate and pour the supercooled water onto the ice cube. The water will freeze on contact, building a little ice mountain! Put some snow on your finger and try touching the water while it is still in the bottle. It’ll freeze immediately!


Questions to consider:

  1. Why don’t you think the water froze in the freezer?
  2. Why do you think it froze when the bottle was poured on to ice or shaken?
  3. Do you think this would work with tap or mineral water?


Why it works:

In order to supercool water, the temperature needs to drop below freezing point. This only works with purified forms of water because tap and mineral water contain impurities that lower the freezing point and can act as nucleation sites for crystallization. Ice crystals can form on something as small as a speck of dust! Purified forms of water do not have any impurities on which ice crystals can form.

When the supercooled water is touched to ice, where ice crystals already exist, the crystallization can begin. This ripples through the rest of the water, freezing it almost immediately.