Kimberley Sullivan's Blog

Supercooled Water Experiment = Too Cool!

Posted on: January 27, 2013

I recently received this video from one of my Boom listeners in Australia (Hi Dean Brooks!) — he was asking if this really happened to water bottles in cold weather and how could it be possible. Lucky for Dean, I was just as curious and looked into it.

Before explaining the process — here is the video he sent in: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=aff_1352963883

Isn’t that awesome?! Well, what happens is that the water was “supercooled”. What’s that? Here is an explaination from a science website:

Water normally freezes when it is cooled below 0C, forming ice crystals. Ice crystals form more easily when they grow on existing ice crystals. It doesn’t take much to start the crystallization process going — a little piece of dust or other impurity in the water, or even a scratch on the bottle. The process of starting off a crystal is called “nucleation.”

In the absence of impurities in the water and imperfections in the bottle, the water can get “stuck” in its liquid state as it cools off, even below its freezing point. The water will stay liquid until something comes along to nucleate crystal growth. A speck of dust, a flake of frost from the screw-cap falling into the bottle or the bubbles formed by shaking the bottle are enough to get the freezing going, and the crystals will build on each other and spread through the water in the bottle.

Interesting, no?!

Kim 😉

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