Google+ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas: What Melts Ice the Fastest? A Hands-on Science Experiment

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Melts Ice the Fastest? A Hands-on Science Experiment

I can't think of a better way to beat this FL heat and humidity
(besides taking a dip in the pool of course).

It's been awhile since we had fun with a science experiment so I really wanted to incorporate some investigation, experimentation and discovery into our ICY FUN WEEK.

What Melts Ice the Fastest?
A Hands-on Science Experiment

What We Used:
1. hot water
2. salt
3. sugar
4. vinegar
5. baking soda

Prep: Freeze cups of water - 1 for each substance used.

What to Do:

1. Remove ice from cups and put on a dish or tray (be sure it's deep enough to retain the melting ice water).

2. Have substances to be used readily available along with spoons and droppers for pouring. We used measuring scoops and turkey basters. To begin we discussed what we were to do and the Lil Divas made predictions over which items they thought would melt the ice the fastest.

3. Have child(ren) add substances to each ice block and note the immediate reactions. Did it affect the ice? Is it penetrating? Did it cause the ice to melt? 

4. Let sit for approx. 5 minutes. Turn the ice blocks over and repeat - add the substances and discuss any reactions.

5. Let sit for approx. another 5 minutes and discuss what has happened to the ice. Which one is melting the fastest? Slowest? Discuss any noticeable changes - cracks, holes, etc in the ice.

Our Results:

The Lil Divas found that hot water melted our ice the fastest, followed by vinegar, salt (which penetrated the ice and caused lots of holes and cracks) and then sugar (it also penetrated the ice and caused cracks but not nearly as pronounced as the salt). The baking soda had very little effect on the ice. It was the one block of ice that remained pretty intact, melting mostly due to exposure to the heat in the room and the other liquids in the pan.

The Lil Divas enjoyed our icy experiment. We ended up watching the ice melt to its complete liquid form at their request, while they continued to scoop the different substances on the ice. I think they rather enjoyed the concoction the whole thing was making since we inevitably ended up with some fizz from the baking soda and vinegar being so close together and mingling in the pan.

Be sure to discuss if the predictions made were correct and what was learned. The Lil Divas were quite surprised that baking soda had little to no effect on the ice and that sugar did in fact make cracks in the ice. They initially thought the sugar would have little effect and that the baking soda would - I think that stemmed from all of our past baking soda & vinegar experiments.  

Do you know of any other substances that have an interesting effect on ice?



  1. I am surprised too that the baking soda had no effect. Very cool experiments. Will pin this!

    1. Rebekah, I was too actually but it really just sat on top of the ice and didn't do much at all. Thanks for pinning!

  2. We have this experiment on the list for this summer. Can't wait to try it ourselves. Looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh, Shelle be sure to let me know what you use to melt the ice. I'd love to hear about your results!

  3. How fun! We LOVE melting ice. I love the experiment. I don't think my boys would be able to handle letting the experiment sit for five minutes, though. ;)

    1. Allison, that part was hard for my girls too. We set the kitchen timer and went to do something else (snack, game, etc) and the time passed quickly.

  4. What fun. We love ice, it is always hot here in GA too. We haven't done a set up like this we may have to try it. Thanks for sharing-FSPDT

  5. Wonderful experiment! My son is barely 3 and wouldn't understand the science behind this, will save this activity for next year :) thanks again!

  6. Thanks for sharing this on Hey Mom, Look What I Did at Adventures In Mommy Land!!

  7. Kid's find science so interesting when they get to experience a cause and reaction. You could also add an extra plain ice cube that's just left on it's own as a test subject and see how long that takes to melt. Then you can add in the extra question of whether the kids think each added substance will make it's cube melt quicker or slower than the test subject. :) Pinning this.

  8. Oooh a fantastic experiment!

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  9. great activity,thanks so much for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  10. Findings
    first came along the hot water -it took about 1 minute till the ice cube melted
    as you said the salt is breaking up into little bits and then it just smashed
    the vinger is just shrinking it
    the saguar is getting yellow and slowley its melting
    the baking soda is just sitting there
    it looks like the baking soda is a lake and the lake is crakeing
    the vinger and salt was a tie it melted at the same time
    my perdiction is that the baking soda is going to come in next and then the sagur

  11. Thank you for such a great experiment. I'm using this in my sons 1st grade class this week, highlighting the season "Summer". We are adding a hairdryer to the experiment to show that even though other things melt the ice, heat is always the fastest. My son thought this was so awesome at home...I can't wait to show his whole class! BTW - it took the blowdryer 5 minutes to melt completely whereas no other ingredient was close.

  12. Really cool experiment.

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