Instant ice experiments are so much fun! For this version, learn how to make rainbow instant ice! It’s a fun colorful twist on a classic!
Follow along with our directions and learn how to make an instant ice rainbow. But first, learn a bit about the science behind instant ice and make sure you have all the supplies you need before getting started!
What is Instant Ice?
Instant ice is a supercooled solution that has a temperature below freezing, but because there are no impurities in the water, it doesn’t freeze for a bit.
If you tap it or pour it out onto an ice cube during this stage, you will be able to pour out water and have it instantly turn to ice!
What Do You Need to Make Instant Ice?
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You just need two things to make rainbow ice.
Liquid food coloring is essential for this experiment or it won’t work.
How does the rainbow instant ice experiment work?
The rainbow instant ice experiment works just like the classic instant ice tower experiment.
Supercooling purified water allows it to cool below freezing, which forms ice quickly when tapped or poured over an ice cube.
The difference is, you’ve added rainbow colors to your water so it’s much, much prettier!
The Science Behind Instant Ice
Usually, freezing water creates ice crystals in the water.
But, ice crystals won’t form as quickly if there is nothing for them to grab onto. Most crystals form around microscopic impurities in tap water and other forms of water.
But if you’re freezing purified or distilled water, your water can get below freezing before it starts to form crystals.
When this happens, your supercooled liquid can harden and form crystals much faster than normal. This is what’s known as a “snap freeze” when it happens in nature.
Get the Instant Ice Science Lab!
Grab this quick instant ice lab for a lesson plan and worksheets to go along with this science activity.
How to Make an Instant Ice Rainbow
Follow along with these directions to make your own instant ice rainbow!
Remember, you have to have super purified water for this experiment to work.
You must use liquid food coloring or your food coloring will introduce impurities to the water and make the experiment not work.
Regardless, you should have several back-up bottles of each color just in case some don’t form right.
When we did our experiment, orange and yellow never really formed the right way, so we were not able to make the complete rainbow.
Put a few drops of food coloring into each bottle.
Seal the bottles tightly and place them in the freezer.
Check on the bottles every 30 minutes to see if they are ready to pour. You can test it by smacking the base of the bottle. If it hardens, the rest of your colors will probably be ready.
Get a large bowl or tray of ice cubes.
Take out the first color of your rainbow (red) and do a slow pour onto your ice cubes. If it’s ready, a red ice tower will form.
Repeat for the rest of the colors.
Even though we tried all day, not all of the colors in our rainbow worked. I believe the food dye put too many impurities in a few colors so that the crystals formed before we could reach the supercooled solution stage.
The blue ice water turned out the best, and had really impressive results!
If your bottles do end up freezing, you can let them thaw and then pop them back into the freezer to try again.
The bottles will warm up quickly, so you only have about a minute to work with each color before it gets too warm.
This project works best if you have several kids doing it at once!