Did you know you can learn how to make instant ice in 5 seconds? It’s true! There is such a thing as instant ice. But it’s not magic, it’s just science!
The instant ice science experiment is a super fun science demonstration that kids of all ages will love. It’s one of our favorite winter STEM activities that we repeat year after year!
Read on to learn how to make your very own instant ice tower!
Instant Ice Science
There are a lot of instant ice tutorials online and instant ice is a common edition in magic shows.
But of course, it’s not magic that makes the ice form, but science. The secret to instant ice is simply nucleation.
How to turn water into ice instantly
Nucleation is a process by which one small action starts a chain reaction.
Bottled water is free of impurities. This is the secret to the instant ice experiment.
Because bottled water doesn’t have any particles to start the nucleation process, the water can cool to less than zero degrees Fahrenheit before ice crystals form.
But, once you introduce a crystal particle, the nucleation process begins and ice crystals form in the water.
Basically, when you freeze purified water, it is suspended in an almost-ice state until something triggers the nucleation process.
When you hit the bottled water, the water molecules bounce off of one another, forming instant ice crystals.
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Instant Ice Science Questions
Here are some questions you can ask that will transform this science demonstration into a science experiment.
- What was the optimum temperature of the water?
- How long did the reaction last?
- How long did it take the water to reach the instant ice stage?
- Will the experiment work with tap water or rainwater?
Don’t forget to record your data in a science notebook!
Making an Instant Ice Tower
Follow along with our directions to complete your own instant ice science experiment.
What you’ll need to make instant ice
You will need these supplies to make an instant ice tower:
- Ice cubes
- Bottled, purified water
- Tray or plate
How to Make Instant Ice in 5 Seconds
Because instant ice can be tricky, it’s best to over-prepare for this experiment. We usually put half a dozen bottles or so in the freezer.
Freezer temperatures vary, but it usually takes anywhere from an hour to three hours to get to the instant ice stage.
You can test if the ice is ready for the instant ice experiment by hitting one of the bottles on the counter. If it freezes instantly, the ice is ready.
If it stays liquid, your water isn’t cold enough.
Once the bottles are ready, move quickly.
Set up your ice tower experiment station by placing an ice cube inside your jar. Place the jar on a plate or tray to catch messes.
If you want a really tall tower, flip your jar upside down.
Carefully carry the bottles to your instant ice station. Gently open the bottle and pour the water onto the ice cube.
Watch as an ice tower forms before your eyes!
Winter STEM Activities by Grade Level
Try these winter STEM activities for each grade level!