Have you ever wondered how those spikes are formed on ice in your ice cube trays or outside when it freezes?
The picture above is the seat of one of my kids’ outdoor toys.
You may not realize it from the picture, but that spike is over 2 inches high!
We get lots of those around our house when we have rain and then freezing temperatures… Which happens frequently in the South. The weather can’t seem to make up it’s mind.
Even if you don’t live where you have that kind of weather, you have probably still seen ice spikes. They sometimes form in ice cube trays if you use distilled water and every now and then with tap water as well. If you have a newer refrigerator and don’t need ice cube trays, I highly recommend you fill one up (with distilled water) just so you can show your kids the ice spikes.
So, how in the world do they form? This is something that really intrigued my kids. When the kids see something like this they are interested in, we generally check out the good old internet to figure it out. That’s what we did this time too. And it ended up being a great Science lesson!
First of all, there are still a lot of questions regarding ice spikes in the Science world. We don’t know everything there is to know about how they are formed. In this post, I will share with you what we do know.
They are apparently fairly rare in nature, so we should feel lucky we got to see them at our house!
Do you know how water freezes?
Using an ice cube tray as an example… The water on the sides and top of each cube freeze first, leaving a small hole in the middle of the top of what will be the ice cube. If you have ever taken an ice cube tray out early, you have probably seen what I’m talking about.
As you may already know, when water (and other liquids) freezes, it expands.
When the water on the inside of the cube begins to freeze, it expands. Since it is surrounded on all the sides and bottom, the only place it has to go is up and out of that hole that was left on the top layer.
Can you picture what I’m talking about?
I found this really great illustration on snowcrystals.com to help with all you visual learners.
Click on that link above the picture if you want more scientific reasons for spike formations. If you like my rambling on… continue reading. ;)
If you are still reading this, I thank you… there’s really not much more to it, so you won’t be here much longer.
Okay! As I was saying, as the water in the middle freezes, it expands up and out of that hole in the top of the ice cube. It continues to do that until there is a cool spike coming out! Cool, right!?
Pretty simple. I love being able to incorporate new things into our school that we run across in our daily life. I hope this has helped you and your kids learn something new today, too!