Science with Shields: Episode #33 – Supercooled Water

Science with Shields

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — In this episode of Science with Shields, Christy Shields shows you how to instantly freeze a water bottle.

What you need: 

  1. Distilled Water or Reverse osmosis water bottle (Example, Fiji Water)
  2. Normal bottled water
  3. Freezer


    Stick your distilled water bottle and also a normal water bottle in the freezer. Make sure they will not be disturbed and put them in horizontally lying down instead of vertically up. Next, let them in the freezer for around two hours. You’ll be able to tell when they are ready to be taken out because your normal water bottle will be frozen, but the other one will still be liquid water. Next, pull the liquid water bottle out of the freezer carefully, then with force, set it onto your counter-top or table and watch it instantly freeze!


    How can water be left in a freezer and not freeze? It is pretty cool how this works. Pure water without contaminants can go below the freezing mark of 32°F without turning into a solid state and stay as a liquid. This happens because to get ice to form, there needs to be a place where the ice crystal can begin to turn from water to ice, and then it will quickly form. When a water molecule is in its solid state (ice) it has less energy compared to when it is in its liquid state (water). To go from a liquid to a solid, the molecules will lose heat and energy. When you slam down the water bottle or open it, it disturbs the water allowing it to quickly form ice crystals to freeze the bottle. When water is turning from a liquid to a solid, this does take energy and releases heat. You’ll notice after the reaction, it will still be a bit slushy and will not be solid ice, that is because it warmed up the rest of the water to form the ice crystals. Supercooled water can exist up until -55°F. We find supercooled water droplets in stratus and cumulus clouds. 

    Check out more Science with Shields episodes on WTAJ Plus.

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