Science with Shields: Episode #61 – Ice Melts

Science with Shields

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — In this episode of Science with Shields, Christy Shields shows you how to find what melts ice the fastest.

What you need: 

  1. Ice cubes
  2. Cups
  3. Marker
  4. Salt
  5. Sugar


First take 5 cups and label one the control, the next one as hot water, one as cold water, the next one as salt, and finally sugar. Next, drop an ice cube into each cup. With the control, just move it to the side, this will show you how an ice cube will melt naturally. Next, put a tablespoon of hot water onto the ice cube in the cup labeled hot water. On the ice cube in the cup labeled cold water, put a tablespoon of cold water. In the cup labeled salt, put a tablespoon of salt onto the ice cube. Finally, in the cup that is labeled sugar pour a tablespoon of sugar onto the ice cube in that cup. Now observe what the ice looks like, let the cups sit, and check back at 15 minutes, a half an hour, and then at an hour. Observe which ice cubes have melted the most.


The ice cube that should melt the fastest is the hot water, but remember, putting hot water on your ice outside will melt it, but then it will refreeze, so not the best option. The sugar also melted the ice cube, but the salt melted it more. Salt is the best to use to melt ice because it lowers the freezing point. What does that mean? It means with the solution of water and salt, that solution lowers the freezing point to below the ice’s temperature. So instead of the freezing point being at 32°F, it makes it be at a lower temperature keeping your sidewalks less icy. This is called the freezing point depression. Now, table salt will not lower the freezing point enough, you’ll need to get the salt at the hardware or grocery store.

Check out more Science with Shields episodes on WTAJ Plus.

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