Ponder This…Does Hot Or Cold Water Freeze Faster?

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WEST MICHIGAN — There’s nothing real scientific about our experiment in this Arctic blast, it’s more of just a “did you know” or here’s what we found. Which will freeze faster a glass of hot water or a glass of cold water?

Intuitively we’d probably all the say the glass of cold water. That glass is closer to freezing, doesn’t need to cool down as much, and will therefore probably freeze faster. That said, hot water needs to cool down first before it can freeze right?

I ran across several articles written about something called the Mpemba Effect. In short, hot water can freeze faster than cold water in some instances but not every time. It depends on several things such as container size and shape, the amount of dissolved gas, the actual vapor or gas, evaporation, convection, the mass of the water as it cools, and supercooling where water can exist in a liquid state below 32 degrees.

It’s all far too technical, somewhat confusing, and beyond my realm of expertise, but you’ll find an article here regarding the Mpemba Effect which actually includes the making of ice cream and how this “effect” came to be. A far more descriptive and technical analysis can be found here.

Most scientists can agree the debate will continue on this subject and it’s still not completely understood. I suppose it’s not important to the average viewer unless you’ve got a hot cup of coffee in one hand and a milkshake in the other wondering which will freeze first, but it’s always fun to address a topic that people have heard about but perhaps never really gave much thought to.

If you missed FOX 17 News at Five on Monday, we also took a plain cotton t-shirt, soaked it in water, and placed it on a hanger outside. Again, nothing scientific, we simply wanted to see how long it would take to freeze. It might be equivalent (to some degree) of snowblowing/shoveling the driveway and getting wet. The shirt froze like a piece of cardboard in minutes. That said, make sure to dress accordingly the next two days with weatherproof/waterproof clothes in layers.

By the way…my water experiment yielded the following result: after 35 minutes the plastic glass full of COLD water begin to develop a skin of ice. So yes…it beat the hot water. Make sure to check current temperatures and wind chills at www.fox17online.com/weather.

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1 Comment

  • Randy Sheldon

    Of course, if the cup of hot water was poured onto a cookie sheet, and the cup of cold water was in a glass mug, the hot water on the cookie sheet would freeze first right? More surface area means the atmosphere has a greater impact. Does this sounds right?