Ice Ice Baby

By: Sneha Sagi


The experiment I will be testing, will figure out what makes ice melt the fastest. By using quantitative data I will observe what will make the ice melt and how the rise in temperature affects it. The variables of salt, sugar, and sand will be used as I make observations of the ice cubes with time and temperature. The reason for the experiment is for road safety. During the winter the roads freeze over and driving in this weather condition is very dangerous. To find what makes the ice melt the fastest is important in order to ensure better driving conditions, thereby reducing accidents.

In the experiment, the ice cubes will be made up of distilled water. Why use distilled water instead of bottled water? Distilled water is the purest form of water because it typically has the lowest levels of contaminants and minerals. Drinking water, such as bottled water, is considered fit for human consumption and comes from different sources. Although distilled water is used for household needs such as ironing or steam cleaning, other types of water are more often consumed as drinking water. Distilled water is made by boiling water and collecting the steam as it condenses. Minerals, most contaminants, and chemicals are left behind.

To figure out the fastest way to make ice melt, we have to understand how ice melts. Water, the liquid form of ice, is made up of tiny particles. These tiny particles move around when water is in it’s liquid form. As the temperature gets lower and colder, they slow down and the particles begin to move less. Once the temperature is cold enough, the particles will move so little that they will stick together. The tiny particles of water sticking together is ice. Ice melts when the temperature warms up. The particles separate and start moving around again, turning back into water.

To figure out how to melt ice the quickest, in the experiment we will use different variables. A variable is the factor controlled, changed, or measured in an experiment. The independent variable is the one condition you change in the experiment. In this experiment we will use salt, sugar, and sand to see which one will make the ice melt the fastest. To figure out which one was the fastest we will measure or observe using quantitative data. This data will be based on the time and temperature which is the dependent variable in the experiment. All the ice cubes will be the same size and will be made with distilled water. These are the controlled variable, the variables that will not change during an experiment. To compare our data, the control group will be an ice cube without salt, sugar, or sand. This is an independent variable with no changes. By knowing the variables and their relation in this lab, the procedure can give the best results possible.

When ice freezes up the roads, salt is used to melt it. Ice forms when the temperature of water reaches 32 degrees fahrenheit. The salt dissolves into the liquid water in the ice and lower’s it’s freezing point. By lowering the freezing point ice in unable to form. By taking advantage of the lower melting point, we use ice to melt the roads and sidewalks for safety.

When liquid water freezes into ice, loose water molecules arrange themselves into a more ordered structure. Salt slows this process. When you add salt to the road, you’re adding impurities to the water. You disrupt the water’s ability to form ice. As salt dissolves in water, it breaks down 2 ions, these ions are foreign particles in the water, they disperse the water. By pushing the molecules apart, it harder for ice to form.

If salt is such a good, cheap resource, what is the point of trying other variables? Salt water runoff can contaminate soil and kill plants along the edge of the highway. This brings environmental concerns. Salt can leak into groundwater and contaminate rivers and lakes. Would finding another variable help solve these problems?

If the temperature of the roadway is lower than 15 degrees fahrenheit, then the salt won't have any effect. The solid salt cannot get into the structure of the solid water, ice, to start the dissolving process. In that case, spreading sand over the top of the ice to provide traction is a better option. Sand can melt ice if it is heated up naturally from the sun or another warm temperature. This can also happen with any other substance that is warmer than ice. The actual texture of sand does not cause ice to melt. This is why you would have to place a layer of warm sand on ice for it to melt. The sand could similarly cause the ice to melt quicker if it was placed on the ice and then in direct sunlight, as sand heats very quickly under the sun.

Sand can’t melt ice on its own unless it has been heated by the sun, but it may prevent more ice from forming. Placing a coat of sand on roads layered with ice may reduce the amount of ice that can form on top of the sand. This happens because sand particles are extremely small and tiny, making them hard to keep down with substances such as ice. Natural elements such as wind or rain may cause sand to move continuously, keeping the surface of the road from becoming substantially covered in ice. It may not prevent any ice from forming on the road, but it can slow down the buildup of the ice. The sand is put there to provide some traction on the ice. Without sand, an icy road would be extremely dangerous, leading to many accidents. However, by placing a thick layer of sand on the ice, the highway patrol is able to provide a makeshift form of gravel during cold winters.

Sugar can also melt ice away. In fact, any substance capable of being dissolved in water, will melt ice. Like, salt, sugar melts ice by lowering water’s melting or freezing points. When sugar is placed on ice, it dissolves and messes with the water molecules. Which is needed to bind ice crystals in order to freeze. Sugar’s presence requires the temperature to be much colder before the water molecules can touch the ice crystals. While sugar will melt ice, it still isn’t as efficient as salt, which breaks down into sodium and chloride ions. Another major reason for the preference of salt over sugar is that sugar is more expensive, making it impractical for many people to use. So which one is better, salt, sand, or sugar?


If a test is conducted to see what makes ice melt the fastest, then I hypothesize that salt would be the best variable.



  • Distilled Water

  • Ice Rack

  • Salt

  • Sugar

  • Sand

  • 4 bowls

  • Timer (Stop-Watch)


  • Independent Variable

    • Salt

    • Sugar

    • Sand

  • Dependent Variable

    • Time

  • Control Group

    • Ice cube with no Independent Variable

  • Constant Variables

    • Amount of Ice

    • Size of the Ice Cube

    • Type of water Ice Cube is made from (Distilled Water)

    • Amount of Independent Variable (Salt/Sugar/Sand) put on each Ice Cube.

    • Size of bowls

    • Temperature of the ice cube

    • Temperature of melted water


  1. Place distilled water in ice rack. (Make sure all the ice cubes are the same size)

  2. Place ice rack in the freezer and wait till the water turns into ice.

  3. Label each bowl with the independent variable that will be put inside (One bowl will have no variable)

  4. Place one ice cube into the bowl marked Salt.

  5. Add half a teaspoon (1.25mL) of salt in the bowl marked salt

  6. Measure the time its takes for the ice cube to fully melt into water..

  7. Record the measurement of the time into your data table.

  8. Place one ice cube into the bowl marked Sugar.

  9. Add half a teaspoon (1.25mL) of sugar in the bowl marked Sugar

  10. Measure the time its takes for the ice cube to fully melt into water.

  11. Record the measurement of the time into your data table.

  12. Place one ice cube into the bowl marked Sand.

  13. Add half a teaspoon (1.25mL) of sand in the bowl marked Sand

  14. Record the measurement of the time into your data table.

  15. Place one ice cube into the bowl marked no variable.

  16. Measure the time its takes for the ice cube to fully melt into water.

  17. Record the measurement of the time into your data table.

  18. Repeat this process until all of the data table is full (Make more ice if needed)


Melting of Ice in Different Substances (minutes and seconds)







55 min. 49 sec.

61 min. 54 sec.

64 min. 38 sec.

57 min. 43 sec.


60 min. 13 sec.

62 min. 34 sec.

68 min. 21sec.

61 min. 22 sec.


58 min. 47 sec.

60 min. 51 sec.

71 min. 01sec.

59 min. 03 sec.


65 min. 25 sec.

66 min. 58 sec.

74 min. 18 sec.

67 min. 40 sec.


63 min. 29 sec.

63 min. 51 sec.

70 min. 54 sec.

64 min. 44 sec.


65 min. 15 sec.

64 min. 23 sec.

69 min. 44 sec.

66 min. 52 sec.


59 min. 36 sec.

61 min. 04 sec.

64 min. 60 sec.

60 min. 59 sec.


61 min. 48 sec.

62 min. 16 sec.

63 min. 51 sec.

62 min. 48 sec.


54 min. 53 sec.

60 min. 29 sec.

75 min. 00 sec.

56 min. 02 sec.


57 min. 28 sec.

62 min. 02 sec.

61 min. 57 sec.

59 min. 13 sec.


66 min. 30 sec.

67 min. 14 sec.

69 min. 39 sec.

67 min. 53 sec.


64 min. 41 sec.

66 min. 53 sec.

73 min. 47 sec.

67 min. 03 sec.


57 min. 37 sec.

60 min. 44 sec.

65 min. 08 sec.

59 min. 12 sec.


55 min. 21 sec.

61 min. 04 sec.

63 min. 31 sec.

57 min. 11 sec.


53 min. 45 sec.

59 min. 16 sec.

63 min. 38 sec.

55 min. 53 sec.


58 min. 60 sec.

63 min. 24 sec.

64 min. 08 sec.

57 min. 53 sec.


62 min. 11 sec.

64 min. 14 sec.

70 min. 11 sec.

64 min. 01 sec.


55 min. 05 sec.

60 min. 17 sec.

63 min. 27 sec.

56min. 55 sec.


53 min. 34 sec.

58 min. 31 sec.

64 min. 41 sec.

55 min. 25 sec.


59 min. 44 sec.

62 min. 42 sec.

69 min. 22 sec.

60 min. 43 sec.


52 min. 32 sec.

59 min. 41 sec.

63 min. 04 sec.

54 min. 51 sec.


65 min. 39 sec.

66 min. 03 sec.

72 min. 07 sec.

66 min. 33 sec.


61 min. 59 sec.

62 min. 51 sec.

69 min. 58 sec.

62 min. 31 sec.


50 min. 51 sec.

58 min. 52 sec.

59 min. 49 sec.

52 min. 05 sec.


66 min. 02 sec.

67 min. 21 sec.

73 min. 28 sec.

67 min. 11 sec.


63 min. 43 sec.

65 min. 07 sec.

71 min. 07 sec.

65 min. 15 sec.


68 min. 33 sec.

69 min. 59 sec.

74 min. 51 sec.

69 min. 27 sec.


51 min. 59 sec.

55 min. 32 sec.

63 min. 02 sec.

53 min. 41 sec.


60 min. 12 sec.

62 min. 45 sec.

69 min. 22 sec.

60 min. 23 sec.


57 min. 24 sec.

60 min. 24 sec.

64 min. 29 sec.

59 min. 49 sec.


54 min. 32 sec.

61 min. 14 sec.

63 min. 41 sec.

55 min. 53 sec.


56 min. 09 sec.

61 min. 52 sec.

64 min. 02 sec.

58 min. 01 sec.


58 min. 28 sec.

62 min. 23 sec.

68 min. 13 sec.

59 min. 53 sec.


59 min. 46 sec.

63 min. 02 sec.

66 min. 53 sec.

60 min. 55 sec.


64 min. 60 sec.

66 min. 32 sec.

72 min. 08 sec.

65 min. 23 sec.


61 min. 22 sec.

63 min. 42 sec.

69 min. 06 sec.

63 min. 18 sec.


54 min. 55 sec.

61 min. 09 sec.

63 min. 25 sec.

56 min. 33 sec.


60 min. 31 sec.

62 min. 34 sec.

67 min. 49 sec.

62 min. 31 sec.


61 min. 47 sec.

63 min. 51sec.

68 min. 33 sec.

62 min. 53 sec.


63 min. 49 sec.

62 min. 54 sec.

71 min. 31 sec.

65 min. 21 sec.


66 min. 42 sec.

67 min. 23 sec.

74 min. 04 sec.

67 min. 55 sec.


52 min. 17 sec.

59 min. 54 sec.

61 min. 21 sec.

54 min. 20 sec.


55 min. 44 sec.

60 min. 33 sec.

64 min. 35 sec.

57 min. 37 sec.


59 min. 23 sec.

61 min. 50sec.

66 min. 52 sec.

60 min. 53 sec.


53 min. 32 sec.

60 min. 03 sec.

60 min. 44 sec.

55 min. 41 sec.


57 min. 15 sec.

62 min. 05 sec.

65 min. 51 sec.

58 min. 53 sec.


62 min. 03 sec.

64 min. 07 sec.

71 min. 38 sec.

65 min. 33 sec.


68 min. 00 sec.

68 min. 54 sec.

78 min. 01 sec.

69 min. 05 sec.


51 min. 55 sec.

60 min. 25 sec.

63 min. 29 sec.

55 min. 31 sec.


By adding all the trails for salt and dividing by 50 there was an average of 56 minutes.

By adding all the trails for sugar and dividing by 50 there was an average of 62 minutes.

By adding all the trails for sand and dividing by 50 there was an average of 64 minutes.

By adding all the trails for the constant and dividing by 50 there was an average of 57 minutes.


Temperature was a constant factor during the experiment, the ice cubes were a 32o F and after the experiment the melted water ended up at room temperature (72o F). During the experiment the Salt usually came first, followed by the ice with no independent variable. Next came the variable, sugar, and made sand the slowest out of the four ice cube. The fine brown sand was thicker than the other two substances and fell off the ice cube in some places quickly. The small grain were not able to stick as easily. Both salt and sugar looked the same, white with tiny grains, even smaller than the sand.

Big image


Big image

Statistical Analysis

According to my data the experiment shows that salt is the quickest way to melt the ice cube. This is shown as it was the fastest time at an average of 56 minutes. Since this time is faster than the constant ice cube, the ice cube with no variable, this shows the salt helps melt the ice quicker than normal. This was proven since the average of the constant ice cube was 57 minutes. Both the averages for sugar and sand were slower than the ice cube with no independent variable. This showed that both sugar and sand made the ice melt slower than usual. An ice cube with sugar and sand would slow down the rate at which the ice cube is melting. Between sugar and sand sugar came first with an average of 62 minutes followed by sand with an average of 64 minutes.


Claim: The quickest substance to melt the ice cube was the independent variable, salt.

Evidence: According to my data, the statistics show that on average the salt had the fastest rate, showing that the other ice cubes were slower while melting. Both substances sugar and sand had an average slower than the average of salt, which was 56. Since the average time of an ice cube melting byself was 57 this showed that the salt helped the ice melt faster. The data also showed how the average of sugar, 62, and the average of sand, 64, were not only slower than salt but slower than normal ice cube, with no substance, itself.

Reasoning: Since the ice cube with salt melted the faster than the other variables it not only proves how it is the best option, but shows on average how much quicker it is. Due to the friction of the substance on the surface of the ice cube the sugar and sand were able to melt the ice along with the salt even though the ice melted at a slower pace. While the salt on the ice cube was a substance that made the ice cube melt faster than normal, both the sand and sugar slowed the rate at which the ice cubes melt. It was better to let ice melt by itself then put the substance of sand and sugar. After saying that it is proven that the substance of salt on an ice cube is the quickest way to melt it.


The purpose of the experiment was to find a substance that would melt the ice cube at a faster rate. In this experiment my testing the ice cubes using different variables I proved that salt was the most effective, making my hypothesis true. The data proved the rate of which the ice melts was slower with sugar and sand. An ice cube with no substance also melted slower than the ice cube with the substance of salt. This showed the ice cube sprinkled with the substance of salt was the fastest one to melt completely into water.


In this experiment the ice cubes might not have been the same size. This would make the smaller ice cubes turn into water faster and easier. Another error could have occurred with the timer. The timer could have been a few seconds off making it start late. After watching the ice completely melt, the observer could have no stopped the timer immediately, adding a few seconds to the time. There might have also been not the exact amount of independent variable, salt, sand, or sugar. This would make the cubes with more substance melt faster, no matter which substance it was.


During winter the roads freeze over and it is very dangerous to drive in this condition. Using the results of my experiment, it is proven that salt is the quickest way to melt the ice in these circumstances. Without these results during snow the roads can be very dangerous. The results help solve this problem.


To expand this experiment I could have tested the same variables using tap water to see if the same results happened. This would also improve my experiment by showing that these specific results don’t happen with just distilled water. I would also try doubling the amount of the independent variable to see if how much faster the results would be. By doing this I would know the right amount of each variable to make the ice melt at its fastest rate possible.


"Difference Between Distilled Water & Drinking Water." Healthy Eating. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014.

"How Can Sand Melt Ice?" EHow. Demand Media, 02 Apr. 2009. Web.

"How Does Salt Battle Road Ice?" PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014.

"Science Experiments: What Are Variables?" About. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

"Why Do They Use Salt to Melt Ice on the Road in the Winter?"HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

"Why Does Ice Melt?" Why Does Ice Melt? N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014.