Supersaturated Solution Crystallizing | The Thinking Blog ~ Knowledge Grows When Shared
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12 July 2007

Supersaturated Solution Crystallizing

Prepare for magic science! Here is a really, really cool experiment you can do at home explained in "plain" English. If you take a cup of water and add salt to it you will notice it's "disappearing." What is going on is that the salt is dissolving into the water. The water molecules are breaking the salt molecule up. If you keep adding salt you will soon notice that it has stopped dissolving. The solution has become saturated, in laymen terms, there is no more room for the salt to dissolve. If you heated the water more salt can be dissolved.
Now, if you take that hot water with more salt in it and cool it, well you just made a super saturated mixture. There is more salt than the water can hold at that temp. in the water. Nothing will happen until you add a seed crystal. If you drop on some salt into the super saturated solution, it will cause the rest of the salt to come out to. Because the salt is evenly distributed it will appear to "freeze" but really it is salt coming out. So, replace the salt with Sodium acetate and BAM, you get HOT ICE!

However, the video failed to mention that he had some Sodium acetate on the tip of his finger. You need a seed crystal to start the reaction. Also it is not really solid ice but more of a mush like mud. A way easer way to get instant freezing water is to take an unopened non flavored water bottle and put it in the freezer for between 40-60 min. Then take it out and shake it, hit it or pour it out. The results are very similar.

Just dont eat it! It's concentrated sodium acetate. Acetate is what makes vinegar unique and gives it its smell and sour taste. Vinegar is 5% acetic acid and 95% water but concentrated acetic acid can drill a hole in your stomach and intestines. So yeah, you probably don't want to ingest something that causes pain, nausea, and vomiting.

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