Why Ice Floats
Ice is the solid state of water. Ice floats because frozen water is not denser than its liquid form. This happens because water does not follow the basic principle of thermodynamics. In other words, a solid is heavier than its liquid counterpart and should sink. However, ice has a unique molecular structure that allows it to float.
The structure of the common water molecule is simple. Many people know its chemical designation as H2O. This means a molecule of water has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. While the two hydrogen atoms attract to the single oxygen atom, they also push away from each other. This causes a single water molecule to adopt a triangular shape.
When water is frozen, the molecules are forced to pack in very tightly to each other, eliminating as much space between them as possible. Ice may look and feel solid enough, but it's actually made up of a lot of empty spaces. The triangular shape of ice's molecules keeps them apart and creates a tightly knit latticework instead of a dense solid structure. When water is frozen, it actually decreases in density and increases in volume, which makes it much lighter than its liquid form.
So it's water's unique molecular shape that allows ice to be lighter than water and float.
- Photo Credit http://www.divequest.co.uk/holiday_images/ai2_63.jpg
Why Is Hot Water Less Dense Than Cold Water?
Hot and cold water are both liquid forms of H2O, but they have different densities due to the effect of heat on...
How to Make an Egg Float in a Glass of Water
If you put an egg into a glass of water, it sinks. You can make the egg float by changing the structure...
How to Explain to Preschoolers Why Oil Floats in Water
Teaching children about science should begin as early as preschool. The concepts you introduce should be simple and easy for the children...
How to Make Water Float on Water for a Science Project
Water is an important substance. It covers 70% of the world's surface, and is vital for human and mammal survival. When water...
Why Does Dry Ice Sink?
Dry ice sinks in water because the density of dry ice, which is 1.2 grams-per-centimeter cubed, is greater than the density of...
Why Does a Helium Balloon Rise?
A helium balloon rises because helium is less dense than air, which contains oxygen and nitrogen. Helium is a lighter and smaller...
Why Does Ice Float?
Ice floats in water because when water is frozen, it expands and gets less dense. Anything that is less dense will float...