Information about Super cool water with Fizzics Education | Kids Science Experiments

Supercooled Water Can Make Instant Ice Crystals

Supercooled Water Can Make Instant Ice Crystals

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

Four bottles of very pure water. Distilled water is best.

One plate

A freezer

Supercool water science experiment - bottles of spring water
1 Supercool water science experiment - labels removed

Take the labels off the bottles of water.


Place the bottles in a freezer and leave it undisturbed for several hours.


Once the bottles have cooled, gently removed the bottles from the freezer.


Shake one of the bottles and watch the ice crystals form instantly.


Try stirring one of the bottles with a straw, or try adding a piece of ice or dirt into the solution.

6 Supercool water science experiment - ice tower formed

Try carefully pouring out one of the bottles into the bowl.

Why Does This Happen?

Ice generally forms on microscopic scratches and bumps called nucleation sites. Nucleation sites, or ‘bumps’, occur within most containers with imperfections – even dissolved impurities such as calcium or even air bubbles act as nucleation sites for ice to form. If you remove the nucleation sites from the water, the water cannot form ice crystals easily.

Normally, pure water (without impurities) will form ice crystals at 0 degrees Celsius or lower.
However if pure water is cooled down very slowly, in a very smooth container with no dust inside, you can make water stay a liquid at temperatures below zero. Supercooled solutions are very unstable. Introducing air bubbles or a seeding crystal into the solution causes the liquid water to rapidly freeze. 

Be aware that supercooling is different from freezing point depression. Freezing point depression occurs when you dissolve an ionic solid such as salt in water. A salt water solution will have a lower freezing point than pure water – do the experiment and find out for yourself!

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