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I put a water bottle in the freezer but it didn't freeze, but then...? Answered

I took it out and unscrewed the cap, and then bam the whole thing inside froze and it started from the top straight down like a loading bar. Anybody know what just happened?

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frollardBest Answer (author)2009-03-17

Indeed. The liquid inside supercooled quickly, but the water had few/no dissolved solids and the plastic was very smooth. With no nucleation sites for the crystals to form, ice crystals were happy not to form. As soon as you picked up the bottle, turning the lid and jostling the contents was enough to start the crystal formation. One crystal + subzero temps = ice :D

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kelseymh (author)frollard2009-03-17

Hey, Gorillaz! Frollard's got the best answer. If you don't choose it soon, I'll flag it for you :-) That's a wonderfully concise and clear explanation of supercooling, which is not something you actually get to see in action very often.

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xACIDITYx (author)kelseymh2009-04-13

Is there any way to cheaply replicate this situation at home?

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kelseymh (author)xACIDITYx2009-04-13

Well, do what GorillazMiko did, since he did the situation cheaply at home. Take a brand new (still sealed) water bottle, and put it in your freezer in a spot where it won't get jostled or touched in any way. See what happens.

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frollard (author)kelseymh2009-03-18

*gee thanks - I was gonna bring up a thread in the forum, "how can we encourage people to mark their answered questions as 'answered'"? email reminder, login reminder, or make the button more obvious...

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kelseymh (author)kelseymh2009-03-18

P.S. I moved this to Science as the main category, but kept your Offbeat as the secondary. This is a *very* cool (pun intended :-) science project, and as n8man said, it's really hard to do with a freezer.

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user

The devil did it! Just kidding, frollard nailed it.

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user

WITCH!!!! Burn them!!! You are all lucky we are not in the inquisition. The church would have all of you under the pendulum.

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user

Meh. Been there. What a truly boring way to die.

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frollard (author)frollard2009-03-18
Thanks for the additional info jtobako. I know pressure is a big part - but its usually really minute in bottled water (just ot make the bottle hold its shape). Have you ever taken a pressurized 'ice cold' cola out, cracked it open, and found slush inside? Same thing. It wasn't frozen until the pressure drop meant there was all of a sudden more room, and more nucleation sites in the drink. The sugar syrup stopped it from freezing solid like the water bottle above - but any water molecules just chilin' with other water molecules freeze. This shouldn't be too hard to replicate with cola and a freezer - the sugar and pressure makes the supercooling MUCH easier to accomplish.

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jtobako (author)frollard2009-03-17

Don't forget that pressure has a part. It's common to see higher pressure prevent boiling (pressure cooker, car's radiator) but the same happens with lower temps. The water starts expanding around 4 C (plus the bottle might have been sealed at a higher pressure) and that builds internal pressure.

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casman300 (author)2010-03-24

its amasing what happens is that they remove the oxygen to make the water last longer adding in carbon dioxide co2 whick makes the water freeze at a lower tempriture when you open it you let in oxygen which then instantly froze 

this is also explaines in more detail at the steve spangular web site wich has some cool free experiment instructions

http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/instant-freeze-soda-ice

there are also some videos on the same page

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Plasmana (author)2009-06-13

Cool, you super cooled the water!

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Plasmana (author)Derin2009-06-14
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Arbitror (author)Plasmana2010-01-20

Cool, you super cooled the water! That is a pun, while:

Awesome, you super cooled the water!

is not a pun.

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Sandisk1duo (author)2009-03-17

Make a video, because it sounds awesome!

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ChrysN (author)2009-03-18

I'm glad you asked that question, I've had that experienced several times at work. We aliquot reagents into 5ml tubes and store in the freezer until we need it. Several time I would take a tube out after being in the freezer for weeks and it would be liquid. But once I tilt the tube so that the liquid runs up the side of the tube it freezes (provided that I do it right away -otherwise it would have warmed up to much to freeze.) Cool, now I know why.

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n8man (author)2009-03-18

Nice job, you actually supercooled it. That usually requires a slow cool-down but you actually supercooled it in the freezer. Great job GM.

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n8man (author)n8man2009-03-18

and yes, frollard is 100% correct.

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