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Instant Freeze: The Science Behind Instantly Freezing Water

With the sweep of frigid temperatures in and around Wisconsin recently, we received a very interesting inquiry that we just had to share. It was one of those questions that baffled even us and we had to know more -- so we did our research and we’re here to share this wild science with you!


We received a picture of bottles of water, but only one of them was the Festival Foods brand. Both sat for a week in negative temperatures in a three-season’s room. The generic brand water completely froze completely but the Festival Foods brand water did not.


Two water bottles

And then ... the Festival Foods water is tapped against a hard surface and :: poof :: it instantly freezes. How could one bottle of water freeze completely and the other remain entirely unfrozen when exposed to the same temperatures? The answer: something called supercooling. Yes! It is real.


This is what happens when water molecules get cold enough they’ll start bonding with each other and, in turn, form microscopic hexagonal structures which is the formation of ice. But first, the molecules need a little help to start the bonding process; they need to be pushed together so they are close enough to bond. If there is nothing to help make that bond, then water stays a liquid, even though it’s well below the freezing point.


Scientists speculate that the shock wave from the abrupt tab bumps the molecules together for an instant freeze phenomenon. Go ahead, try it! 

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