Can you stop water from expanding when it freezes into ice?

Originally published at: Can you stop water from expanding when it freezes into ice? | Boing Boing


I was surprised by what happened!

last thing i want to do is come off ‘haughty’, but what happened was exactly what i assumed would happen; perhaps because of seeing the results of plumbing disasters after a cold winter…? anyway, it was fun, thankee, since he was “behind his ‘blast shield’”. (yet might want to invest another centimeter in the next ‘blast shield’)


I mean… that’s exactly what I expected to happen and I suspect the guy who made the video had a good inkling too. Although some of his videos are based on very interesting concepts, I can’t help but feel that the way he goes about “Investigating” them is chosen for maximum YouTube algorithmic payoff.

Liquid Nitrogen is almost the most extreme (yet reasonably practical) way he could have chosen to “freeze” the water. I suspect that it made the steel much more brittle first given the direct exposure and the water’s thermal capacity.

My favorite channels would then go on to calculate how thick or strong the material would need t obe in order to contain those forces. I feel like they’ve really understood things when they can cover the math, even quickly. But if you are just after shocking viral content then you already got what you wanted by that point.


Do NOT make ice nine!


When above the Arctic Circle I saw steel boats crushed beyond recognition by the freezing ocean water, very cool to see, but you want a rescue ice breaker nearby when you SOS.


The pressures required to maintain water in a liquid phase are obscene once you’re more than a degree or two under 0 °C. For liquid nitrogen temperatures? Forget it. Maybe in the world’s best diamond anvil cell, but even then I doubt it. Freeze water in any normal container, and the container walls will deform. For most things, that means crack, crack, boom.


The surprise is a few secs after 4:15 and there is some explanation just before 5:00.


Is there a temperature at which water will freeze even without expanding and forming chrystals?

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I was surprised by what happened!

I was surprised that anyone would be surprised!


I think it’s The Action Lab, although Action Man brings up memories of the Battlefield Casualties PSAs.


The water should’ve be de-aerated before attempting to freeze it.


Ouch. This guy’s an idiot, well beyond the apparent negligence of basic safety.

The end caps he used are not steel. They’re cast iron, which is a completely different material.

Many people don’t realize it, but steel is elastic. If it’s stretched, it will return to its former shape. This means it has excellent tensile strength, and is why things like wire ropes and cables are strong enough to hold up bridges.

But cast iron? That stuff is brittle. It has very high strength in compression, but very low tensile strength. And if you try to put a tensile load on too thin of a casting, it will shatter. It behaves much closer to glass than to steel.

If a YouTuber wants to demonstrate stupid shit that endangers themself, I can’t stop them. But when fools like this wrap their stupidity in the guise of “science”, it really pisses me off.

Kids, not only don’t try this at home, but don’t watch this moron’s channel. He’s not teaching anyone anything of value.


I think that’s only necessary if you want an steel shrapnel explosion with clear, cocktail-ready ice, as opposed to an steel shrapnel explosion with everyday refrigerator/freezer-generated ice.


Username checks out :smile:


It sounds like he did know the container would fail (he has the phase diagram right there, after all), so I guess there’s no reason to use a more expensive vessel which would only explode harder.

But the part where he remembers the flimsy shield one second before the thing explodes is like something out of Fork Lift Operator Klaus. And then even after that, he’s claiming that high pressures aren’t dangerous in the case of solids, despite the result he just saw, not to mention every video on the hydraulic press youtube channel. Failing to learn from accidents is an even worse safety message than supercooling water in a sealed container.


In short, no. But there is a little more to it (this video got me thinking about physical chemistry; my pchem is really rusty - like more than 25 years rusty - so I may be wrong)

At normal atmospheric pressure, and up to about 100 atmospheres, liquid water freezes into “normal” ice (apparently designated Ice Ih (one sub h)). Once you’re into the 1000 atmospheres of pressure and above, things get weird. There are forms of ice denser than liquid water, such as Ice VII, which can be found at room temp at pressures ranging from about 11-12 thousand atmospheres to just under a million atmospheres. So, if you have some liquid water at, let’s say, 100 °C and at about 10000 atmospheres, increasing the pressure to 50000 atmospheres should solidify the water into Ice VII. There’s a really neat phase diagram at Wikipedia.


Something the builders of the Titanic didn’t take into account, although the ship had a coal bunker fire occurring from the time she left Ireland, which didn’t help structural integrity in very cold northern waters.


for the boom

For the phase diagram

A smaller volume of water would be a lot easier to constrain.

(But less fun).

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Indeed. I was around when some people were attempting this same experiment in college (just for fun, not as part of a class). Despite boiling the water first to de-aerate it, they didn’t get the Boom. The pipe bomb (for that is what it was) did deform quite visibly. I’m guessing the end caps may have been steel, unlike this guy’s.

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