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What is Supercooled Water

Using additives can lower the freezing temperature of water. For example sprinkling salt on ice causes the ice to melt. Antifreeze solutions added are added to car radiators to protect them from sub zero temperatures. However lowering the freezing point in this manner is not supercooling.

It should be pointed out that even without additives water may not solidify when the temperature is 0oC or slightly below if the water is pure and not being agitated. What occurs is a standoff between the cyrstallizing forces of the molecular alignment based on hydrogen bonds and the decreasing volume  that accompanies reduced molecular movement. This balance is very delicate. A speck of dust or a minor vibration can cause crystallization. Until this happens the water temperature can drop a degree or more below 0oC without crystallization. When water is in this condition it is said to be supercooled.

More Information About Water

  • Molecular Structure
  • The Three States
  • Sublimation
  • Supercooled Water
  • Heavy Water
  • Properties
  • Heat Capacity
  • Latent Heats
  • Solvent
  • Surface Tension

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