Hot Ice Sculptures

Hot Ice Sculptures

Handwarmers often contain a supersaturated solution of sodium ethanoate (CH3COONa). (Supersaturated means that the water in which the sodium ethanoate is dissolved is 'carrying' more sodium ethanoate than it should and at the slightest provocation, the ethanoate will precipitate out. This occurs because hot water will dissolve far more sodium ethanoate than cold water, but having done so, the ethanoate will stay dissolved as the water cools down.)

A seed crystal, or even a speck of dust, will provoke the precipitation of the ethanoate. In this experiment, a clear saturated solution of sodium ethanoate is poured onto a plate at which point it will solidify, creating an ethanoate tower, stalagmite or ice sculpture.

You can also touch a clear solution of sodium ethanoate and cause it to solidify in front of your eyes....

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Experiments you can do at home

Welcome to Dr Hal's Backyard Science, experiments you can try at home. These are experiments that you can try in your garden or house with parental permission and supervision. Each of them comes with some health and safety instructions that an adult must read. The text is reproduced by kind permission of Education in Chemistry a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The Experiments:

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