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Thread: How did this ice form?

  1. #1 How did this ice form? 
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    Hi everyone, basically what happened is we were on a camping trip where it went down to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit overnight. This cup was left out with a little bit of water in it and in the morning we saw it and this is how it looked.

    Can anyone explain how this happened?

    The ice sticking out at an angle was not touching any part of the cup was just sticking out like that. We broke the ice and looked inside and there was nothing in it.

    How did this happen, please help it's driving me crazy



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  3. #2  
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    Perhaps...the ice that formed in that area of the surface of the water when it was just freezing happened to develop a particular surface complexion, which then acted to cause the capillary effect, continuously drawing more water directly on top of it, reinforcing that surface texture, and continuing the process until all the water was frozen and it could no longer draw water onto it.


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    why would that happen? Does this happen often I have never witnessed such a thing
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  5. #4  
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capillary_action

    It is dependent upon a few different things...namely the surface texture of the material. Its possible that your ice crystal's surface texture in that area was biased in that direction, causing that curvature.

    Of course, this could also be the result of a straight up crystal formation via fractal effect. Maybe some tiny dust particle got into it if the correct shape and position, causing the ice to superimpose its shape.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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  6. #5  
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    I've seen that before in buckets.

    I wonder if the shape of the glass played a role? Especially if the glass was resting on something warmer than the air, and guiding air convections.

    Was night air circulating under the glass?
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  7. #6  
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    the cup was flat on a square shaped wooden log
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  8. #7  
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    I've got space in my freezer. I'll post back later.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capillary_action

    It is dependent upon a few different things...namely the surface texture of the material. Its possible that your ice crystal's surface texture in that area was biased in that direction, causing that curvature.

    Of course, this could also be the result of a straight up crystal formation via fractal effect. Maybe some tiny dust particle got into it if the correct shape and position, causing the ice to superimpose its shape.
    Wouldn't the gravitational force be much greater than any intermolecular forces caused by crystallization, which would prevent any building up of water? Also, I thought capillary phenomena was only present in tubes of very small diameters.
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  10. #9  
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    I was under that impression as well
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  11. #10  
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    Lol wait a minute. There wasn't perhaps a dewy or rain-drenched branch overhanging this glass?

    (still waiting on the freezer)
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  12. #11  
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    nope nothing over it
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  13. #12  
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    I've seen such a thing happen before also. Never thought anything of it.
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  14. #13  
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    I tried plastic cups and glass glasses of tapwater in the freezer, with a room-temperature brick under some. All froze solid with a flat top. :|

    Now I'm trying to make ice volcanoes. The idea is that since water expands as it freezes, if I give it an escape vent (I used a drill) it might just build a sheer sided volcano, not unlike that thing in the glass.
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  15. #14  
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    I've seen pebbles sitting on the top of 4cm/1.6in ice pillars, in the mountains.
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    Wouldn't the gravitational force be much greater than any intermolecular forces caused by crystallization, which would prevent any building up of water? Also, I thought capillary phenomena was only present in tubes of very small diameters.
    No...crystallization can move against gravity, to a fair extent actually. I have seen crystals that were 20 feet vertical into the air; not stalagmites either, pure crystals.

    Tubes of small diameters are just one well known application of the capillary effect; it really can take shape in many different circumstances.

    Anyways...isn't the soaking of a cloth through a single contact point an example of the capillary effect?
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geo
    I've seen pebbles sitting on the top of 4cm/1.6in ice pillars, in the mountains.
    I think those start out by lying on a flat thick bed of snow/ice. Then the sun melts the snow/ice all around but not under the pebble, because of the shadow.
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  18. #17  
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    None of my freezer volcanoes worked.

    Poko2121, was that bottled water? Any impurities?
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  19. #18  
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    Maybe the temperature dropped quickly and the wood stayed warm longer wood keeps its temperature reasonably long hence the glass also. So the water freezed first in the center of the glass. Therefore sort of a icecube builded up. Ice floats on water so the surface of the ice is above the water.
    Then the ice can cool down under zero degrees and under the ice there is an ideal surface where new ice can form making the surface of the ice come up more and more etc. The forming of ice also keeps the watertemperature at zero degrees so the rest of the water doesn,t freeze at first.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I tried plastic cups and glass glasses of tapwater in the freezer, with a room-temperature brick under some. All froze solid with a flat top. :|

    Now I'm trying to make ice volcanoes. The idea is that since water expands as it freezes, if I give it an escape vent (I used a drill) it might just build a sheer sided volcano, not unlike that thing in the glass.
    I don't think putting it in a freezer would work. For crystallization to occur (if it is the reason), i think temperature change must be gradual. Freezer would be too quick.
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  21. #20  
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    You could realize this in a freezer (maybe) by putting the glas in a small pan with a little bit of water (only to optimize the contact between the bottom of the glass and the pan). The small pan you put in a bigger pan that is full of warm water and something on the botton so the water can come under the small pan (au bain marie idea). You can precool the water in the water in the glass to near freezing temperature first. The amount of water in the big pan has to be big also so that it stays warm longer. That way the glas stays warm and thus the water near the glas.

    The freezing up concentrates in the middle of the glass that way and as the ice surface alwyas comes above the watersurface (ice is lighter) the water will grow underneath the ice. The icelayer in the middle can become very thick before the water freezes at the edges. The "icecube" is a little topheavy and could fall but as water is always horizontal and the ice underneath the water stabalizes it you could be luckey.

    I bet it was a night with no clouds, maybe up in the mountains and could it be there was more water in the glass then we see on the picture ; as you broke the ice you poored of some remains of unfrozen water ?
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    I think those start out by lying on a flat thick bed of snow/ice. Then the sun melts the snow/ice all around but not under the pebble, because of the shadow.
    These ice pillars formed on bare ground overnight. Ice formed between the ground and the pebble, then grew, raising the pebble.
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geo
    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    I think those start out by lying on a flat thick bed of snow/ice. Then the sun melts the snow/ice all around but not under the pebble, because of the shadow.
    These ice pillars formed on bare ground overnight. Ice formed between the ground and the pebble, then grew, raising the pebble.
    Yeah, 4cm is just well-developed frost. It looks like thick straight hair, not a solid upright icicle. I've seen that several winters, only from organic matter (especially soil), never from standing water. How it lifts rocks and crusts of dirt I don't understand. How can it grow at the tip if the tip's pressing against a rock? *EDIT: No, I get it now. Really strong molecular bond, and the rock-face at that scale is vibrating.*

    But smart thinking Leszek just the same.
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  24. #23  
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    Just a guess, but I think it is formed by the moisture in the are freezing. That means tap water will not work. Might be able to get deionized water to work.
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  25. #24  
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    Bingo. It's an ice spike.


    Water is weird.
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