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Q & A: ice melting rates

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Q:
I have read your answered questions about melting ice but am still confused about something we have found. We are doing a science experiment regarding what liquids melt ice faster. We are using water, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, corn oil, and corn syrup. We have only done water and vinegar so far and found that ice melted faster in water then in vinegar. Why would that be?
- Suzanne
syracuse, ny
A:
Suzanne- You have me puzzled too. I would have guessed the opposite, since the melting point is lowered in vinegar.

In these experiments it's very important that the different liquids start out at the same temperature, that the containers be the same shape, that the ice be the same shape and weight and temperature, and that there be the same amount of the different liquids. I know this isn't a very imaginative answer, but it would probably be worth checking all these factors before deciding that the melting in pure water is faster.

Mike W.

(republished on 07/25/06)

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