Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
- ron (age 58)
Its important to realize, however, that the wine will not all freeze if cooled down to that freezing point. When some ice starts to form, it contains almost pure water, leaving the remaining liquid with an increased concentration of alcohol etc, and hence a lower freezing point. Pure ethanol has a freezing point of around -117 °C. So even if your car gets cold, youll get wine slush, not solid wine ice.
Nonetheless, if its good wine, you shouldnt be carrying it around in the trunk because it might be damaged by heat. Also, if some does freeze, the increased volume of the ice (water is weird that way) might increase the pressure enough to slide the cork out some, and degrade the seal. If you were more unlucky, perhaps the ice could plug the neck and the bottle might crack.
(published on 10/22/2007)
Follow-Up #1: freezing wine
- Jane (age 47)
Frostburg, MD, USA
The precise initial freezing point of wine will depend mainly on the alcohol concentration but also on the amount of sugar and other solutes. A typical red wine should run about -6°C or 22°F. Since the wine left behind when a little has frozen will be more concentrated, the amount frozen will increase steadily below that initial freezing point.
Of course the car takes a while to cool down, so that gives you a little leeway. The time it takes to cool is shorter if the wind is blowing.
(published on 11/30/2007)
Follow-Up #2: making brandy
- scotty (age 77)
Seeley Lake, Montana
(published on 12/06/2007)
Follow-Up #3: Freezing point of Everclear alcohol-water mix
- Olin and Cash Middleton (age 32)
As you probably know, Everclear is a potent mixture of ethyl alcohol and creekwater. It's alcoholic content is from 75 to 95 percent (150 to 190 proof). Here is a table that shows the freezing point of various mixtures of alcohol and water: the more alcohol, the lower the freezing point.
(% by volume)
Now for an explanation of why different substances freeze at different temperatures. It's because the molecules that make them up are different. Some kinds of molecules have stronger forces holding molecules to each other than other kinds of molecules. In water, for example, the positively charged hydrogen end of the molecule electrostatically attracts the negatively charged part of neighboring water molecules to form "hydrogen bonds". These are responsible for the cohesion of water molecules in the liquid and the arrangement of water molecules in ice. Ethyl alcohol doesn't have that attractive end that form bonds.
Other kinds of substances have different freezing points. For example, nitrogen molecules have only very weak attractive forces between each other (although the bond between the two nitrogen atoms in an N2 molecule is very very strong). Consequently, nitrogen freezes at a much lower temperature than water. It even liquifies at a much lower temperature than water: -195.8 °Celsius. It freezes solid at -209.86 °C.
(published on 09/08/2011)
Follow-Up #4: making brandy
- Gil Linderman (age 67)
Mundelein, IL USA
(published on 02/04/2012)
Follow-Up #5: frozen wine
- Dan (age 31)
Queenstown, New Zealand
(published on 12/31/2012)
Follow-Up #6: concentrating alcohol by freezing
- D. Sherman (age 53)
I've put this in a thread that discusses the same issue. Notice the table Lee included above.
It's unclear what you're aiming for, since 80% is 160 proof and 40% is 80 proof. If you're aiming for 40% alcohol, normal for a hard drink, that corresponds to a -10°F freezing point. Since there are other solutes in there (sugar, etc.) you'll need a slightly lower temperature.
If you're really aiming for 80% then you will need near -80°F, not as easy to reach.
(published on 01/27/2014)
Follow-Up #7: illegal to concentrate alcohol
- Stephanie Moidel (age 61)
Glen Carbon, IL USA
Interesting. Fortunately, my great-grandfather is beyond the reach of the law now.
(published on 11/03/2015)