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Q & A: Solid Water

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Is ice, frozen water, actually a solid in the strict definnition of "solid"
- Anonymous
Dallas,TX USA
A:
Yes! Ice is absolutely a solid. The state of matter of a substance is determined by how the molecules inside of it interact. In a solid, the molecules bind to each other tightly, in a rigid lattice structure. When water freezes, the water molecules go from being bound together loosely and irregularly to forming tightly-bound regular crystals. So ice is definitely a solid.

The reason that you might think that ice is not a solid is because as a solid, it takes up more space than water does as a liquid. This is because the lattice that the water molecules make up in ice happens to put the molecules farther apart than when they move more freely as a liquid. But this is really just a coincidental side effect of how water freezes. It does not change the fact that the ice is a solid. If you’d like to see a more graphical way of putting this, you can also check out the phase diagrams shown in the answer to the question .

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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