Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: mysteriously subliming ice

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 01/17/2012
Q:
I manage an apartment community and today we had a resident who called and said her ice keeps disapearing overnight. She says she fills up the ice trays and in the morning, poof! No ice, just sediment. The temp is working correctly.The maint. man fills them up and says he will come back the next day. The first thing we are thinking is "crazy resident again". Maintenance goes to check it out and sure enough, we have empty ice trays with a white sediment still there. Alot of it! What??? I have heard of shrinkage/sublimation but over a long period of time. This was overnight. What is going on? How do we fix the fridge? I guess we need science and an engineer here! Help!!
- Jenny (age 41)
Sherman, Texas, United States
A:
In my professional opinion, yeah that's very weird. It normally takes days at least for ice cubes to sublime away. About the only thing I can think of that would substantially speed it up would be a strong dry wind over the ice. Could the resident try covering the ice with maybe some plastic wrap to see if that changes anything? I guess the other possibility is that it's a prank.

Mike W.

(published on 01/17/2012)

Follow-up on this answer.