This weekend it’s getting cold.
Temperatures around 0oF. And in my neck of the woods that does not happen very often.
Besides picking up milk, bread and I also grabbed bottled soda, balloons, powdered hot chocolate mix, dish soap and personal lubricant (it’s not what you think – really) because super cold means super science!
Here are 5 experiments you can only do when the temperature is in the single digits.
This is the one I’m most excited about! You can blow bubbles outside, just like you usually would, and watch ice crystals form on them before your eyes! Bubbles are made of 3 layers – soap – water – soap. The water in the middle forms crystals between the soap layers.
If you use regular bubble solution the ice crystals will cause the bubble to crack and pop but I am going to share with you the secret to long lasting bubbles. Mix this up away from the kids because it’s slightly R rated – unless you want to explain what personal lubricant is REALLY for.
Longest Lasting Super Bubble Recipe
3 cups water
¼ cup dish soap
⅛ cup personal lubricant
Just pour this in a bottle, shake it up good and then let it sit overnight before using for best results.
If you’ve ever needed proof of the gas law relationship between temperature and volume of a gas this is it. Simply blow up some balloons while you are indoors and then stick them out in the cold – preferably in front of a window so you can watch them from inside where it’s warm. After several minutes the balloons will shrink because the air cold and contracted to a smaller volume. Bring them back in to warm up and they go back to their original size!
This experiment can actually be done in the freezer but it’s more fun – and easier to keep an eye on outside. Place an unopened bottle of soda or water outside. Depending on how cold it is you’ll need to wait from 2 to 4 hours. If you can, put an open bottle of water with your unopened bottle. When the opened bottle is frozen but the unopened bottle is still liquid you have reached the perfect state. The soda in the unopened bottle is below its freezing temperature but still in a liquid state – it is super cooled.
In order for the ice crystals to form there needs to be some sort of seed to start the crystallizing process. This can be as small as a bit of dust from the air or a tiny bubble. With this in mind be VERY careful not to jostle or shake the bottle before you are ready. Bring the bottle inside and gently unscrew the top. The change in pressure should be enough to set off the crystallizing process and you can watch the soda turn to a frozen icy slush before your eyes! If you used water, pour on some juice for flavor.
In this video the “pop” was left out for 4 hours at 7oF. If you use a smaller bottle it will probably take less time.
Boiling Water Cloud
If there is cold and dry enough, boiling water can turn directly to a cloud of snow! Be very careful trying this as there is a potential for burns. Pour a cup of boiling hot water and throw it high up in the air. Make sure to throw it away from you and other people and out of the wind. Boiling water by definition is in the process of evaporating. When you throw it up in the dry air it disperses into tiny droplets, which cool quickly into a snowy cloud.
This impressive video from Russia shows what can happen at -40oF. While we won’t get that cold where I am this trick should still work.
Hot chocolate effect
When you’re done blowing bubbles, making slushies and throwing around boiling water, come on inside for a mug of hot chocolate. While you’re at it grab a spoon and check out the Hot Chocolate Effect.
Happy Snow Day Y’all!