Inside: Can you lift candy from a glass without using your hands? This activity is a great introduction to chemistry, the science of ice, and the art of making Halloween candy disappear without eating it 🙂
By now, you know how much we love simple science that can be done with supplies found in any kitchen. My goal is usually to have fun while shedding light on a scientific question. Today we are exploring whether or not we can lift a candy ice cube from a cup without picking it up with our fingers.
I’m not telling you yet, but I promise we will find out below and talk about the science behind it as well.
A Brief History of Ice
But did you know that until fairly recently in history, ice was just an inconvenient side effect of winter?
Frederic Tudor was the first to get the idea that people who live in warmer climates might appreciate some ice. He cut blocks of ice out of a lake in Boston and transported them to the Caribbean. It took a surprisingly long time to convince people to give it a try, but in the end, Tudor made a fortune, and he lives in history as the Ice King.
It was almost a century later that the mechanical refrigeration system was invented (and patented), and the ice industry skyrocketed for both industrial and commercial uses. Today, the ice manufacturing industry in the US alone brings in $877.5m in profit and includes food storage, beverage cooling, as well as chemical manufacturing, and concrete curing.
How to Life Candy with Chemistry
What you need
- cotton string (twine or yarn)
- clear cup
- ice cube tray
What to do
1. Freeze Candy Overnight
Put candy in an ice cube tray and cover it with water. Freeze overnight.
2. Drop Frozen Candy in the Water
Drop a few frozen candy cubes into a cup of water.
3. Try to Pull Candy Out with a String
Grab a piece of string about 6 inches long and dip it into the cup, trying to pull the cubes out.
Do you think the ice will stick to the string?
(Nope! It doesn’t work).
4. Add Salt
Now, make sure the string is soaked with water, lay it across the candy cube in the cup, and sprinkle salt over the string/cube.
The heavier your cube, the more points of contact the string needs to have with the surface of the frozen candy. In the photo above, we didn’t have enough, and the experiment didn’t work.
In the photo below, we were more successful.
5. Pull on the string
Give it a minute or two to melt and refreeze. Now pull on the string and lift the candy cube out.
Can your string pull out the candy ice cube?
If not, scroll down to the science section below and go over the important points.
We tried this experiment with different kinds of salt – regular fine table salt, Himalayan Fine Pink salt, and Coarse Sea Salt. We had the best success with Coarse Sea Salt.
The Science of Ice
Learning with candy is one of the most fun and delicious ways for your kids to learn a variety of lessons.
In this experiment, when we add salt to the frozen candy cube, it melts a thin layer on the surface.
However, the water immediately refreezes around the string. This causes the frozen cube to stick to the string when it is pulled out of the glass.
Make sure that your string (twine or yarn) covers a lot of the cube when you sprinkle salt on top of it. If there are not enough points of contact, the newly formed ice on the surface of the candy cube breaks when you try lifting the candy. You need enough of the ice to support the weight of the candy + frozen water around it.
Generally, you might need to experiment with the kind of candy that you use for the experiment. We had to give up all the chocolate candy because it was too heavy to be lifted out of the water in this way.
Also (and this is important), make sure to add lots of ice cubes to your cup of water. You want the water in your cup to be so cold that the thin layer of liquid that melts on the surface of the cube because of salt freezes.
Candy Science Book!!!
Are you looking for more fun candy science experiments? This activity is a part of a collection of science experiments using candy!
Using just candy and a few other supplies readily found in your kitchen, Candy Science Activities will fuel the power of your child’s imagination and inspire active learning. This 35-pages ebook makes learning fun, quick, and practical. Each activity includes a scientific explanation for what happened and why. It will truly help your child discover, learn, and do science.
Click the button or the image below to learn more and download your own copy.