Icy Orbs : Science

I did a fun, easy, colorful, dazzling, shiny experiment! Here is how I did it:

First, get a few balloons. Put the mouth of the balloon on the tap. On the tap and hold the balloon from the top and bottom. When it has gotten a bit filled (around 1 – 1.5 cups of water), then close the tap. Tie the mouth of the balloon and keep it in the freezer for 1 day.
The next day, the fun begins! Take the balloon out of the freezer, put it in a bowl and cut the mouth and tear off the balloon. Now comes the messy bit. Sprinkle some salt on it and add a few drops of food coloring. Secret tip: Liquid food coloring works better than gel food coloring.

You could take it further by using drinking water to make the icy ball. Then you can use rose or khus sherbet instead of food coloring and enjoy the treat. You will have to use limited salt though!

How it works

The salt melts the ice. The ice becomes water and it starts flowing down. If you add food colors, the beautiful patterns get created.

Imagine that you are sitting quietly and doing your homework. Let’s say your father comes in and interrupts you along with your pet puppy. Your puppy gets really excited on seeing you and goes crazy. Then your pet and you start running around together and having lots of fun. Your father is just standing on the side.
Similarly, Salt is made up of Sodium molecules (your pet puppy) and Chloride molecules (your father). When they interact with Water molecules (you), the Sodium and Water (puppy and you) get attached and start flowing on the ice as if you were playing tag on snow.

Real Life

This same Salt method is used in US to remove ice and snow from the roads. If ice is not removed from the roads, then accidents can happen because the ice is so slippery. I read on Google that 15 billion kilograms of salt is used every year in US and this de-icing keeps the traffic moving. But it also has some disadvantages. Too much salt damages the roads. The salt also gets wasted in de-icing roads. Also, all the water flows into rivers and seas and makes them salty. Two things happen because of this – The drinking water that comes from seas and rivers is salty. So, to make it unsalty, there is a lot of processing that needs to be done by workers. Second, the fishes, underwater creatures and plants can get sick and die. Sometimes there is shortage of salt in US because of this. But there is also no other better way to do de-icing of roads right now. Let us hope scientists discover a solution soon.

Until then, you can enjoy a video of how I did the experiment and the dazzling icy orbs I created at home.

Icy Orbs by Yuvika Sharma

1. Pictures and Videos – My mom
2. Experiment – Home Lab book by Robert Winston
3. Research – Google about de-icing

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