UCSB Science Line
 What material makes ice melt? Question Date: 2017-03-03 Answer 1:The short answer is that anything could melt ice! It just has to be hot enough. This “hotness,” or heat, is a type of energy, and hot things have a lot of energy, while cold things have less energy. Nature wants hot things, like a metal ball, to give its energy to the cold things touching it (like the air in a room). The hot metal ball will want to give off energy, so it goes into the air that is touching it. This happens until the metal ball and the air have the SAME “hotness” or energy. Let’s think of ice melting if you leave it out on a table. The ice will be cold. The air will be warm around it , and this warmness will transfer to the ice, making the ice warmer. Once the ice gets too warm, we start to see it melt, which is what we thought would happen! But while the ice gets warmer, the air around it actually gets colder! To demonstrate this we will look now at a cup of ice water. Water will be room temperature, and we want to make it cold. Now we drop the ice into our cup of water. By touching the ice, the water will transfer its heat to the ice. This means the ice will lose some of its “coldness” to the water, making the water colder. At the same time, the water will lose some of its “warmness”, or energy, to the ice, and the ice will start to melt. Hope this helps! Answer 2: Heat makes ice melt, although salt can also make ice melt with less heat (you still need heat though). Answer 3: Most things that will mix with or dissolve in water will make ice melt, depending on the temperature. This is not just true for water, if you mix a little bit of some material into some other material, the melting point of that second material will drop. How far it will drop varies depending on the added material. The material that is commonly used to remove ice on streets is simple table salt (but not as clean as the salt you use for cooking) because it is cheap and not very hazardous and it lowers the melting point of ice quite a bit. But you could experiment with different water soluble household materials and see if they also work, such as baking soda, alcohol, sugar... Best, Answer 4:Technically, any sort of material can make ice melt. Ice melts above a temperature 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so as long as the ice is in an environment above that temperature, it will melt into liquid form, which is water! You can make ice melt faster though, in many ways. Crushing ice up into small bits will make it melt faster because it increases the surface area touching the outside air. Ice and sugar also make ice melt faster, by lowering water’s freezing point. Click Here to return to the search form.