January 23, 2006

Last night I put two bottles of Smirnoff Ice into my freezer. About an hour a later I took one out to have with my dinner (rib-eye steak and mexican potatoes). Two hours later I realized I still had one more bottle left in the freezer so I went back to get it before it started to freeze. Even though it was in there for 3 hours I wasn’t expecting to see any ice in the bottle, mainly because alcohol has a lower freezing point than water (vodka will never freeze in a modern Freezer). I take it out, notice it is still in liquid form and place it on my kitchen counter-top. It begans to rapidly turn into a solid white block of ice.

It took about 1 minute to turn all 12 fluid ounces into completely white ice. And about an hour to defrost. My first reaction was… is this glass going to break? Is the top going to pop and fly right through my ceiling? Since this is partly water I assumed that as it froze it would expand (to my knowledge water is the only chemical which does this.. expand while freezing) but it didn’t expand enough to break anything. When I eventually openned the bottle there was barely any pressure. Smirnoff Ice is carbonated just like soda or any other beer so when you open it a family of bubbles rise and fizz to the top. After this had defrosted I saw only about 2 or 3 bubbles rise to the top. Which means when it froze, it expanded, increasing the outward pressure and basically causing the bottlecap to relieve some air. Which means.. the beer tasted a little flat. Which sucked.

Anyways, I couldn’t really figure out why or how this actually happened. Since I believe there is a natural explanation for everything (I’m sure you can explain everything supernaturally too…) I investigated. First I thought, Boyle’s Law. Except that only deals with ideal states of gases. Eventually, someone on a forum I frequent pointed me towards Supercooling.

This means that before I took the bottle out the liquid inside, at least the water particles, were below their freezing point but were still a liquid. When I agitated it (ie. took it out and put it on the counter) the water began to freeze rapidly throughout the bottle.

Here are two links about supercooling; the first one has a few videos (XviD required) of supercooling, the other is just a wikipedia entry about supercooling.

I uploaded some of the videos myself from the f0rked site (just to lessen the burden):


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