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Ice and Oil physics Experiments

Both oil and ice can be slippery, but this is where the similarity ends. Oil and ice have very little in common. Actually, oil doesn’t like ice and especially melted ice.


You notice the ice cube goes down to the veggie oil layer as heavier then the baby oil. Oil is known as hydrophobic, meaning that it repels water. When you put the ice cube in the oil it begins to melt. It doesn’t mix with the oil because oil is hydrophobic. This explains why the oil and water don’t blend together, but this doesn’t explain why the water goes to the bottom of the cup and why the ice floats at the top of the cup.


This is all comes back to density, or how much stuff is in an object. If something is denser than something else, it will sink. Water is denser than oil; that’s why water sinks to the bottom of the glass. Ice, however, is a funny solid. When water freezes and turns to ice, it actually takes up more space than it did when it was water, but it has the same amount of stuff in it. This means it is less dense than water. That’s why ice cubes float in your water glass.


Since the ice is less dense than water and therefore less dense than oil, it floats at the top of the veggie oil.


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