Ice is a solid that is made up of frozen water. It is created when water is cooled to a temperature below 0°C (32°F). It is common in nature as snow, hail, glaciers and in the polar regions. One of the most interesting natural objects made of ice is the iceberg, which floats on the sea. Have you ever wondered why ice floats on water? Continue reading to find the answer to this question.
Why does ice float?
The basic explanation for ice floating is that water expands when it is frozen to become less dense. This means that ice takes up more volume than the same amount of liquid water. As an example, 1 cubic liter of ice will weigh less than 1 cubic liter of water. That means that the ice will float on water, which has more density that the ice.
This phenomenon is quite unusual because most substances are more dense as solids than liquids. Their molecules are packed tightly together in a solid state and this means that most solids would sink in their liquid form (such as solid lead sinking in molten lead). However, in ice the molecules are held further apart than usual in a lattice shape. When ice melts the molecules become closer together which makes the water more dense.
Watch the following video for a good explanation of why ice floats in water: