Ice Spikes

Everyone
can try their hand at making some ice spikes.  All it takes is a dollar’s
worth of distilled water, some ice cube trays, and a freezer.  This is an
easy overnight project that makes a lasting impression.  Ice spikes are
bizarre, which makes them fun to make!
What are Ice Spikes?
Ice
spikes are odd ice structures that occasionally grow out of ice cube
trays.  Unlike some of the strange things you might find growing in your
refrigerator, ice spikes are made of nothing but ice.  Ice spikes are the
result of physics, not biology.  They look a lot like the limestone
stalagmites found in caves! 
To see
your own ice spikes, make ice cubes in an ordinary ice cube tray, in an
ordinary household freezer, but using distilled
water
, which you can buy in most supermarkets for about a dollar a gallon.
How do Ice Spikes Form?
Ice
spikes grow as the water in an ice cube tray turns to ice.  The water
first freezes on the top surface, around the edges of what will become the ice
cube.  The ice slowly freezes in from the edges, until just a small hole
is left unfrozen in the surface.  At the same time, while the surface is
freezing, more ice starts to form around the sides of the cube.

Since ice expands as
it freezes, the ice freezing below the surface starts to push water up through
the hole in the surface ice.  If the conditions are just right, then water
will be forced out of the hole in the ice and it will freeze into an ice spike,
a bit like lava pouring out of a hole in the ground to makes a volcano. 
But water does not flow down the sides of a thin spike, so in that way it is
different from a volcano.  Rather, the water freezes around the rim of the
tube, adding to its length.  The spike can continue growing taller until
all the water freezes, cutting off the supply, or until the tube freezes
shut. 

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